FCC Order Would Require Carriers, OTT Providers to Deploy Text-to-911, Courtesy TRDaily

A draft second report and order circulated today for the FCC’s Aug. 8 meeting would require all wireless carriers and interconnected, over-the-top (OTT) texting providers by year-end to be capable of deploying text-to-911 services, an FCC official told TRDaily. Providers would have to provide text-to-911 offerings within six months of a valid public safety answering point (PSAP) request.

The order, included on the Aug. 8 tentative meeting agenda released today, follows up on a policy statement and second further notice of proposed rulemaking adopted in January (TRDaily, Jan. 30) in PS dockets 11-153 and 10-255. The statement and second further notice sought to press smaller wireless carriers and interconnected OTT texting providers to become capable of deploying text-to-911 services by the end of this year.

In an agreement between public safety groups and the four national wireless carriers, those providers met a May 15 deadline for being capable of deploying text-to-911 services to PSAPs. The draft order would codify that accord.

In a companion third further notice of proposed rulemaking also circulated today, the FCC also plans to solicit comments “on potential improvements to current text-to-911 technology, such as through better location information,” according to the tentative agenda.

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NPSTC Governing Board Member Highlights Importance of NPSTC Work When Fire Hits Home

NPSTC Governing Board Member Highlights Importance of NPSTC Work When Fire Hits Home

By John McIntosh, Forestry Conservation Communications Association (FCCA)

“NPSTC has been spot on focusing on the absolute need for hardening of radio sites, communications infrastructure and making sure that these systems are redundant and properly maintained.”

It was deeply moving to hear of the tragedy befalling Debbie Replogle of the NPSTC staff and her home in the Methow Valley, Okanogan County, Washington. It is one of many stories I have heard from friends and acquaintances here in Washington State as this fire event grips public attention and commands significant resources to attempt to control it. My wife and I just drove through this area two weeks ago and marveled at the scenery.

Having been an officer with the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Police (WDFW), I have worked in both Okanogan and Chelan Counties many times, now the venues of catastrophic wildland fires. It is one of the most scenic areas of Washington State and supports a large tourism and agricultural industries; both of which are severely impacted by these events. But is unfortunately also prone to catastrophic wildland fires.

From an operational and public safety perspective, WDFW Police staff in both counties have been mobilized to man road blocks and form strike teams to evacuate residents. There are many seasonal residents in the area who have never realized the risk of wildland fire.

The entire area operates on VHF high band with many repeater sites in the affected area. The power is out and I understand that many sites are on battery backup or generator power due to the wooden power line poles burning out. I spoke to the WDFW Regional Director for the area and he was mentioning that the WDFW Methow River Fish Hatchery was in danger of burning down but had been saved because of the fish planting tanker trucks were used in fire service. The hatchery is operating on backup power. I mention this to illustrate the scope of the disaster. Continue reading

Important Legislation for Hams: Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2014

This Act will ensure that every ham in the US, regardless of the community they live in, will have the opportunity to practice their avocation from their own homes without breaking any rules or fear of reprisal.

In June, 2014 with Congressman Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) as the sponsor and Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2) as co-sponsor, HR 4969 – the “Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2014” – was introduced into the 113th Congress.  This bipartisan effort would direct the FCC to extend the “reasonable accommodation” provisions for Amateur Radio antennas to include all types of land-use regulation, including deed restrictions and restrictive covenants.  For more information, visit  http://www.arrl.org/hr-4969

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FCC Promises to Hold 911 Providers Accountable for Outages, Courtesy TRDaily

Telecom carriers that provide 911 services will be held fully accountable for issues that occur on their networks regardless of whether the issue is caused by a third party, David Simpson, chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau¸ said today during an address to attendees of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ summer meeting.

Both the FCC Bureau and the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission are currently investigating a multi-state 911 outage that occurred in April.  Technical problems in an Intrado facility in Colorado prevented more than 4,400 911 calls from being forwarded to public safety answering points (PSAPs) in Washington, Minnesota, and North Carolina.  Several other states including California were affected by the outage.  CenturyLink, Inc., and its vendor Intrado, Inc., told the FCC and the UTC that they have taken steps to avoid another major 911 outage. Continue reading

Mission Critical Magazine: P25 Programming Demos and Updates Announced

From Mission Critical Magazine, http://mccmag.com/onlyonline.cfm?OnlyOnlineID=470

The Radio Programming Compatibility Requirements (Radio PCR) working group, responsible for the creation of the Programming and Management (PAM) tool for Project 25 (P25) software radio programming, made several announcements on a July 8 conference call. The call addressed updates to the spreadsheet, increasing accessibility, changes in the work group dynamics and requests for new members to join, as well as the announcement that the group was awarded the DJ Atkinson Technical Award.

“Our internal work group has been busy working on the spreadsheet itself and trying to make updates,” said Pam Montanari, the group’s co-chair. “We’ve added a few things that should be helpful.”

Midland Radio’s information was added to the spreadsheet, and the National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG) information was added.


Submitted by Bill Browning, Towing: They Lose More Personnel than All of Us

The Responder, July 2014, Message from the TIM Network Liaison

As this issue features a WreckMaster article about the towing industry, I thought it was timely to talk about the losses that the towing industry incurs each week. Historically, the towing industry loses more personnel to highway incidents than any of the other responder disciplines. We have to work together to stop these deaths. Even one responder death is too many, and the towing industry loses more than one tower each week on our highways.

