Simpson Emphasizes PSAP Cybersecurity

David Simpson, chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, is urging public safety answering points (PSAPs) today to take steps to address cyber vulnerabilities.

“America’s 911 call centers handle thousands of emergency calls each day, often involving life-or-death situations where every second counts. Now imagine how disruptive it would be for a 911 call center (known as a Public Safety Answering Point, or PSAP) to deal with a cyberattack on its information systems while performing its lifesaving mission,” Mr. Simpson said in a blog posting. “Unfortunately, this is a very real threat facing PSAPs today – and one that will grow over time. For example, the press has reported on several local law enforcement agencies that were locked out of their computer networks by hackers who demanded ransom to restore access.  The good news, however, is that there are resources available and steps that PSAPs of all sizes can take to protect themselves.”

Courtesy TRDaily


FTC Upgrades Identity Theft Reporting Website

The Federal Trade Commission said it has finished work on upgrades to the identity theft reporting website – – that the agency launched last year, including features that are aimed at helping consumers recover more quickly from identity theft.  FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said those improvements include features that lead consumers through a list of questions about the circumstances of their identity theft, and produce a customized plan for them to deal with the theft, along with form letters and affidavits that they can use to notify credit reporting bureaus, the Internal Revenue service, police, and debt collectors. Continue reading

FCC Adopts NPRM Proposing to Strengthen Emergency Alert System

The FCC adopted an Emergency Alert System notice of proposed rulemaking today that the agency said is “intended to improve EAS by facilitating involvement on the state and local levels, supporting greater testing and awareness of the system, leveraging technological advances, and enhancing EAS security.” The item, which was adopted in PS dockets 15-91 and 15-94 at the agency’s monthly meeting, seeks views in part on recommendations made by the FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council concerning state plans and security (TRDaily, March 20, 2014).

The NPRM drew a partial dissent from Commissioner Mike O’Rielly.

During a presentation at today’s meeting, Greg Cooke, associate chief of the Policy and Licensing Division in the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, noted that state EAS plans are currently filed with the Commission on paper. The NPRM proposes that state plans be filed online and using a template. Continue reading

NASCIO Joins a Nationwide Global Effort to Support Data Privacy Day by Signing On as a Champion

Hundreds of Organizations Collaborate to Generate Awareness about the Importance of Respecting Privacy, Safeguarding Data and Enabling Trust

LEXINGTON, Ky., Thursday, January 28, 2016 — Today the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) announced that it is a committed Champion of Data Privacy Day (DPD) ‒ an international effort held annually on January 28 to create awareness about the importance of privacy and protecting personal information. As a DPD Champion, NASCIO recognizes and supports the principle that organizations, businesses and government all share the responsibility of being conscientious stewards of personal information by respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust. Continue reading

Applications Regarding “Wideband-Only” Licenses for Facilities Operating Without Waiver Will Be Dismissed

On January 13, 2016 the FCC released DA 16-36 providing further guidance on narrowbanding below 470 MHz. Since the Commission’s narrowbanding requirement went into effect on January 1, 2013, all VHF/UHF Industrial/Business and Public Safety Radio Pool licensees in the 150-174 MHz and 421-470 MHz bands are required to operate on channels with a maximum bandwidth of 12.5 kHz or equivalent efficiency, unless they are operating under the terms of a waiver. Accordingly, wideband only operation absent a waiver is no longer permitted. The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (the Bureaus) have taken various steps to assure that licensees are aware of and comply with the narrowbanding requirement, and update their license information to reflect narrowband operation.

Will the Bureaus take any other action to encourage licensees to update their license information to reflect narrowband operation and otherwise comply with the narrowbanding requirement? The Bureaus intend in the near future to notify by email to all PLMR licensees in the 150-174 MHz and 421-470 MHz bands with wideband emission designators who have provided an email address in the Universal Licensing System, to urge them to update their license information to reflect compliance with the narrowbanding requirement.

What are the potential enforcement consequences of unauthorized wideband operation or falsely claiming narrowband status while continuing wideband operation? Licensees operating in wideband mode after January 1, 2013 that have not received a waiver from the Commission extending the deadline are in violation of the Commission’s rules. Licensees who operate in violation of the Commission’s rules or the terms of the licensee’s license, or who cause harmful interference to another licensee, may be subject to appropriate enforcement action. Such enforcement action may include admonishments, license revocation, and/or monetary forfeitures of up to $16,000 for each such violation or each day of a continuing violation, and up to $112,500 for any single act or failure to act.


Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, January 29, 2016

Let’s start this week with the upcoming (Feb 2, 2016) U.S. House of Representatives, Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology sub-committee hearing to update committee members on FirstNet’s progress and a status report on the Department of Interior’s RFP on behalf of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) which was issued on January 14 (FirstNet Partner RFP). This should be a fairly standard House hearing in that the reports are all pre-scripted, and there will probably not be many questions asked. The result should be a clean bill of health for FirstNet because of the progress it has made.

However, rumor has it that several unidentified network operators have complained to committee members that because FirstNet will lease its excess spectrum it could end up competing with existing network operators. My answer to that is if this is a concern, step up and submit a proposal. The industry loves rumors and bits of information dangled out there for anyone to consume and take to the next level. This is certainly the case when it comes to speculation as to which companies will respond to the RFP.

We know AT&T probably will because it has publically said so. Many in the investment community seem to believe Verizon is already the chosen one because its spectrum is adjacent to FirstNet’s. But within Verizon itself and others on the outside maintain they are not interested in FirstNet as a partner. Rivada has written an op-ed saying we should not preclude non-network operators from stepping up and submitting an RFP, and rumors continue to swirl that companies such as Northrup-Grumman are putting together a response based on a number of partners. Then there are the wild guesses about a foreign network operator or foreign large company swooping in to build the network and establish its presence in the U. S. market. Sprint says it will not respond, and the only peeps out of T-Mobile have been some quotes in a news article about the RFP being problematic.

FirstNet is accepting written questions between now and February 12, 2016. We were told that if we asked questions as we went along they would be answered in a sequential manner, but so far I have not seen any responses to any of the questions already asked. Then there is the pre-proposal industry day in early March (half-day in reality). Anyone who thinks reviewing the questions and/or attending the industry day will shed light on more of those interested in bidding are probably mistaken since I believe most interested entities are busy working behind the scenes rather than in the public eye. It will be interesting to see how FirstNet handles the Capability Statements that are also due in March. If they become public (I don’t believe they should), we should have a better idea of who is interested in the RFP, but that does not mean they will actually submit a final RFP response. So Congress is busy looking for an update, FirstNet is busy with continued outreach and hopefully responding to RFP questions, and an unknown number of companies and consortiums of companies are busy trying to figure out if this is a true opportunity or a sinkhole for $billions of dollars with an extended time period until there is a Return on Investment (ROI). Still, I am encouraged at all the buzz around the RFP and hope it will translate into multiple qualified bids. I don’t think the Public Safety community will be best served if only one bidder shows up and FirstNet has no choices. Time will tell, meanwhile I will continue to watch and monitor the buzz. Have a great weekend! Andy

Want to keep track of FirstNet’s progress? Here are some key dates, milestones to rememberUrgent Communications via Google Alerts Jan 28 14:15 … build and operate a nationwide public-safety broadband network during the … Continue reading


Beginning this month, SAFECOM will be transitioning the SAFECOM-NCSWIC Quarterly Newsletter to an online platform.

“The new SAFECOM-NCSWIC Blog will serve as a great tool for information sharing and dissemination.  On the blog, we’ll continue to highlight current events, activities, accomplishments, updates, opinion pieces, and innovative ideas from the SAFECOM and NCSWIC community.   Starting today, we are soliciting content for the SAFECOM-NCSWIC Blog. If you have relevant public safety communications information you would like to highlight or share with the public safety stakeholder community, please email the SAFECOM Inbox or NCSWIC Inbox with ideas or posts by February 5, 2016.”

Who can submit a blog post? Anyone within the SAFECOM and NCSWIC communities.

What is the SAFECOM-NCSWIC Blog? The SAFECOM-NCSWIC Blog serves as an online platform for OEC stakeholders to share timely information about public safety emergency communications. OEC invites the public safety stakeholder community to submit articles that provide information on current events, activities, accomplishments, and/or specific subject matter in 300-1,000 words.

When should I submit a blog post? Blog posts can be submitted at any time. We will be publishing blog posts each month. At the end of each quarter, all articles will be compiled and distributed in an abbreviated newsletter.

Where is the SAFECOM-NCSWIC Blog located on the web?

Why should you consider submitting a blog post? The blog provides an excellent platform for information sharing and learning about issues and events related to emergency communications impacting the public service community in a timely manner.


