5Communications

The communication sector embraces all forms of electronic communications—communication satellite networks, landline telephone communications, radio, television, geographical positioning system (GPS) navigation, LORAN,1 and wireless cellular and noncellular communication networks involving voice, data, and Internet. However, this chapter does not discuss broadcast communications such as radio, television, GPS, and LORAN. Rather, it focuses on the primary means of two-way personal communications via telephones and the Internet.

This chapter describes how the communication sector is structured, how it works, its resiliency, and potential threat–asset pairs:

  • Three interconnected networks: The three major telecommunication network infrastructure components are landlines, wireless, and extraterrestrial networks (communication satellites). These three provide a level of resilience through redundancy, but each one is vulnerable to physical, cyber, and high-powered microwave (HPM) attacks.
  • Multiple regulations: Communication networks are primarily owned and operated by the private sector. These owners exert influence on the sector through the President’s National Security Telecom Advisory Committee (NSTAC), which is a direct link to the executive branch of the U.S. government. On the other hand, there is no clear-cut unity of government’s role and responsibilities in the communication sector: it is regulated by at least three agencies—the Federal Communications Commission’s ...

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