FirstNet Seeks Interest in Board Slots

April 21, 2017–The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) today sought expressions of interest to serve on its board. One of the 12 nonpermanent board member seats is currently vacant; the term for the seat expires in August 2019. The appointments of four current nonpermanent board members expire this August. Expressions of interest are due May 22.

Courtesy TRDaily

 

Pai, Clyburn, O’Rielly Urge BDAC to Keep Varying Factors in Mind

April 21, 2017–FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told the members of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee today during its first meeting that he hopes its members will “help identify solutions” for easing broadband providers’ access to utility poles “that preserve public safety and advance the interests of pole owners and (would-be) users.” FCC Commissioners Mignon L. Clyburn and Mike O’Rielly, meanwhile, emphasized other issues and factors they want the BDAC membership to keep in mind.

During remarks at the meeting, which was held at the FCC’s Washington headquarters, Chairman Pai, who invited applications for BDAC members earlier this year and announced the membership a few weeks ago (TR Daily, April 6), also highlighted the importance of “speeding up broadband deployment on Federal lands. Right now, it takes about twice as long to site infrastructure on Federal lands as it does on privately held land. Shortening that timeline could help prove the business case for deployment in areas where it might not otherwise exist. Here, BDAC recommendations could have a major impact on closing the digital divide, especially for rural and Tribal residents who live on or near Federal lands,” according to his prepared remarks. Continue reading

Democratic Senators Urge Trump to Appoint OSTP Staff

April 21, 2017–Eight Democratic members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee wrote President Trump today urging him to appoint experts for critical posts in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and in others areas of the federal government. “Without adequate OSTP staffing, the country will lack key insights from those with deep experience in these fields. We understand that few staff are currently assigned to OSTP, with only one staff member in the Office of the White House Chief Technology Officer as of last month – a position recently authorized by Congress. Moreover, you have yet to name a science advisor, OSTP director, or Chief Technology Officer. Most OSTP staff are detailed from other Federal agencies, so a build up of staff to OSTP will not require a large influx of new government employees,” the senators said.

“We urge you to nominate well-qualified experts to these and other key science and technology positions within your administration. OSTP leaders must be able to fulfill the Office’s mission of providing accurate, relevant and timely scientific and technological advice to the president and help ensure that federal policy is informed by sound science,” the lawmakers added. “They must have strong scientific and technical backgrounds and understand the scientific method and the need for evidence-based science. They must also be nationally recognized and respected experts with connections to the broader scientific and technology communities so that they can be conduits for the scientific and technical expertise of the nation. As members of the Senate committee of jurisdiction, we pledge to carefully review nominees for these positions who fulfill these criteria.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee; Maggie Hassan (D., N.H.); Edward J. Markey (D., Mass.); Gary Peters (D., Mich.); Tom Udall (D., N.M.); Cory Booker (D., N.J.); Catherine Cortez Masto (D., Nev.); and Brian Schatz (D., Hawaii), ranking member of the communications, technology, innovation and the Internet subcommittee. —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

 

 

 

911 Officials Complain AT&T Failed on Outage Notifications

April 21, 2017–Public safety 911 officials complained in recent conversations with representatives of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau about what they said were inadequate notifications after a March 8 nationwide AT&T, Inc., 911 outage that impacted wireless customers.Last month, the Public Safety Bureau issued a public notice seeking comments on the bureau’s investigation of two AT&T 911 outages that month (TR Daily, March 23).  The bureau’s investigation involves the widely reported outage of AT&T Mobility’s voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) 911 service on March 8, and what appears to be a lesser VoLTE 911 service outage on March 11.

In an ex parte filing in PS docket 17-68 reporting on a phone conversation with bureau staff, National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA) Executive Director Evelyn Bailey said, “In this particular outage, many PSAPs were notified even though they were not actually affected. For instance, PSAPs in Iowa were notified of the outage, but not one of them was affected (that fact was not clear at the time). The result was a flurry of unnecessary activity as people leapt into action to try to get information and determine how to respond. Iowa’s 911 administrator observed that if he had issued a public notice about the outage, and then had to retract it upon learning that his state had not been affected, it would have diminished the credibility of the program and the public’s confidence in the 911 system. It is very important that PSAPs – and state 911 administrators – be able to rely on the accuracy of the outage notification. The affected entity should target its notifications to those PSAPs that are actually affected by the outage. Scattershot notifications cause unnecessary alarm and waste of resources when there is no actual outage.” Continue reading

Bureau Sets Pre-Code-Opening Procedures for 833 Toll-Free Number Assignments

April 21, 2017–The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau today authorized Somos, Inc., the administrator of the toll-free number database, to make numbers in the 833 toll-free code available beginning June 3, and directed it to poll RespOrgs (responsible organizations, which acquire toll-free numbers and assign them to subscribers) and RespOrg groups before the code opening “for a list of up to 2,000 individual 833 numbers the RespOrg or affiliated RespOrg Group requests to be reserved.”

