Communications is one of sixteen Critical Infrastructure sectors identified in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP). The Communications Sector Coordinating Council (CSCC) meets regularly to review industry and government actions on critical infrastructure protection priorities and cross sector issues. The CSCC coordinates with industry participants in the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) and the Communications Information Sharing and Analysis Center (COMM-ISAC).

The CSCC was established and chartered in 2005 to help coordinate initiatives to improve the physical security and cybersecurity of sector assets; to ease the flow of information within the communications sector, across critical infrastructure sectors, and with
designated Federal agencies; and to address issues related to response and recovery following an incident or event. The CSCC is industry-organized, industry-run, and industry-governed.

To facilitate effective coordination between federal infrastructure protection programs with the infrastructure protection activities of the private sector and of state, local, territorial and tribal governments, DHS established the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council (CIPAC). The CIPAC is a partnership between government and critical infrastructure owners and operators. It provides a forum in which they can engage in a broad spectrum of activities to support and coordinate critical infrastructure protection, including planning, coordination, security program implementation, operational activities related to critical infrastructure protection security measures, and information sharing about threats, vulnerabilities, protective measures, recommended practices, and lessons learned, as stated in the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) 2013: Partnering for Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience, or any subsequently-dated issuances thereof, and the critical infrastructure sector construct outlined in the Presidential Policy Directive-21, Critical Infrastructure
Security and Resilience

In addition to the CSCC as the policy planning and execution component of the communications sector, two other industry-led groups are: the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC), an advisory committee to the President, which is the policy component; and the Information Sharing and Analysis Center for Communications (Comm-ISAC), which coordinates response to emergency communications situations and is the operational component of the communications sector.

The communications sector is composed of private sector organizations with business operations in the United States, including:

  • Owners/operators of infrastructure used within the sector’s core networks, including broadcasting, cable, satellite, wireless, and wireline.
  • Trade and other associations representing sector members on Homeland Security or CIP (Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources (CIKR)) policy-related matters.
  • Standards-setting bodies, manufacturers, suppliers, and vendors of communications equipment, software, and services in support of the core communications infrastructure.

The communications sector’s core networks are the communications networks that consist of high-capacity network elements enabling local, regional, nationwide, and international connectivity:

Broadcasting: Broadcasting systems consist of free, over-the-air radio and television stations that offer analog and digital audio and video programming services and data services.

Cable: Cable networks provide high-speed wired and wireless Internet access service, video programming service, and digital telephone service.

Satellite: This is a platform launched into orbit to relay voice, video, or data signals as part of a telecommunications network.

Wireless: Consists of cellular phones, paging, personal communication services, high-frequency radio, unlicensed wireless, and other commercial and private radio services.

Wireline: Consists primarily of fiber optic and copper-based networks that carry the nation’s public phone traffic, wide and local area data traffic, as well as the nation’s Internet traffic.