FCC Daily Digest, March 6, 2015

On March 5, 2015, the FCC was closed due to inclement weather.

The FCC released a document dated March 4, 2015 which approves a spectrum lease and a waiver request for Amtrak.  The spectrum lease and waiver of several rules allow Amrak to use maritime spectrum in the 217-218 MHz and 219-220 MHz band to implement a Positive Train Control (PTC) system along its Northeast Corridor line from New York City to Washington, D.C., and on other rail lines from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and from New York City to Albany, New York.

The PTC system, required by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, should help Amtrak to reduce the risk of rail accidents caused by human error, including train-to-train collisions, derailments caused by excessive speed, and unauthorized train movements in work zones.  Use of the spectrum requested will also enable interoperability with the PTC systems of freight lines which operate in the nearby 220-222 MHz band.   The FCC decision may be accessed at:     https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-15-287A1.pdf

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate March 6, 2015

First up this week is the fact that the FirstNet Board of Directors will hold a special board meeting on Monday to discuss issuing a second public notice on key policy questions. See http://www.govtech.com/public-safety/Will-FirstNet-Become-the-Next-Healthcaregov.html for more details. Some of those following FirstNet and its progress may not fully understand the importance of this request for input but I think that it is a very important step in the FirstNet process.

The lead story this week is an article written by Bill Schrier who is the State of Washington Contact for FirstNet, and who was the CTO for the City of Seattle while we were in DC successfully convincing Congress to allocate what is now FirstNet spectrum for broadband. Bill was very active in these activities, has served as Chairman of the APCO Broadband committee and written a number of excellent articles. This one should be considered a “must read” by all of us who care about FirstNet and the Public Safety Broadband network. More FirstNet news is shown below as are a number of stories after the FCC passed two motions, one dealing with metro area wireless and the other the long awaited Net Neutrality rules. It appears as if the nation is divided on both of these and so we will have to wait and see what develops. Andy

Will FirstNet Become the Next Healthcare.gov?Government Technology via Google Alerts Mar  5 16:30 Another signature achievement of the Obama Administration the First Responder Network Authority appears headed down a path similar to the …

Community Broadband: The Other FCC RulingAtlanta Journal-Constitution Mar  5 11:30 Community Broadband: The Other FCC Ruling Continue reading

FirstNet to Approve Public Notice; Senate Committee Sets Hearing

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) board plans to hold a special meeting via teleconference March 9 from 10-11 a.m. to approve a new public notice that will seek comments on a broad range of issues such as the state plan process.  FirstNet spokesman Ryan Oremland said the notice, the second from FirstNet, includes preliminary interpretations of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which established FirstNet, regarding planning, deployment, and operation of the nationwide public safety broadband network. 

 “The Second Notice is a key next step in our efforts to consult stakeholders and get feedback on critical issues to ensure that we deploy a nationwide network for public safety that is interoperable and sustainable,” he said. “This PN addresses new ground and is separate from the first PN, which we intend to address in a future public notice or notices.” 

 FirstNet plans to release a public notice in the future exploring issues related the definition of public safety entity, which was an issue that drew many comments in a public notice issued by FirstNet last September (TRDaily, Sept. 17, 2014). That earlier public notice sought comment on preliminary interpretations and other issues regarding FirstNet’s authority under the Act.

 In other FirstNet news, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee today announced plans to hold a hearing March 11 on FirstNet. It is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. in room 253 of the Senate Russell Office Building.

 The scheduled witnesses are Deputy Commerce Secretary Bruce Andrews; Mark Goldstein, director-physical infrastructure at the Government Accountability Office;  FirstNet Chairwoman Sue Swenson; and Todd Zinser, inspector general of the Commerce Department.- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

 Courtesy TRDaily


FCC Seeks Comment on NPSTC/NRPC 700 MHz Recommendations

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau solicited comments on a recommendation by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) and the National Regional Planning Council (NRPC) on a set of six channels the agency should make available for 700 megahertz deployable trunked systems. Comments are due April 2 and replies April 17 in PS docket 13-87 and WT docket 02-378. The recommendation follows up on a 700 MHz band narrowband order released last October. Separately today, the bureau’s Policy and Licensing Division provided clarification at the request of the NRPC that new 700 MHz band air-to-ground channels are not subject to the trunking channel requirement that six or more channels must be used.


