FirstNet Weekly Update to the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) – August 29, 2016

FirstNet News

On Friday, the FirstNet Board approved a $6.585 billion budget that will support the award of the FirstNet Network contract in Fiscal Year 2017 and includes $85 million for FirstNet operations.  Additional information is available in this FirstNet press release.

Also last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moved forward on two items related to the planning of the FirstNet Network.  The FCC unanimously voted to release a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on the process it will use for any state or territory that chooses to deploy its own Radio Access Network, as well as an Order on the relocation of Band 14 public safety incumbents.  FirstNet commended the FCC on taking these critical steps in planning for the Network in a press release.

FirstNet posted three blog entries last week: #APCO2016 Highlights Strong Commitment to Public Safety Mission; Crowdsourcing Solutions for Public Safety Communications (reposted from the Public Safety Communications Research program’s Quarterly Newsletter); and Ride along: See how mobile devices help first responders work effectively and save lives, the fifth in the series “10 Ways FirstNet Will Help Public Safety Save Lives and Secure Communities.”  All blog posts are available on the FirstNet blog at: Continue reading

OEC Outreach Clips: Mission Critical Reports Colorado Springs PD Buys 500 Body Cameras

The Colorado Springs (Colorado) Police Department purchased 500 body cameras from Utility. The department is expected to begin deployment in September.  BodyWorn uses a smartphone embedded into the officer’s uniform, ensuring the camera remains secure, does not become dislodged and always records the full scene in front of the officer. The system automatically uploads video content to a secure cloud storage system and does not require officers to manually plug in devices to a docking station back at the precinct. Read more here:

Colorado Springs Police Department Buys 500 Body Cameras


OEC Outreach Clips: Urgent Communications Reports Police vests go broadband: How body-worn cameras affect mission critical infrastructure

Officers, jurisdictions, and even ordinary citizens are warming to the idea of police body wear cameras (BWCs). These cameras are worn by officers to record encounters with citizens—law-abiding and otherwise—providing a clearer view of what happened, and why, during an encounter. For video to be useful as an official record or even as evidence, it must be transmitted and stored in a manner that will ensure that it cannot be tampered with. Unlike with other evidence, video needs to pass through a network infrastructure in order to move from the field to a secure storage area—and there is no reason to assume that the networks that police use are any safer from hackers than the networks banks, government, and ordinary citizens use. Read more: Police vests go broadband: How body-worn cameras affect mission critical infrastructure

Bureau Extends Freeze on Mexico Border 800 MHz Applications

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau has extended the freeze on accepting applications to operate in the 800 megahertz band along the U.S.-Mexico border until Feb. 1, 2017.  “As of this date, many Mexico border region licensees have yet to complete their system re-tunes. Accordingly, to preserve currently vacant channels for use by these licensees and avoid potential licensing conflicts, we extend the freeze on the acceptance of non-rebanding applications for 800 MHz licenses operating in the NPSPAC Regions listed in the attached Appendix. This freeze also applies to those stations located within seventy miles of the borders of these NPSPAC Regions,” the bureau said in a public notice released today in Wireless Telecommunications docket 02-55.

“The freeze applies only to applications for new facilities or modification applications that involve a change of frequency or expand a station’s existing coverage area. Applications that do not affect frequency or coverage (e.g., administrative updates, assignments/transfers, and renewal-only applications) are not subject to the freeze,” it added.  A 2012 U.S.-Mexico agreement on a shared band plan was intended to improve the ability of U.S. public safety and commercial wireless broadband licensees to use the 800 MHz spectrum in border states.

Courtesy TRDaily


FirstNet Board Approves 2017 Budget with $6.5 Billion for Network Contract

August 26, 2016–The board of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) today approved the organization’s $6.585 billion budget for fiscal year 2017 and granted the FirstNet management team more authority in making spending decisions. The bulk of the budget, $6.5 billion, is earmarked for the yet-to-be-selected winner of a contract to deploy the FirstNet public safety interoperable network using 20 megahertz of 700 MHz band spectrum allocated to FirstNet for that purpose.  Another $84.6 million is for FirstNet’s operations, according to a management team presentation during a special teleconference meeting of the board and finance committee today.

FirstNet Board Chairwoman Sue Swenson emphasized during the meeting that the board is willing to work with management if adjustments in the budget are needed going forward. The budget approved today “will drive the achievement of major milestones along our Strategic Roadmap in what will be a pivotal year for FirstNet, including critical post-award priorities such as State plans and continued outreach to public safety,” Ms. Swenson said in a press statement. Continue reading

FCC Approves Relocation Mechanism for FirstNet Spectrum

August 26, 2016–The FCC has unanimously approved a mechanism proposed by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to help public safety narrowband incumbents currently operating in the 700 megahertz spectrum allocated to FirstNet relocate to other frequencies.  However, the Commission declined to impose build-out obligations on FirstNet that go beyond those specified by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. In the report and order and notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) adopted Aug. 24 and released today in Public Safety dockets 16-269, 12-94, and 06-229 and Wireless Telecommunications docket 06-150, the FCC said that the public safety spectrum provisions of the 2012 Act “provide adequate milestones to ensure rural coverage while also providing both FirstNet and the states flexibility in terms of planning for optimal network coverage. We will continue to monitor FirstNet’s buildout progress against these milestones, and expect that existing reporting obligations will be sufficient to allow the Commission to carry out its license renewal responsibilities.”

The accompanying NPRM launches “a new proceeding to seek comment on proposed procedures for administering the state opt-out process as provided under the Public Safety Spectrum Act, as well as on our implementation of the specific statutory standards by which the Commission is obligated to evaluate state opt-out applications,” the FCC said.

Regarding relocation of incumbents, the order says, “We find that prompt relocation of incumbents remains an imperative to successful deployment of the FirstNet nationwide public safety broadband network, and that certainty with respect to the timing of this process will support this goal. We also agree with FirstNet and other commenters that support the funding proposal made by FirstNet. Accordingly, we find that the process that FirstNet has proposed and the grant program it has implemented are sufficient to ensure a smooth, timely, and adequately funded transition by narrowband incumbents, while providing flexibility to all involved. Continue reading

APCO’s Urgent Call to Action

We write to you today to request that you take action immediately to ensure the federal government reclassifies Public Safety Telecommunicators as “Protective” occupations, placing them alongside other public safety occupations as opposed to the current classification with secretaries and taxicab dispatchers. Time is running out, and we won’t have another chance to change this for 10 years.

Our initial call to action, announced during a webinar with a few hundred participants, asked you to tell the federal officials involved that you disagreed with their initial decision to maintain the status quo. Within 18 hours, more than 5,000 of you and your colleagues responded. So far, less than half that number have responded to our current action items. You may be thinking that others are taking action so what’s one more email or one more comment filed. But your colleagues may be thinking the same thing. Don’t let your inaction be the reason we lose this fight. To win this fight, we need responses in the tens of thousands. We understand that the federal officials need significant data to support changing the classification so no one can afford to sit on the sidelines.

APCO’s Take Action page has links to forms that make advocacy as simple as possible.  We are asking members, colleagues, and supporters to:

  1. Relate a story to the federal officials that illustrates the protective work performed by 9-1-1 professionals (see our simple guide to filing comments); and
  2. Ask Congress to join the fight.

You can find more information on the reclassification process on APCO’s website, and our staff is here to answer any questions –

This is a major effort, and we will only succeed with your support. You and I know that 9-1-1 professionals are saving lives every day, and appropriate recognition for this work is long overdue. #911protectsme