APCO Says Carriers Should Educate Parties on Reduced Access to 911

The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International said that wireless carriers, not public safety answering points (PSAPs), should be responsible for leading outreach efforts to educate consumers about reduced access to 911 networks from non-service-initialized (NSI) mobile phones with the retirement of older systems.

“APCO pointed out that reduced NSI access to 9-1-1 resulting from technology retirements will only worsen as carriers shut down 2G, and then 3G networks,” the group said in an ex parte filing in PS docket 08-51 reporting on a meeting with officials from the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. “APCO stressed that in order to address this situation, it should be the wireless industry, not PSAPs, that leads efforts to educate affected consumers. The carriers should be responsible for managing expectations related to their networks, and their responsibility includes educating all affected parties, not just their remaining subscribers. Additionally, both nationwide and regional carriers are in a much better position than PSAPs to conduct outreach given their relatively larger resources, economies of scale, and routine marketing of new or upgraded services and devices to the general public.”

APCO’s filing was submitted in response to a filing by CTIA in November (TRDaily, Nov. 25, 2015). In that filing, CTIA said, “As educational efforts about any modifications to the ‘all calls’ rule may confuse or unnecessarily alarm the general public, CTIA continues to believe that efforts to reach those consumers should be led by PSAPs and the state and local governments that support them.” Continue reading

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, January 22, 2016

When FirstNet released the final RFP it allowed for questions to be asked until February 12, 2016. This is a great opportunity for prospective bidders and their partners to gain a level of clarification. However, to submit a question you must use a FirstNet form that does provide a method for asking the question, but does not allow for putting the question into context. In some cases the context is as important as the question. While a question may seem arbitrary or unwarranted, if it is preceded by a statement containing pertinent information there can be a better understanding of the rationale for asking it, thus a more appropriate answer can be forthcoming.

My example is the requirement within the RFP that the successful bidder (partner) have 50% of the Public Safety device connection target by 24 months after the contract award and 100% by 48 months after or face large monetary penalties. I presume these requirements are in the RFP to preclude a partner from building the network and then not trying in earnest to get the first responder community to use it, so the partner has more access to the spectrum. In this case, both the timeline for these requirements and the percentages are not, in my estimation, achievable by any company, even the four largest wireless network operators. Apparently the vendor is supposed to provide the target numbers, but FirstNet says there are “between 3 and 12 million first responders.” Is this target then tied to 50% of 3 million or 50% of 12 million (a very high and questionable number). I have to ask whether this 12 million is sworn personnel only or if it includes all of the civilians.

The RFP’s definition of a Public Safety user is a “User of the NPSBN that provides public safety services.” Next, I believe network usage will expand from the top down in organizations. That is, the initial FirstNet customers will be chiefs and line officers who will try out the network for command and control and see how it works and whether it provides the same level (or better) coverage they currently experience with one of the commercial networks. Over time, as the network matures and more devices that are designed for field use come on the market, network usage might spread to an entire department. My biggest concern is that network operators with networks in place and already serving the Public Safety community will compete with FirstNet if they are not the successful bidder.”

The biggest issue here is that according to the law, there is no requirement that a Public Safety agency make use of FirstNet. Network operators can move their pricing anywhere they want. Public Safety is a small but prestigious portion of their total user population and two of the networks already offer a form of priority access to the first responder community. Even though it does not include full, ruthless pre-emption, it is better than it was before. If one of the network operators becomes the FirstNet partner the other three will, of course, do what they can to keep their own installed base of Public Safety users.

My final points have to do with how much of the network can be in place by month 24 of the contract. This is not clear as it will depend on the chosen partner and could vary widely. The vendor (partner) must have devices available and establish a sales and marketing program that will provide easy access to the network and the devices. Further, it will to take time to train people in how to deal with the Public Safety community, cities, counties, and states, and some of the buying cycles could be extended because of having to wait for the following year’s budget for funds. I would rate the likelihood of ANY potential vendor/partner being able to meet the percentage of use in the time periods allocated as slim to none. That means as part of the RFP decision the bidder will have to accept the fact that they will be penalized a lot of money, or it means FirstNet will have to make changes to sections that address this issue.

Either way, as you can see, the context of the question asked is as important as the question itself, because it could include items FirstNet may not have thought through completely. FirstNet’s stated goal with the RFP is to attract a number of qualified bids from potential partners, and it has done a pretty good job of changing the RFP to reflect that interest. Even so, there are still areas of the documents such as this that could push the fence sitters over the other side into the no response column. Have a Great Weekend! Andy Continue reading