Will FirstNet Become the Next Healthcare.gov? Bill Schrier’s Chief Seattle Geek Blog

On October 1, 2013, the website healthcare.gov opened for business.   This website was the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA” commonly known as “Obamacare”).    ACA is one of the signature achievements of President Barack Obama.   Certainly the core of Obamacare would have the latest in innovative technology, interactivity and customer experience, right?

Healthcare.gov’s debut was a bomb.

But then healthcare.gov was resurrected.   Through an extraordinary effort the website was rapidly fixed and rebuilt by a top-notch team who were freed from most of the stultifying bureaucracy and regulations of the Federal Government.

Today another signature achievement of the Obama Administration – the First Responder Network Authority – appears headed down a path similar to the original healthcare.gov.   We can recognize the danger signs.   Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and other administration officials have the authority to free FirstNet from the shackles of “Fedgov” allowing it to innovatively accomplish its mission of creating a nationwide public safety wireless broadband network for our responders.

But will they act?

Read complete blog here: https://schrier.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/will-firstnet-become-the-next-healthcare-gov/

FCC Daily Digest March 3, 2015

March 3 was a busy day for public safety on the FCC Daily Digest.  The following items are of interest on today’s March, 3, 2015 FCC Daily Digest.

1)  FCC Places NPSTC/NRPC Recommendations re 700 Deployable Channels on Public Notice, comments are due April 2 and Replies are due April 17.   https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-15-278A1.pdf

2) FCC responded to a Petition for Clarification by the NRPC, agreeing with NRPC that Section 90.537(a) narrowband trunking requirements of the Commission’s rules does not apply to the air-ground channels.  The FCC indicated that nothing in its decision to designate channels for air to ground operations prevents the channels to be used in conventional manner rather than trunked.  https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-15-279A1.pdf

3) FCC issued a Public Notice indicating Region 30 NY-Albany Regional Planning Committees will hold a meeting re 800 MHz and 700 MHz on March 11.  https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-15-277A1.pdf

4) FCC issued a Public Notice indicating Region 6 Northern California Regional Planning Committees will hold a meeting re 800 MHz and 700 MHz on March 11.  https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-15-280A1.pdf

5) FCC issued a Public Notice noting the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (Bureau) announces that it is updating the Commission’s Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Text-to-911 Readiness and Certification Registry (Text-to-911 Registry) listing PSAPs that are ready to receive text-to-911 messages.  https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-15-276A1.pdf

NPSTC’s I/O Chair Responds to Mission Critical Article “P25: Not a One-Size-Fits-All Technology

John Lenihan, Battalion Chief Los Angeles County Fire Department, and NPSTC’s Interoperability Committee Chair writes: Mr. Schwartz begins his article “P25: Not a One-Size-Fits-All Technology” by taking an offended posture. An offense he assigns to “all public-safety communications managers.” As a firefighter who has been in operations since 1977, I think I’ve earned the right to have an opinion on this.

Mr. Schwartz starts by pointing out the problem of multiple radio bands being in use. I live that problem daily in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) and NXDN will not solve that without multiband subscriber units or patching. This may surprise Mr. Schwartz, but responders cannot rely on infrastructure. Patching is not always a solution in my area. Patching does not help responders who are split between in coverage and out of coverage. Read more of Chief’s Lenihan’s letter here:  http://mccmag.com/onlyonline.cfm?OnlyOnlineID=507


DHS to Ease Employment for Spouses of H-1B Visa Holders

The Department of Homeland Security today announced new rules, effective May 26, to extend eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of holders of nonimmigrant H-1B employment-based visas.  The change is among the executive actions on immigration unveiled by President Obama last fall (TRDaily, Nov. 20, 2014).  FWD.us and the Information Technology Industry Council issued separate statements applauding the action.

Courtesy TRDaily



FCC Updates Text-to-911 Registry

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau announced today that it is updating its Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Text-to-911 Readiness and Certification Registry to list PSAPs that are ready to receive text-to-911 messages. Wireless carriers and interconnected over-the-top texting providers have six months from a PSAP request to deploy text-to-911 services.


FirstNet Sets Times for March 24-25 Meetings

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) has scheduled times for its March 24-25 meetings. On March 24, the board’s four committees will meet sequentially from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the auditorium of the Commerce Department’s headquarters. On March 25, the full board plans to meet from 9 a.m.-noon in the auditorium.