NPSTC Issues Summer 2013 Regulatory Update

NPSTC Summer 2013 Regulatory Update

  • Comment Sought on Request to Waive the Narrowband Deadline Indefinitely
  • Grant of Greater Boston Police Council Request to Waive T-Band Application Freeze
  • White House Memorandum on Promoting Spectrum Efficiencies
  • 900 MHz Application Freeze Modified
  • City and County of San Francisco Granted Slow Growth Waiver On Nextel Vacated Spectrum
  • Financial True-Up Deadline Extended
  • Region 21’s Plan Amendment Approved

NTIA Offers Latest Figures on BTOP Achievements

As of the end of March, 182 of the 224 Broadband Technology Opportunities Program projects overseen by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration remained in active status, NTIA said in its latest quarterly status report on the program to the Senate and House Appropriations and Commerce committees. During the second quarter of fiscal 2013, BTOP recipients added 6,500 additional network miles for a total of more than 93,000 miles, with a goal of 100,000 miles by the end of fiscal 2013.  During FY13 Q2, BTOP recipients also connected about 1,800 community anchor institutions, for a total of 14,000 institutions, with a goal of 20,000 by the end of FY13.  By the end of the quarter, recipients had installed a cumulative total of 42,000 work stations at public computer centers, already passing the FY13 goal of 40,000 work stations.  Sustainable broadband adoption projects reported nearly 540,000 households and 4,800 businesses subscribed to broadband through the end of March, with a goal of 600,000 combined households and businesses by the end of FY13.

NPSTC Outreach News June 23, 2013

npstc daily news header
June 23, 2013

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) periodically publishes news of interest to the public safety telecommunications community, including releases from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and links to articles from various trade publications.

The following links provided courtesy, Charley Bryson, NPSTC Outreach. 

FCC To Hold Open Commission Meeting, Thursday, June 27, 2013

Prepared Remarks of FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon L. Clyburn, UTC Critical Infrastructure Communications Policy Summit, Washington, DC.

FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – In the matter of FCC 13-40, responses to the 700 MHz Notice of Proposed Rule Making are attached.  All responses can be read at the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System under Docket proceeding 13-87.  Attached please find the responses of APCO, NPSTC, and State of Maryland.  In summary, almost all filers asked the FCC to delay the date for narrowbanding certain 700 MHz channels or to eliminate the requirement all together.

To read all comments, click on and in “Proceeding Number,” enter 13-87.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has filed a Petition for Waiver with the FCC to utilize some of the 700 MHz “reserve” channels.  In the filing, WMATA joins LA-RICS in seeking to use this undesignated spectrum.  This is a particularly important Petition as it introduces the unique issues associated with multi-state licensing.

 In the news:

FCC contemplates two ways to stamp out inmate use of contraband cell phones in prison \

Senate Bill Would Make Metal Theft a Federal Offense

LA-RICS approves spectrum-lease agreement

NPSTC BBWG Seeks Volunteers for NEW Public Safety Grade Task Group

The NPSTC Broadband Working Group (BBWG) is seeking public safety and industry volunteers to work on a new Task Group to help determine the requirements and definition for the phrase “Public Safety Grade” (PSG).  This definition is of critical importance to public safety agencies and to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) which has been charged with building a nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN).

The phrase “public safety grade” has been used in several Statement of Requirements (SoR) documents relating to broadband systems and services. The intent of the PSG terminology is to convey the need for design choices that support a greater overall network reliability and resiliency to network disruptions compared to commercial networks. The goal is for the NPSBN to be equivalent to public safety land mobile radio (LMR) systems that support law, fire, and emergency medical service (EMS) operations and are commonly referred to as “mission critical systems.”

Reliability is achieved in public safety LMR systems through equipment redundancy and minimizing single points of failures.

Resiliency is achieved through careful network design, taking into consideration a variety of local environmental factors and how events such as earthquakes, wild land fires, hurricanes, floods, lightning, ice, tornadoes, and even vermin can disrupt or damage the NPSBN network.

