Commisson Grants Railroad Waiver

The Mobility Division of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau today granted a waiver to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) to allow railroads to use signal boosters with an effective radiated power (ERP) of 30 watts to maintain communications between the front and rear of trains. The order adopted in WT docket 14-98 excludes the channels at the edge of the railroad frequencies to address concerns about the potential for interference to non-railroad channels. As a result, the waiver applies to frequencies from 452/457.90625 megahertz to 452/457.9625 MHz. Also, railroads operating under the waiver can only use single-channel Class A boosters, the order said.

Courtesy TRDaily

FirstNet’s Proposed “Public Safety Entity”, “Rural” Definitions Draw Concerns

First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) proposals for defining “public safety entities” and “rural” are coming under fire from some stakeholders, including the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International and some states.

Regarding the definition of public safety entities, critics said FirstNet should adopt a narrow definition that includes only traditional first responders.  As for the definition of rural, some states said they were concerned that it was too narrow and might leave out areas from FirstNet coverage; some also said they were worried about separately defining “wilderness” and “frontier.”  However, others, including utilities, states and localities, and industry entities, said they supported the definitions of public safety entities and rural proposed by FirstNet.

Some entities also said that states should play a role in determining who can use the network and how to define rural.  Comments were filed by yesterday’s deadline in response to a public notice released in September (TRDaily, Sept. 17) seeking comments on preliminary interpretations and other issues regarding FirstNet’s authority under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which created FirstNet.  Yesterday was also the deadline for responses to a FirstNet comprehensive network solution request for information (RFI) soliciting views on a wide range of matters ahead of a draft request for proposal (RFP) scheduled for release by March 2015. Continue reading

NPSTC Files Comments with FirstNet on Definitions of “Public Safety User” and “Rural”

On October 27, 2014, NPSTC provided its recommendations to FirstNet regarding elements of the network, the various categories of users, and the interpretation of rural areas. “NPSTC generally concurs with many of the interpretations offered by FirstNet on other sections of the Notice on which we do not comment. Also, NPSTC recommends that FirstNet draw on the expertise of the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) as it develops user definitions and work to ensure that its final decisions are consistent with the PSAC’s recommendations. The PSAC represents a wide range of public safety and government organizations and is working to develop comprehensive eligible user definitions based on generally accepted practices of the public safety community.”

“NPSTC takes the view that these definitional issues first and foremost must be addressed in the context of what will make the NPSBN more useful and helpful to public safety agencies in protecting life and property. Therefore, NPSTC urges FirstNet to pay close attention to the work and recommendations of the PSAC. Also, NPSTC believes actual use of the network once it is deployed will reveal opportunities and situations that cannot all be thought of in advance when developing legal definitions. Therefore, NPSTC urges FirstNet to leave room for some flexibility in any legal definitions so that future needs can be accommodated once actual deployment and use of the network is underway.”


Simpson: FCC Staff Working on 9-1-1 Indoor Location Accuracy Options

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau is “working expeditiously to pull together options” for Commissioners to consider in its indoor 911 location accuracy proceeding, David Simpson, the bureau’s chief, said today. However, he could not say when action by the Commission was likely.

During a luncheon sponsored by the Federal Communications Bar Association’s homeland security and emergency communications subcommittee, Mr. Simpson stressed the importance of Americans being able to be located indoors just as they can be outdoors. “We’ve got to take steps to close that gap,” he said. Continue reading

FCC Announces Delay of Incentive Auction to Early 2016

The FCC announced that it plans to delay its incentive auction until early 2016, from the previous date of mid-2015, citing legal challenges to the incentive auction order it adopted in May (TRDaily, May 15).   “As Chairman [Tom] Wheeler indicated several weeks ago, the court challenges to the auction rules by some broadcasters have introduced uncertainty.  Earlier this week, the court issued a briefing schedule in which the final briefs are not due until late January 2015.  Oral arguments will follow at a later date yet to be determined, with a decision not likely until mid-2015,” Gary Epstein, chair of the Incentive Auction Task Force, said in a blog posting this afternoon.

“We are confident we will prevail in court, but given the reality of that schedule, the complexity of designing and implementing the auction, and the need for all auction participants to have certainty well in advance of the auction, we now anticipate accepting applications for the auction in the fall of 2015 and starting the auction in early 2016,” Mr. Epstein added. “Despite this brief delay, we remain focused on the path to successfully implementing the incentive auction.” Continue reading

FCC Eliminates 700 MHz Band Narrowbanding Deadline

On October 27, 2014, the FCC late this afternoon released a report and order that eliminates a Dec. 31, 2016, deadline for public safety licensees to convert their 700 megahertz band narrowband spectrum to 6.25 kilohertz technology.  The order in PS dockets13-87 and 06-229 and WT docket 96-86 also reallocates the 700 MHz band reserve channels to general use with priority access going to relocated T-band licensees, and it  designates secondary trunking channels for air-to-ground (ATG) communications.

Among other things, the item also addresses several issues related to Project 25 public safety voice systems, declines to establish a nationwide interoperability travel channel, permits on a secondary basis voice operations on data interoperability channels, and declines to increase the 2 watt ERP (effective radiated power) for radios that operate on the mobile-only low-power channels. Continue reading

Washington Post on Unanswered 911 Calls

Whoever thinks that their call to 911 would go unanswered? But in a terrifying incident this spring, thousands of Americans found themselves in need of help — and got none.   For six hours, emergency services went dark for more than 11 million people across seven states. The entire state of Washington found itself disconnected from 911. The outage may have gone unnoticed by some, but for the more than 6,000 people trying to reach help, April 9 may well have been the scariest time of their lives.

Now a study from the Federal Communications Commission offers the most in-depth explanation of the outage and why it occurred. In a 40-page report, the FCC found that an entirely preventable software error was responsible for causing 911 service to drop. The incident affected 81 call dispatch centers, rendering emergency services inoperable in all of Washington and parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, California, Minnesota and Florida.



Griffin Appointed Under Secretary of DHS S&T

Dr. Robert Griffin was appointed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) deputy under secretary. With more than 20 years of experience in local government and first responder communities, Griffin has been serving as acting deputy under secretary since May, and was officially appointed as deputy under secretary on Oct. 5. Prior to this appointment, Griffin served as the director of S&T’s First Responders Group and led efforts to strengthen the first response community’s ability to protect the homeland and respond to disasters.  Courtesy Mission Critical Magazine.


Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate October 24, 2014

The Police Chiefs Convention (IACP) starts tomorrow in Orlando, I will be attending for a few days and hope to see many of you on the show floor or in some of the sessions. My most recent article in Urgent Communications “Partnerships are More than Contracts for FirstNet” did not make it into the news recap yet but you can find it here: Likewise my recent commentary on the demise of WiAMX and wireless feeding frenzies can be found here:  Continue reading

FCC Announces Agreement with Industry Canada for Cross-Border PS Comms

Washington D.C. – FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Industry Canada Senior Assistant Deputy Minister Kelly Gillis have signed an agreement allowing public safety officials who cross the U.S.-Canada border to use their hand-held radios in either country. The agreement – a Statement of Intent between the FCC and Industry Canada – expands roaming privileges originally granted to public safety officials in a 1952 Treaty.

The Statement of Intent allows public safety officials to operate hand-held radios in the other country whereas the 1952 Treaty only contemplated the cross-border operation of radios installed in public safety vehicles.

The Statement of Intent also eliminates the need for the host country to issue permits to public safety officials crossing the border provided the radios used by such officials are licensed in their country of origin.

The Statement of Intent is available on the International Bureau website at