TSP Policy

Telecommunications Service Priority (TSP) Program

Sponsorship of Priority Telecommunications Access for Private Sector Entities through the National Communications System Telecommunications Service Priority (TSP) Program

The National Communications System (NCS) was established in 1963 to provide priority communications support to critical government functions during emergencies. In 1984 the national security and emergency preparedness capabilities of NCS were broadened and an interagency group (currently twenty-two federal departments and agencies) was formed to help coordinate and plan national security and emergency preparedness services. The NCS has developed a number of priority telecommunications services that are also available to private sector entities through sponsorship by an NCS member department or agency. The events of September 11, 2001 put a new focus on the importance of these programs to the nation and to the financial sector.

In order to provide guidance to financial organizations seeking sponsorship for NCS services, the Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee (FBIIC)1 has developed a series of policies on the sponsorship of priority telecommunications access for private sector entities through the NCS. The goals of the policies are twofold: first, to make financial organizations aware of NCS programs and, second, to provide consistent guidance regarding qualification criteria and the appropriate process for organizations that want to gain access to the programs.

As a first step, on July 22, 2002 FBIIC established a policy and process to sponsor qualifying financial organizations for Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS). The below policy addresses FBIIC's policy and process to sponsor qualifying financial sector organizations for the NCS Telecommunications Service Priority (TSP) Program.

TSP Program

The TSP Program was developed to ensure priority treatment for the Nation's most important telecommunication services, services supporting national security and emergency preparedness missions. Following natural or technical disasters, telecommunications service vendors may become overwhelmed with requests for new services and requirements to restore existing services. The TSP Program authorizes and requires service vendors to provision and restore TSP assigned services before non-TSP services and provides vendors with legal protection for giving preferential treatment to users engaged in national security and emergency preparedness over users that are not.

The TSP Program has two components: restoration and provisioning. A restoration priority is applied to new or existing telecommunication services to ensure their restoration before any non-TSP services. Priority restoration is necessary for a TSP service because interruptions may have a serious adverse effect on the supported national security and emergency preparedness function. TSP restoration priorities must be requested and assigned before a service outage occurs. As a matter of general practice, telecommunications service vendors restore existing TSP services before provisioning new TSP services. A provisioning priority is obtained to facilitate priority installation of new telecommunication services. Provisioning on a priority basis becomes necessary when a service user has an urgent need for a new national security and emergency preparedness service that must be installed immediately (e.g., in an emergency) or in a shorter than normal interval.

Telecommunication carrier tariffs for providing TSP are filed with the Federal Communications Commission and state regulatory agencies. The tariffs permit carriers to assess a one-time charge and a monthly charge for each circuit assigned a TSP restoration authorization code. In the event new service is provisioned under TSP, carriers can apply a surcharge to the normal installation charges for each telecommunication service ordered. Finally, telecommunication carriers can assess a penalty to TSP customers for reporting an erroneous outage on a TSP circuit that is traced to the customer's premise equipment. Private-sector organizations that lease circuits that are granted TSP status must bear the cost of all tariffs for TSP.

All national security and emergency preparedness missions fall into one of five TSP Program categories. Related telecommunications services qualify for some level of TSP protection. The level is determined in part by the category that represents the organization's mission. The five categories are: (A) National Security Leadership, (B) National Security Posture and US Population Attack Warning, (C) Public Health, Safety, and Maintenance of Law and Order, (D) Public Welfare and Maintenance of the National Economic Posture, and (E) Emergency (Provisioning Requests Only). Categories A through D are referred to as "essential services".

Telecommunications services are designated as essential where a disruption of "a few minutes to one day" could seriously affect the continued operations that support a national security and emergency preparedness function. Essential services are assigned a priority on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 as the highest priority) based on the appropriate category. Services in category A qualify for priority levels 1-5; those in category B qualify for priority levels 2-5; those in category C qualify for priority levels 3-5; and services in category D qualify for priority levels 4-5.

Any organization, federal government, state government, local government, private industry, or foreign government that has telecommunication services supporting a national security and emergency preparedness mission is eligible to participate in the TSP Program. All non-federal TSP requests must be sponsored by a Federal agency. A sponsor can be any federal agency with which a non-Federal user may be affiliated. The sponsoring Federal agency ensures the telecommunications service supports a national security and emergency preparedness function and merits TSP.

Sponsorship Criteria

FBIIC policy builds upon and extends the TSP sponsorship policies established by the Federal Reserve Board. FBIIC policy contains additional sponsorship criteria to explicitly encompass a broader group of eligible telecommunication circuits.

FBIIC agencies have determined that to qualify for TSP sponsorship, financial organizations and their service providers must support the performance of national security and emergency preparedness functions necessary to maintain the national economic posture (category D above). FBIIC agencies will sponsor circuits which meet the criteria described below.

  1. Circuits Supporting Critical Payment System Participants (Depository Institutions, Financial Utilities)
    • The Federal Reserve Board originally established policies and procedures for its sponsorship of organizations for priority provisioning and restoration of telecommunications services under the TSP program in 1993 (58 FR 38569, July 19, 1993). The Board updated its sponsorship policy and expanded its sponsorship criteria. Further information is available through the Board's website www.federalreserve.gov.
  2. Circuits Supporting Key Securities & Derivatives Markets Participants
    • In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission will sponsor circuits owned or leased by organizations that play key roles in the conduct or operation of the securities and derivatives markets and related clearance and settlement systems.
  3. Circuits Supporting Other National Security and Emergency Preparedness Services
    • FBIIC agencies will also sponsor circuits owned or leased by an organization that do not meet the above sponsorship criteria if a disruption of those circuits could seriously affect operations that support the maintenance of the national economic posture.

Sponsorship Criteria

The individual FBIIC agencies will contact appropriate financial organizations and service providers for which they are the primary regulator and inform them of the process to be followed to apply for TSP sponsorship.

If a financial organization or service provider believes that one or more of its circuits qualify for TSP sponsorship, it should submit a sponsorship request in accordance with the process established by its primary regulator.

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.

See other policies and executive orders.