The Next Frontier in Priority Services Capabilities: Multimedia Applications and Information Services over Wi-Fi, Cellular, and Cable Networks

Author: An P. Nguyen, Electronics Engineer, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is assigned to oversee the development, testing, implementation, and sustainment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness (NS/EP) communications by White House tasking (Executive Order 13618). In response to this Executive Order, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) developed the Next Generation Network Priority Services (NGN PS) program to provide priority voice, data, video, and information services to ensure all NS/EP users can communicate from anywhere and anytime. This program will provide NS/EP priority services users with higher probability of communications success while supporting the emergency and disaster response areas and improving national resilience.

While the NGN PS Phase 1 program’s goal was to transition from circuit to packet voice priority service, Phase 2 program’s goal is to extend priority service to multimedia applications (e.g., real-time communications such as Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom, Teams; audio and video streaming such as YouTube, and Spotify and data services such as email, Web access, texting, messaging) and information services such as enterprise web applications, cloud services, and online photo storage and retrieval. The Phase 2 program will add priority capabilities into the network service providers’ environments, facilitating interoperable priority across commercial (i.e., wireline [e.g., cable, fiber]), wireless (e.g., cellular (4G/5G), Wi-Fi, and satellite), government, and private networks. These capabilities will ensure that NS/EP officials have the prioritized network connectivity for communications in disaster and disadvantaged scenarios. 

As CISA works to realize the Phase 2 program objectives, it has engaged with various standards organizations (such as the 3rd Generation Partnership Project [3GPP], Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions [ATIS], Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers [IEEE], and Internet Engineering Task Force [IETF]) and industry partners on standardizing priority access capabilities to reduce cost and promote the availability of interoperable capabilities in the market. CISA’s goal is to take advantage of priority access features that are specified in IEEE and in 3GPP.

CISA is also monitoring the progress in industry consortia (such as CableLabs, Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN), Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), OpenStack, and Wi-Fi Alliance), and will engage with the service providers to understand their technology readiness for deployment. CISA expects that the industry will move quickly to make the features available through their network functions that may include industry certified products.   In particular, CISA’s goal is to take advantage of the priority access capabilities while NS/EP users are connecting to managed-IP networks via Wi-Fi access. This will allow priority communications for NS/EP users in scenarios such as inside a building, airport, stadium, or places that have poor cellular radio coverage.

In addition to GETS (Government Emergency Telecommunications Service) and WPS (Wireless Priority Service), priority voice, data, video, and information services capabilities over Wi-Fi, cellular, and cable networks are expected to be available to NS/EP users in a few years.


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