The Communications Sector is an integral component of the U.S. economy. It underlies the operations of all businesses, public safety organizations, and governments. Presidential Policy Directive 21 identifies the Communications Sector as critical because it provides an “enabling function” across all critical infrastructure sectors. Over the last 25 years, the sector has evolved from being predominantly a provider of voice services into a diverse, competitive, and interconnected industry using terrestrial, satellite, and wireless transmission systems. Regulate satellite, wireless, and wireline providers depend on one another to carry and terminate their traffic, and companies routinely share facilities and technology to ensure interoperability.
The private sector, as owners and operators of the majority of communications infrastructure, is the primary entity responsible for protecting sector infrastructure and assets. Working with the federal government, the private sector is able to anticipate and respond to sector outages and understand how they might affect the ability of the national leadership to communicate during times of crisis, impact the operations of other sectors, and affect response and recovery efforts.
The Communications Sector is closely linked to other sectors, including:
- The Energy Sector provides power to run cellular towers, central offices, and other critical communications facilities
- The Information Technology Sector provides critical control systems and services, physical architecture and Internet infrastructure
- The Financial Services Sector relies on communications for the transmission of transactions and operations of financial markets
- The Emergency Services Sector depends on communications for directing resources, coordinating response, alerting the public, and receiving emergency 911 calls