Volunteers interested in joining this Task Group should email no later than July 26.  Please include the phrase “Public Safety Grade” in your email response subject line. We also need your name, agency/organization, and contact phone number.

APCO International Celebrates 79th Annual Conference & Expo in Anaheim, CA on August 18-21

Come Visit NPSTC in Booth 1256 on Monday, August 19, 10am-6pm and Tuesday, August 20, 10am-4pm

Come join us to hear the latest on current events in public safety communications including 4.9 GHz, the T-Band, and Broadband.  NPSTC will host a panel on Wednesday, August 21, 10:15-11:15 am. in Room: 207C.  Panel Members include:

  • NPSTC  Chair, Ralph Haller
  • NPSTC Executive Director, Marilyn  Ward
  • NPSTC Spectrum Management Committee Chair,  Dave Buchanan
  • Governing Board Member representing the International Association of Chiefs of  Police (IACP), Harlin McEwen
  • NPSTC Technology Committee Chair, Tom Sorley

Additional Meetings Include: 

  • Radio PCR Committee Meeting, Tuesday, August 20th, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m., Marriott,  Los Angeles Room [This is not listed in the APCO conference program.]
  • T-Band Report Presentation: Wednesday,  August 21, 9:00 – 10:00 a.m, Room not yet assigned.
  • 4.9 GHz National Plan Meeting, Wednesday,  August 21, 2:00 to 3:30 p.m., Room 209-A [This is not listed in the APCO conference program.]


Hope to see you there!  Visit and

Why Can’t Public Safety Just Use Cell Phones and Smart Phones for Their Mission Critical Communications?

Why can’t public safety just use cell phones and smart phones for their mission critical voice communications?

Unfortunately it’s not that simple.

Although public safety regularly use cell phones, smart phones, and other commercial wireless devices and services as a secondary form of communications, these devices and systems are currently not sufficiently suited for public safety mission critical voice communications during critical incidents.

Public safety officials cannot depend upon commercial systems that can be overloaded and unavailable.  Experience has shown such systems are often the most unreliable during critical incidents when public demand overwhelms the systems.

Public safety officials have unique and demanding communications requirements.  Optimal public safety radio communications require:

  • Dedicated channels and priority access that is available at all times to handle unexpected emergencies.
  • Mission-critical one-to-many group capability, a feature not available in today’s commercial cellular systems.
  • Highly reliable and redundant networks that are engineered and maintained to withstand natural disasters and other emergencies.
  • The best possible coverage within a jurisdictional area, with a minimum of dead zones – even in areas where commercial cellular services are not economically viable.
  • And, unique, ruggedized equipment designed for quick response in emergency situations.  First responders must not be forced to dial, wait for call connections, or get busy signals when seconds mean the difference between life and death!

Why can’t public safety just use the planned nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) for their mission critical voice communications?

Again, it’s not that simple.

Although the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) will have voice capabilities that will be valuable to public safety, the network will not be able to initially provide (for many years and maybe never) the mission critical level of voice service and dependability needed by public safety.  The NPSBN is intended to provide urgently needed broadband data capabilities for public safety and is not initially being designed to replace current land mobile radio (LMR) mission critical public safety voice systems.

The key element lacking for the NPSBN to replace LMR is that the NPSBN will use LTE commercial technology, a network technology that does not currently provide the “OFF NETWORK” capability that is critical to public safety.  This means that when the broadband network is not available or not reachable there can be no communications, a critical requirement for public safety.

