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

Doug Aiken, Vice Chair and Founding Member of NPSTC Named as New Executive Director of IMSA

Rockledge, FL, January 20, 2016 Chief Douglas M. Aiken has been appointed as the Executive Director of the International Municipal Signal Association (IMSA).

“The Board is pleased to announce this appointment,” said IMSA Board of Directors President Hans Kristensen.  “In addition to his duties as IMSA Deputy Executive Director, Doug has served as Interim Executive Director on two occasions.  His leadership and vision have contributed greatly to the mission of IMSA and the support of our membership,” said Kristensen.  Chief Aiken has served as IMSA Deputy Executive Director since May 2011.  Prior to joining the IMSA staff he held elected offices as a member of IMSA including Chairman of the Board of Directors for three years.  Aiken is a 35-year veteran of the fire service and served in several public safety leadership positions at the national level.

Aiken’s experience and background will enable advancement of IMSA’s initiatives in certification and training as well as expanding its relationship with federal agencies and other public safety associations. He will work with international staff to continue to best serve the needs of our members. “I look forward to working with IMSA leadership and our members in support of IMSA’s mission,” said Aiken.

About IMSA

IMSA’s 12,000 members represent public safety agencies in all 50 states, all Canadian provinces and other countries.  Membership is divided into 23 geographic sections.  IMSA members serve on several standards making technical committees including those of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the National Council of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD).  IMSA is designated by the FCC as the public safety frequency coordinator for fire, EMS, and public safety pool frequencies including 800 MHz.

IMSA is the oldest known association of its kind in the world.  It dates back to October 1896, when a group of municipal signal men from several east coast cities met in Brooklyn, New York and organized the association then called the “International Association of Fire and Police Telegraph Superintendents.”  In 1900, the organization changed its name to “International Association of Municipal Electricians” (I.A.M.E.).  In September 1937, the organization name was officially changed to “International Municipal Signal Association” (IMSA).


Parties Should Not Wait to Submit FirstNet RFP Questions, Capability Statements

Parties with questions on the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) request for proposals (RFP) should not wait until the Feb. 12 deadline to submit them if they have them ready earlier, FirstNet said during a webinar on the RFP, which was released earlier this week (TRDaily, Jan. 13). They also should not wait to submit voluntary capability statements, which are due March 17, FirstNet said.

Submitting questions and capability statements early will give FirstNet more time to review them, webinar participants were told. During the webinar, which ran less than 30 minutes, officials quickly outlined what each document in the RFP addresses but did not go into details on them or take questions.

The RFP runs 511 pages, although 342 of those are in 26 attachments, including a 100-page report issued in 2012 by the FCC’s Technical Advisory Board for First Responder Interoperability (TRDaily, May 23, 2012).

The network would be deployed in five phases over five years. The term of the contract to oversee the network deployment and maintenance would be 25 years. Continue reading

Entities Raise Questions with NTIA’s FirstNet Fee Review Approach

Industry and public safety entities have raised questions about the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s proposal for annually reviewing fees that will be charged to access the nationwide public safety broadband network being overseen by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). A sticking point is NTIA’s suggestion that it won’t review fees for their reasonableness. Others sought clarification about certain issues or asked NTIA to allow further comments to be submitted to provide time for parties to review FirstNet’s request for proposals (RFP).

Comments were filed by yesterday’s deadline in docket no. 151209999-5999-01 in response to a notice of proposed rulemaking released last month proposing rules governing NTIA’s annual review of fees that will be charged to access the FirstNet network (TRDaily, Dec. 14, 2015). Continue reading

DHS’s Emergency Communications Forum (ECF) Newsletter Now Online

ECF Volume 18, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications’ (OEC) official eNewsletter, has just been released. DHS OEC ECF Volume 18.pdf includes an interview with Bob Schwent, Washington Statewide Interoperability Coordinator, about communications interoperability planning for the U.S. Open Golf Championship; an inside look at the continued importance of emergency communications planning; highlights from the 2015 Maryland Command and Communications Rally; and a recap of recent OEC engagements at the All-Hazards Incident Management Teams Association Training and Educational Symposium and a joint meeting between SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators.

These stories and more appear in this issue of the ECF. For questions or more information, please visit OEC’s website at www.DHS.gov (keyword ‘OEC’) or email us at OECOutreach1@hq.dhs.gov.