The towing industry plays a huge, invaluable role in Traffic Incident Management (TIM). We can work toward reducing the time to clear incidents all we want, but if we don’t include towing in every aspect of the process, then our work will not be successful. The towing industry has the specialty equipment that the others do not. And, they are highly skilled in the use of this equipment. Experienced, professional towing personnel will reduce the time that we all are exposed to traffic. Continue reading

PS Narrowband Voice Systems Can’t Be Abandoned, by Harlin McEwen

Courtesy of Mission Critical Communications – Radio Resource Group, July 8, 2014, http://www.rrmediagroup.com/onlyonline.cfm?OnlyOnlineID=469

Public Safety Narrowband Voice Systems Can’t Be Abandoned, by Chief Harlin McEwen

I have consistently sounded the alarm for public-safety agencies to not abandon their LMR narrowband mission-critical voice systems. Having been a law enforcement and public-safety practitioner and executive for more than 50 years, I know firsthand the criticality of voice communications for police, fire and EMS personnel.

In 2013, I was one of the principal authors of a paper issued by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) titled, “Why Can’t Public Safety Just Use Cell Phones and Smart Phones for Their Mission Critical Voice Communications?” and “Why Can’t Public Safety Just Use the Planned Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network for Their Mission Critical Voice Communications?”

The NPSTC paper, available on the NPSTC website, was written primarily as an educational document for local, tribal, state and federal officials to explain the difference between cell phones and LMR. The public and many public officials don’t understand the difference because they have never used a push-to-talk (PTT) radio that can communicate instantly to many people without dialing a telephone number. However, when pressed to consider the issues, they will all admit that their cell phones or smartphones don’t always work.

As explained in the NPSTC paper, public-safety officials have unique and demanding communications requirements. If you have never been a public-safety official, it is difficult to understand those differences. Continue reading

Test Your GPS Receivers at White Sand Missile Range in March 2015

The 746th Test Squadron (96th Test Group) is planning its next White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) NAVFEST event in March 2015.  Specific dates will be announced in the near future.   WSMR NAVFEST 2015 will be conducted at the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), New Mexico.

The overarching objective of WSMR NAVFEST 2015 is to provide a low cost opportunity for users to operate their own air platforms, test their own Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, collect their own data and train their own personnel in a GPS – Navigation Warfare (NAVWAR) environment.  Conventional threat (CT) and Emerging Threat (ET) effects will be produced using the 746 TS ground-based Portable Box Jammers (PBJs) and new High Power Jammers (HPJs).  Airborne jamming assets are planned to be used during WSMR NAVFEST.

The cost to participate will depend on how many customers / platforms commit to attending.  No hard commitment is required at this time.  Please reply by 30 Jul 2014 with your level of interest stated as: Probable, Possible, or Not Interested.  Feel free to forward this announcement to other potential participants.  If you do forward this announcement, please Cc: Lt Sung Yi, James Manns, and Lt William Warren so we can track all potential current or future NAVFEST customers.

Radio Club of America Announces 2014 Membership Drive

Special Discount Available for New Members During the ARRL Centennial Celebration

The Radio Club of America (RCA) will attend the ARRL Centennial celebration in Hartford, CT July 17th to 19th. RCA is the oldest wireless club in the world having started in 1909. Rich in history, many of RCA’s members were inventors and innovators in many facets of wireless technology. RCA preserves wireless history, while promoting an encouraging the future.

“We are excited to be a part of the ARRL Centennial celebration and we will offer a new member discount during the show. We hope to attract new members to RCA”, said Tim Duffy, K3LR, RCA’s vice president.  “We are encouraging Centennial attendees to come and talk to RCA members and find out how they can get involved in one of the most prestigious radio-related organizations in the world,”  Duffy said.

Look for the Radio Club of America in booth 672 during the ARRL Centennial celebration  July 17-19, in Hartford, CT. 

About the Radio Club of America: The Radio Club is the oldest, most prestigious assembly of radio communications professionals in the world with members in many countries.   Its members are dedicated to the wireless art and science for the betterment of public safety, broadcasting, cellular and the uniting of people through innovation and technical advancement. The Radio Club of America is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and all contributions made to the Radio Club are tax exempt.  Visit www.radioclubofamerica.org for more information or call the RCA office at 973-283-0626 or email pat@radioclubofamerica.org.

About the American Radio Relay League:  Founded in 1914 by Hiram Percy Maxim, ARRL (American Radio Relay League) is the national association for Amateur Radio in the US. Today, with more than 161,000 members, ARRL is the largest organization of radio amateurs in the world. ARRL’s mission is based on five pillars: Public Service, Advocacy, Education, Technology, and Membership.  Please visit http://www.arrl.org for more information.

Low Band Radio Interference. From Private Wireless Forum, Posted by Bill Brownlow

NY DOT reports they have been experiencing severe interference issues with their low band radios and have found the culprit  to be high efficiency fluorescent ballasts. They have narrowed it down to the ballasts that are commercial grade and that operate at multiple voltages (120-277V). The ballasts that had that operated strictly on 120V did not cause issues. They believe it comes from the switching power supply that allows for multi-voltage use and they have tested ballasts that are single voltage (120V) and they do not cause harmful interference.

NTDOT has contacted a few manufacturers (Sylvania, Philips, GE) and they have stated that they have heard of very few interference issues and they are trying to consolidate product and stop manufacturing single voltage ballasts. The noise can be as high as -80 dbm from 30-80Mhz. The manufacturers state that these ballasts meet FCC Part 18 rules (Industrial and commercial). NYDOT would like the other low band users out there to be aware of this.