Other key elements required for mission critical voice include but are not limited to:

  • Nationwide broadband build out:  It will take 10 years or more to build out the nationwide public safety broadband network to provide mission critical coverage equal to current public safety land mobile networks.
  • Direct Mode or Talk Around: The capability to communicate unit-to-unit when out of range of a wireless network OR when working in a confined area where direct unit-to-unit communications is required.
  • Push-to-Talk (PTT): The standard form of public safety voice communications today.  The speaker pushes a button on the radio and immediately transmits the voice message to one or many other units.  When they are done talking they release the PTT switch and return to the listen mode of operation.
  • Group Call: This method of voice communications provides communications from one-to-many members of a group and is of vital importance to the public safety community.

There is much debate relative to whether broadband will eventually have the capabilities to replace current mission-critical public safety LMR systems, however the facts are clear that if this capability becomes reality it is not likely to happen in less than 10 years.

Local, tribal, state, and federal public officials are urged to not abandon or stop funding their public safety voice LMR systems until such time as it can be demonstrated that broadband can safely and adequately provide public safety with the mission critical requirements currently provided by LMR.

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPTSC) is a federation of organizations whose mission is to improve public safety communications and interoperability through collaborative leadership.

Voting Members

  1. AASHTO………… American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
  2. ARRL……………. American Radio Relay League
  3. AFWA…………… Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
  4. APCO……………. Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials – International
  5. FCCA……………. Forestry Conservation Communications Association
  6. IACP…………….. International Association of Chiefs of Police
  7. IAEM……………. International Association of Emergency Managers
  8. IAFC…………….. International Association of Fire Chiefs
  9. IMSA……………. International Municipal Signal Association
  10. NASCIO………… National Association of State Chief Information Officers
  11. NASEMSO………. National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials
  12. NASF……………. National Association of State Foresters
  13. NASTD………….. National Association of State Technology Directors
  14. NENA……………. National Emergency Number Association
    1. NSA……………… National Sheriffs’ Association

Associate Members (Non-Voting)

  1. ATIS………….. Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions
  2. CITIG………… Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group
  3. NCSWIC……… National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators
  4. TIA…………… Telecommunications Industry Association
  5. UTC…………… Utilities Telecom Council

Liaison Organizations (Non-Voting)

  1. FCC…………… Federal Communications Commission
  2. FEMA…………. Federal Emergency Management Agency
  3. FPIC………….. Federal Partnership for Interoperable Communications
  4. NTIA…………. National Telecommunications and Information Association
  5. OEC………….. Office of Emergency Communications
  6. OIC…………… Office for Interoperability and Compatibility
  7. PSCE…………. Public Safety Communication Europe
  8. US DOI………. US Department of the Interior
  9. US DOJ………. US Department of Justice


NPSTC Mission Critical Voice Definition

Voice over Broadband Articles:

Voice and Public Safety Broadband

Mission-Critical Voice over LTE: What, When and How?

Mission-Critical Voice and LTE: Be Careful

NPSTC Outreach News July

npstc daily news header
July 23, 2013

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) periodically publishes news of interest to the public safety telecommunications community, including releases from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and links to articles from various trade publications.

NPSTC Files Reply Comments in 700 MHz Proceeding on July 18:  The Reply Comments address a number of rules and proposals for the public safety 700 MHz narrowband spectrum located at 769-775/799-805 MHz, and expand on and clarify issues addressed in NPSTC’s Comments submitted June 18.  NPSTC recommended the Commission 1) eliminate or significantly extend the current December 31, 2016 deadline that requires operation at 6.25 kHz or equivalent efficiency; 2) modify the rules to allow low altitude, low power airborne public safety operations on certain channels currently designated for secondary trunked use; and 3) open the reserve channels for a combination of nationwide deployable use and permanent operations under certain conditions in areas where additional spectrum is required as determined by licensees and RPCs.  NPSTC also addressed a number of additional issues the Commission had raised in the Seventh Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the Compliance Assessment Program.   These NPSTC Reply Comments reaffirm and expand upon some of the issues addressed in NPSTC’s original Comments. 

