Earlier this week, the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), issued multiple letters that will provide the bearer access to:

  • restricted areas and times (such as during curfews) if necessary to access communications equipment to ensure continued service; and
  • priority access to fuel for generators and debris removal/repair vehicles, should they become necessary to operate communications equipment.

There are already communities in which curfews are in place, and many more will likely be instated soon; the access letter can be shown to law enforcement to provide passage to access telecommunications and broadcast infrastructure. And, while we certainly hope the situation does not devolve to a place where we have power outages, telecommunications providers and broadcasters can be assured by the fuel letter they are to be afforded primary access to fuel for generators through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal relief mechanisms.

As a reminder, since 2018, broadcasters also are deemed “first informers” under federal law and are to be afforded access to report on news events regardless of restrictions to the public.

Please be aware that, while many states have adopted laws that mirror the federal laws recognizing telecommunications, broadcast, and tower operations as “essential services” granted priority access, some local laws may be in conflict. Please defer to your local emergency management officials.

In times of crisis such as these, Americans rely even more on our broadcasters and telecommunications providers to provide reliable information and to keep our communities connected.  Thank you for all that you do – and stay safe!