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New rules for priority restoration of telecomm facilities.

Just when you thought things had quieted down in the Middle East, here is a situation for you to consider. It concerns a new national priority restoration program for telecommunications facilities.

Suppose you create a contingency plan for your telecomm network. You carry the process to the point where you consider the issue of priority circuit restoration. Naturally, in a disaster of any kind that affects telecomm resources, your firm's network recovery is your top priority.

But how about other users out there? What kinds of service restoration priorities are they using? Do you want your firm's service restored quickly, or will you have to wait while other organizations are getting theirs fixed ahead of yours?

Can your company handle a telecomm service outage--both switched and private line facilities--for more than an hour or two? What if the delay lasted a few days?

This month's column evolved from reading Dick Kuehn's column in BCR magazine on the subject of emergency service restoral. Recognizing, as Kuehn did, one of the most critical issues in any telecomm operation is emergency facility recovery, I checked the matter out more carefully. The highlights of that research are presented to you in this edition.

On a national level, telecomm service restoral is a matter of highest importance. Loss of this vital asset could virtually immobilize the country. That's why, for many years, an RP (Restoration Priority) system has been in place. The RP system traditionally covered restoration of federal government, inter-city, private line circuits.

Only a few qualifying organizations could obtain RP status. This information was provided to telephone companies and interexchange carriers so they would know, in effect, whose service they had to restore first in a national emergency.

The RP system was, as of last September, officially superseded by a new and more comprehensive program called the TSP (Telecommunications Service Priority) System for NS/EP (National Security and Emergency Preparedness) Telecommunications.

NS/EP services are considered critical to America's ability to maintain a state of emergency preparedness. They are also crucial to our ability to properly respond to and deal with any event or crisis which causes or could cause harm to the population, damage property, or threaten U.S. security.

The TSP System is the mechanism which establishes priority restoration of telecomm services. It also administers the process by which government and non-government organizations obtain TSP designation subsequently acted upon by their carriers.

TSP authorizes and provides for priority treatment to initiate and restore NS/EP telcomm services. According to TSP System rules, telephone companies are authorized and required to provision and restore services with TSP designations ahead of other services without such designations.

TSP rules apply to local, interexchange, and international telecomm services. The key is to identify services (e.g., POTS, private lines, FX, WATS, cellular and even virtual networks) a telephone company is able to provision or restore on a priority basis. This assumes the ability of your organization to effect some sort of record-keeping process to identify TSP-qualified circuits.

Two primary categories for TSP exist: emergency and essential. Highest on the priority list are emergency services, necessary for communications in a major disaster, such as the aftermath of a tornado, earthquake or hurricane. Another example of emergency service is facilities used during a Presidential visit.

Essential services are all other NS/EP services assigned classifications within the TSP System.

Primary organizations that support TSP Services are telephone companies. Interexchange carriers, cellular carriers, and resellers can also be TSP service providers.

Hardware or software vendors should check with customers to see if any of them have TSP circuits. They may be required to expedite deliver of recovery or restoration equipment with that particularly NS/EP user.

In the previous RP system, only federal government organizations could take advantage of the system. The TSP System provides somewhat more latitude when attempting to qualify for TSP designation.

State, local, and foreign governments may have circuits that qualify for TSP treatment. Some private industries may also qualify. An important point to note is that a small percentage of telecomm services qualify as NS/EP services.

If you work for a federal agency, TSP assignments are requested directly through the TSP Program Office in Washington, D.C. State and local governments must be "sponsored" by the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).

Foreign governments must apply through the Departments of State or Defense. If private industry, preferably must be a federal organization, preferably one whom the applicant has a contractual relationship requiring NS/EP facilities.

Here's an important issue to remember: In a national or regional emergency which affects interstate circuits, federal TSP designations superseded individual telco restoral priorities. That means any local restoral arrangements you have with your telco could be overruled by TSP. . . which means you might still have to wait for service!

Getting TSP

Obtaining TSP designations is relatively simple. The first step is to obtain a TSP Authorization Code. Government agencies file for an authorization code through the TSP Program Office.

Non-federal organizations must file their requests through a sponsoring agency, which forwards the requests to the Program Office. Responses return through the same path to the user.

Let's assume a TSP Authorization Code is obtained. In Step 2, the user forwards the Code with an appropriate service request to the telephone company.

Within the TSP coding scheme, indentifiers for provisioning and restoration priorities are established. For service provisioning, seven values--E, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 0--can be assigned by the Program Office.

Emergency ("E") is the highest provisioning level; a "0" means no provisioning priority is assigned.

Level 1--National Security Leadership: Classified as services with a direct impact on our ability to survive a nuclear attack or threat or other serious national emergency;

Level 2--National Security Posture and U.S. Population Attack Warning: Covers additional services needed for the U.S. to maintain an optimum defense, diplomatic, or government continuity posture before, during, or after a major crisis;

Level 3--Public Health, Safety, and Maintenance of Law and Order: Covers minimum services necessary during a national or regional emergency for giving civil alerts and maintaining law, order, health, and safety of the population; these include law enforcement, hospitals, public utilities, and air traffic control;

Level 4--Public Welfare and Maintenance of National Economic Posture: covers minimum services required to maintain public welfare and the ability for most other key businesses to function; examples are food distribution, monetary systems (e.g. banks), environmental protection, and wage and rent stabilization.

The same is true of service restoration practices. Once a circuit's TSP status is verified, telco personnel and resources are disptached to recover the service. Circuits with restoral Levels 1-3 usually require immediate action, event to the point of after-hours work. Levels 4 and 5 can be handled in 24 hours.

What does all this meant o most telecomm managers? Specifically, the national system for emergency installation and restoral or critical telecomm facilities is now more liberal.

If you believe your company and its telecomm facilities might fit into the TSP guidelines, contact the TSP Program Office at 703-692-0040 or 703-692-2115. As always, don't wait until it's too late.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Kirvan, Paul
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jun 1, 1991
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