VQiPS Workshop Scheduled for October 2-3, Houston, TX:  Save the Date for the 2013 Video Quality in Public Safety (VQiPS) Workshop to be held on October 2-3 at the Doubletree in Houston Greenway Plaza.  The deadline to register is 5PM ET Friday, September 6; however, registration will be limited so register early!   Invitational Travel is available for practitioners.  If you might be eligible for invitational travel, please e-mail no later than 5PM ET Friday, August 23.   For all other attendees, please contact the hotel toll free at 1-800-222-8733 to make your own reservations and ask to be put underneath the “Department of Homeland Security” room block at a room rate of $109.  Please do this no later than 5PM EST Friday, September 6.   VQiPS Leadership Team and select VTAG members, please plan on arriving to Houston on Monday, September 30 and leaving Friday, October 4.  For all other attendees, please plan on getting to Houston on Tuesday, October 1, and leaving Friday, October 4.  More details including speaking opportunities and the meeting agenda will follow so please be on the lookout.  If you have questions, please e-mail

Australian Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement – Spectrum for Public Safety Mobile Broadband Report:   Just released, the report, not binding on the government, recommends, in part, that:  Recommendation 1:   5.39 The committee recommends that the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy issue a Ministerial Direction to the Australian Communications and Media Authority to allocate 20 MHz of contiguous spectrum in the 700 MHz band for the purposes of a public safety mobile broadband network.

The following links provided courtesy, Charley Bryson, NPSTC Outreach.

FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for August Open Meeting.  News Release. News Media Contact: Justin Cole at (202) 418-8191,  OCMC

The DHS Office of Emergency Communications’ Official eNewsletter – the Emergency Communications Forum (ECF) Volume 11 includes nn update on activities to support stakeholders in planning for broadband and the development of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network; a new Technical Assistance offering to support dispatchers; information about the FY2013 SAFECOM Guidance on Emergency Communications Grants; and upcoming public safety conferences.   For more information, please visit the DHS Office of Emergency Communications website at – keyword ‘OEC’ or email

San Luis Obispo County in California inaugurates new IP-based interoperable communications system.

CTIA Asks FCC to Defer on Network Reliability Reporting

Support provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, Office for Interoperability and Compatibility, and the National Program and Protection Directorate, Office of Emergency Communications.   Points of view expressed or opinion expressed are those of the originators and do not necessarily represent official positions or policies of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

NPSTC Files Reply Comments Supporting Intelligent Vehicle Apps in the 5 GHz Band

On July 24, NPSTC filed Reply Comments supporting Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) devices in the 5 GHz band, including in the 5.9 GHz spectrum currently allocated for intelligent vehicle and highway applications.   In these comments, NPSTC joins the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) in recommending additional testing in the 5.9 GHz band of the potential for interference from proposed U-NII devices to intelligent vehicle and highway operations.  See Regulatory Actions at

NTIA Awards $13.1 Million in Grants to Five States to Assist in FirstNet Planning

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced it has awarded the first $13.1 million in grants under the State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP). The awards are going to Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York and Ohio, and will support state planning, consultation and outreach activities of these states as they prepare for the launch of the first nationwide public safety broadband network.

NPSTC’s BBWG Publishes Push-to-Talk Requirements for Broadband

The principal purpose of this document is to define, from the perspective of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC), broadband public safety PTT requirements for consideration by FirstNet as it embarks on its mission to deploy the nation’s first Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) and the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), along with other international standards bodies.

Public safety grade PTT voice remains the most critical means of communications for first responders in emergency situations and cannot be compromised.  Although the focus of this document is public safety grade PTT voice communications, it is not intended to exclude other forms of voice communications currently routinely used by many public safety agencies such as public switched telephone network (PSTN) voice, and commercial grade PTT voice, from the network.

The BBWG believes Long Term Evolution (LTE) public safety grade voice PTT communications requirements are universal, and these requirements should be adopted globally.  These requirements stem from a collaboration of users, and the implementation of Best Practices within the mission critical public safety community. This document defines those requirements.