Johnson unveils bipartisan ALERT Parity Act

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) recently introduced bipartisan legislation that would improve commercial mobile service coverage in unserved areas to give people the ability to make emergency 911 calls. 

“This lifesaving legislation would enable access to emergency services for areas that would otherwise not have access to cellular services – especially in rural areas like Appalachia Ohio, where I represent,” Rep. Johnson said.

Rep. Johnson sponsored the Advanced, Local Emergency Response Telecommunications (ALERT) Parity Act, H.R. 9569, on Dec. 15 with cosponsor U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA). The text of the bill states that it would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to issue rules for the provision of emergency connectivity service. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will consider the legislation.

“The ALERT Parity Act would ensure every American, regardless of their ZIP code, would be able to receive critical emergency alerts and make 911 calls,” Rep. Johnson said.

The congressman’s staff explained the bill would allow providers of emergency connectivity services, including providers of satellite direct-to-cell service, to apply to the FCC to access spectrum to improve commercial mobile service coverage gaps in underserved areas. 

“Satellites provide broadband to many areas but right now can’t provide access to for emergency services,” said Rep. Schrier. “That’s why I’m glad to be introducing the bipartisan ALERT Parity Act to allow the FCC to create guidelines to protect satellite companies, paving the way for satellites to provide access to emergency services.”

Rep. Johnson added, “It is critical that Congress address the challenges Americans living in technologically underserved areas face when it comes to cellular connectivity.”