Government Emergency Telecommunications Services (GETS)



The logo of the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service.

“The Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS) is a White House-directed emergency phone service provided by the National Communications System (NCS) in the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications Division, National Protection and Programs Directorate, Department of Homeland Security. GETS supports Federal, State, local, and tribal government, industry, and non-governmental organization (NGO) personnel in performing their National Security and Emergency Preparedness (NS/EP) missions. GETS provides emergency access and priority processing in the local and long distance segments of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). It is intended to be used in an emergency or crisis situation when the PSTN is congested and the probability of completing a call over normal or other alternate telecommunication means has significantly decreased.

GETS is necessary because of the increasing reliance on telecommunications. The economic viability and technical feasibility of such advances as nationwide fiber optic networks, high-speed digital switching, and intelligent features have revolutionized the way we communicate. This growth has been accompanied by an increased vulnerability to network congestion and system failures. Although backup systems are in place, disruptions in service can still occur. Recent events have shown that natural disasters, power outages, fiber cable cuts, and software problems can cripple the telephone services of entire regions. Additionally, congestion in the PSTN, such as the well-documented "Mother's Day phenomenon," can prevent access to circuits. However, during times of emergency, crisis, or war, personnel with NS/EP missions need to know that their calls will go through. GETS addresses this need. Using enhancements based on existing commercial technology, GETS allows the NS/EP community to communicate over existing PSTN paths with a high likelihood of call completion during the most severe conditions of high-traffic congestion and disruption. The result is a cost-effective, easy-to-use emergency telephone service that is accessed through a simple dialing plan and Personal Identification Number (PIN) card verification methodology. It is maintained in a constant state of readiness as a means to overcome network outages through such methods as enhanced routing and priority treatment.

GETS uses these major types of networks:

  • The local networks provided by Local Exchange Carriers (LECs) and wireless providers, such as cellular carriers and personal communications services (PCS)
  • The major long-distance networks provided by Interexchange Carriers (IXCs) – 
    AT&T, Verizon Business, and Sprint – including their international services
  • Government-leased networks, such as the Federal Technology Service (FTS) , the Diplomatic Telecommunication Service (DTS), and the Defense Switched Network (DSN)

GETS is accessed through a universal access number using common telephone equipment such as a standard desk set, STU-III, facsimile, modem, or wireless phone. A prompt will direct the entry of your PIN and the destination telephone number. Once you are authenticated as a valid user, your call is identified as an NS/EP call and receives special treatment.” (

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