GETS/ WPS Policy

Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS) and Wireless Priority Service (WPS)

Sponsorship of Priority Telecommunications Access for Private Sector Entities through the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS) and Wireless Priority Service (WPS)

To provide guidance to financial organizations seeking sponsorship for GETS and WPS services, the Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee (FBIIC)1 has developed policies on the sponsorship of priority telecommunications access for the private sector. The goal of these policies is to make financial organizations aware of the programs and to provide consistent guidance regarding qualification criteria and the appropriate process for interested organizations.

What will GETS and WPS do for my organization?

The United States banking and finance sector is the backbone for the world’s economy. Today, there is a wide range of potential threats facing the sector ranging from natural disasters, national emergencies, to a possible worldwide flu pandemic. Consequently, financial regulators and private sector owners and operators continuously collaborate to maintain a high degree of resilience in the face of a myriad of potential disasters, be they intentional or unintentional.

During times of emergency, the financial services sector needs to be assured that its calls will go through. The GETS card can be used in an emergency or crisis situation when the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is overloaded (congested) and the ability to complete a call by normal means is significantly decreased. WPS is an easy-to-use, add-on feature subscribed to on a per-cell phone basis. It is deployed by cellular service providers throughout the United States. WPS calls will receive priority over normal cellular calls; however, WPS calls do not preempt calls in progress or deny the general public’s use of cellular networks. When financial organizations use GETS or WPS, they will have the assurance that their calls will receive priority routing and will have a very high call completion rate. For more information about the programs, please visit DHS GETS site and DHS WPS site

Sponsorship Eligibility

FBIIC has determined that to qualify for GETS or WPS sponsorship, organizations must support the performance of national security or emergency preparedness functions necessary to maintain the national economic posture during any national or regional emergency. In particular, FBIIC agencies view maintenance of the national or regional economic posture as the minimization of systemic disruption to the financial system directly related to the operation of critical financial markets and related essential services and systems.

Essential services and systems are those that have no easily accessible substitute and that are necessary to support one of three critical national security or emergency preparedness functions in key financial markets and payment mechanisms:

  1. necessary crisis response and coordination activities in your region or community;
  2. resumption and maintenance of economic activity in your region or community; and
  3. the orderly completion of outstanding financial transactions and necessary offsetting transactions that must be completed to avoid a major impact to the regional economic stability.

Essential services and systems include:

  • critical funds transfers systems (wholesale/large-value payment systems);
  • securities and derivatives clearing and settlement systems;
  • supporting communication systems and service providers;
  • key financial market trading systems and exchanges.

Private sector financial organizations and their service providers may qualify for GETS and WPS sponsorship if they play a significant role in one financial market, essential service, or system. In determining whether an individual organization plays a significant role at the regional or national level, the appropriate FBIIC member agency may consider whether the organization:

  1. is a registered securities or futures exchange, self-regulatory organization, registered securities clearing agency ordepository and futures clearinghouse, or their critical service providers or utilities;
  2. acts as market utility for effecting payments or clearance and settlement of transactions;
  3. processes a large aggregate value of daily payments;
  4. provides critical services or systems to financial institutions;
  5. has a national or large regional presence in one or more product lines; or
  6. demonstrates other facts or circumstances that suggest facilitating the organization's access to the GETS priority service in times of national emergency would serve to maintain the national economic posture.

Organizations seeking GETS and WPS sponsorship should complete the attached FBIIC Request for GETS/WPS Sponsorship and send it electronically to the address located at the bottom of the form: [email protected]. Requesting organizations must support their request for sponsorship under the general national security or emergency preparedness criteria stated above.

FBIIC agencies may contact those organizations that clearly qualify under these criteria and inform them of the availability of GETS or WPS Sponsorship.2

Individuals being nominated for GETS and/or WPS usage should be limited to those individuals who play critical roles in the organization's business continuity or crisis response management structure.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long will it take for a financial organization to receive a GETS card once a regulator has decided to allow them to participate in the program?
    • We anticipate that organizations will receive a GETS card within ten business days.
  • Does the GETS card have an expiration date?
    • No.
  • Who sponsors my financial institution for a GETS card?
    • Only your primary federal regulator or association of state regulators can approve your GETS application.

1. The Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee (FBIIC) is chartered under the President's Working Group on Financial Markets, and is charged with improving coordination and communication among financial regulators, enhancing the resiliency of the financial sector, and promoting the public-private partnership. Learn about the FBIIC Members.

2. In its role as a payments system operator, the Federal Reserve has traditionally sponsored significant participants in the payments system for National Communications System services. The Federal Reserve therefore intends to contact those organizations that clearly qualify under the criteria and ask them to provide the names of individuals who should receive GETS cards. The Federal Reserve will notify the other FBIIC agencies of institutions they have contacted.

See other policies and executive orders.