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DHS Official Says Cell Phone Emergency Service Failed During Eastern Quake

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A cell phone emergency service used to alert government and public safety calls failed during the east coast earthquake this past summer, a Homeland Security official said.

Allen F. Woodhouse, acting director DHS National Communications System told NextGov it was text messaging traffic that overwhelmed the Wireless Priority Service.

“All of the texting and short messaging occurred on the signal channel,” Woodhouse said to Nextgov. “WPS is designed to get through congestion in those situations. WPS could not get through that.”

He noted Homeland Security officials are currently working with carriers to fix its issues and modify its circuitry by next summer, when the Democratic and Republican conventions take place. DHS manages the program while the Federal Communications Commission established the policies and rules.

Public health and safety personnel as well as federal and municipal workers are eligible for the mobile service.

This comes nearly a week after the House Energy and Commerce Committee said it plans to markup spectrum legislation on Dec. 1, according to National Journal. Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said in a statement the legislation will establish a national broadband public safety network.

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