Numbers with multiple reservation requests will be designated “unavailable” in the database, pending a full Commission decision on alternative number-assignment methods.  “After the 833 code opens, the Bureau anticipates that the Commission will initiate a proceeding to consider whether to adopt new toll free number assignment methods or continue its first-come, first-served policy for 833 and any other available toll free numbers for which there are mutually exclusive requests. Alternative assignment methods could include, for example, assignment by auction or lottery. Pending the outcome of this proceeding, all 833 numbers placed in unavailable status in the toll free database due to mutually exclusive requests during the pre-code opening period will remain in that status,” the bureau said in an order adopted today in Common Carrier docket 95-155.

The bureau also increased “the quantity of toll free numbers RespOrgs may reserve under our rules to 4,000 for a brief 5-day period, beginning June 3, 2017.” —Lynn Stanton, lynn.stanton@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

 

FCC’s Public Safety Bureau Recommends Actions to Improve EAS in Wake of Test

April 21, 2017–The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau released a report today that recommends the agency take several actions in the wake of last year’s nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), including encouraging the use of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) as the primary source of alerts and examining how to improve and expand IPAWS alert content.

Today’s 21-page report was generally consistent with initial findings released for the September 2016 nationwide EAS test (TR Daily, Sept. 28, 2016), the second such nationwide test, in a public notice released in December (TR Daily, Jan. 3).

“The 2016 Nationwide EAS Test largely was a success, demonstrating that the national EAS has been significantly strengthened since the 2011 nationwide test,” today’s report concluded. “The test also highlights several areas in which the EAS can continue to be improved. PSHSB will continue to work with FEMA, EAS Participants, and other EAS stakeholders to address these problems and to ensure that the EAS can deliver timely and accurate national alerts and critical emergency information to the public.”

A bureau report released in 2013 about the 2011 test said that it “demonstrated that the national EAS distribution architecture is basically sound,” but it also “uncovered several problems that impeded the ability of some EAS Participants to receive and/or retransmit” alerts (TR Daily, April 15, 2013). That report recommended a number of steps that should be taken to strengthen the EAS and said that another nationwide test should be conducted after that.

Today’s report said that more than 20,000 broadcasters, cable operators, and other EAS participants took part in last year’s test, or 95% of all EAS participants, which was a 25% improvement over the 2011 test.  “The results further show that the IPAWS version of the alert delivered superior digital sound and successfully delivered non-English alerts to those EAS Participants that wished to distribute them,” the report added.

“Test data also reveals, however, that a range of operational and technical issues still remain that affect nationwide EAS test performance across all states …” the report added.

“Almost half of test participants received the test over-the-air rather than from IPAWS, and these participants were unable to deliver the CAP [common alerting protocol]-formatted digital audio, Spanish, and text files as a result,” the bureau said. “Additionally, some EAS Participants failed to receive or retransmit alerts due to erroneous equipment configuration, equipment readiness and upkeep issues, and confusion regarding EAS rules and technical requirements.” In addition, “some EAS Participant groups had low participation rates, particularly Low Power broadcasters.”

Regarding the complications reported by EAS test participants, the report elaborated that they “included equipment configuration issues, equipment failures, failure to update equipment software, audio quality issues, source issues, clock errors, and, in some cases, noncompliance with the part 11 rules.” Continue reading

FCC Announces Repacking Coordinators

April 20, 2017–The FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force and Media Bureau released a public notice today to announce regional coordinators during the repacking of TV stations in the wake of the incentive auction. “To enhance its ability to closely monitor the progress of the repack and to facilitate coordination among stations, each station that will transition to a new channel has been grouped into one of 10 geographically-based regions.  Each region has a dedicated Bureau staff member as a Regional Coordinator,” the public notice said.

“Regional Coordinators will act as a first point of contact at the Commission for stations and, with the support of other Bureau staff and other Commission bureaus and offices, will assist in resolving issues and challenges that stations in the region encounter as a result of the transition.”

Courtesy TRDaily