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Telecommunications Service Priority (TSP)

What is TSP? TSP is an FCC program that directs telecommunications service providers (e.g., wireline and wireless phone companies) to give preferential treatment to users enrolled in the program when they need to add new lines or have their lines restored following a disruption of service, regardless of the cause. The FCC sets the rules and policies for the TSP program; the National Communications System, a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, manages the TSP program. The TSP program is in effect all the time--it is not contingent on a major disaster or attack taking place. Federal sponsorship is required to enroll in the TSP program.

Who Should Enroll? You should enroll if your organization is a Federal, state, tribal, and local police department, fire department, public safety answering point or 9-1-1 call center, EMS entity, essential healthcare provider or any other organization that uses telecommunication services necessary for the public health, safety, and maintenance of law and order.

Why should I get TSP? If you rely on telecommunications services on a daily basis to perform critical national security and emergency preparedness functions, including those areas related to safety, maintenance of law and order, and public health, you need TSP. It is an insurance policy of sorts: by enrolling your critical communication lines in the program, by law (FCC regulations), your telecommunication service provider must restore your lines or add new lines according your priority status level. Your telecommunications service provider must take these actions before it can service any of its non-TSP enrolled customers.

This program can be extremely beneficial during a major disaster or attack in which the telecommunications infrastructure is damaged and the lives and property of the American public is most at risk. In such circumstances, telecommunications service providersírestoration crews are often overextended and only those customers enrolled in the TSP program will have their communications services restored in a timely manner.

There are five TSP priority levels. Federal, state, tribal, and local police departments, fire departments, EMS units, and similar entities qualify for Level 3 under communication services necessary for the public health, safety, and maintenance of law and order. The higher priority levels, Levels 1 and 2, include National Security leadership and certain military communications lines. Very few circuits receive a TSP priority Level 1 or Level 2 assignment. If an organization does not enroll its circuits in the TSP program, its telecommunications service provider cannot restore those lines until it has restored all TSP lines in priority levels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

How do I enroll? By filling out an online application and, if you are not a Federal entity, by having your Federal sponsor approve your application.

In your application, you will need to designate those lines meeting national security and emergency preparedness requirements. If your lines qualify, you will receive an authorization code for each line. You then provide those codes to your telecommunications service provider who will complete the process.

What does it cost? Enrollment and monthly fees for the TSP program are generally set at the state level by public utility or public service commissions. Typically, one-time enrollment fees are approximately $100, and monthly fees per line average $3. Compare those minimal costs to the inability to communicate during a crisis or losses that you would suffer if your critical lines were out of service and you had to wait on your telecommunication service provider to take care of all TSP lines first before it could service its general waiting list of customers.

Who do I contact for help?

National Communications System--TSP Program Office
Telephone: 1.866.NCS.CALL (1.866.627.2255) or 703.760.2255 Telephone (24/7): 703.607.4950

Email: tsp@ncs.gov
Website: tsp.ncs.gov

Federal Communications Commission--TSP Contacts

 

 

 

 

 

 

last reviewed/updated November 15, 2008


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