Mission Critical Magazine Reports, Drone Prototype Fixing Pipeline Leaks Wins International Competition

A prototype drone that can spot leaks and fix pipelines from the air won an international drone competition. The Imperial Buildrone team took first place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Drones for Good Award for its aerial robot that could “print” material to seal leaks in pipes. The Imperial team took first place out of more than 1,000 entries from across the globe. The Buildrone team, part of Imperial’s Aerial Robotics Lab, was supervised by Dr. Mirko Kovac and led by doctorate student Talib Alhinai who are both from the Department of Aeronautics at Imperial.

The UAE competition aimed to bring together the innovative technologies behind civilian drones and showcase how they can be turned into practical solutions for improving people’s daily lives.   Read more here:  http://www.radioresourcemag.com/News/NewsDetails/NewsID/13934



FirstNet to Post First Batch of RFP Answers

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) this week plans to post the first batch of answers to the more than 400 questions it got on the request for proposals (RFP) it released last month (TRDaily, Jan. 13), FirstNet spokeswoman April Ward said today. Questions on the RFP were due Feb. 12. “We’re very pleased with the questions that came in and the amount of interest shown,” she said. She said FirstNet would answer questions in batches as it did after it released its draft RFP last year (TRDaily, April 27, 2015). FirstNet also plans to  hold a pre-proposal conference on March 10 at 1:30 p.m. at its Reston, Va., headquarters.

Courtesy TRDaily


DHS Announces FY 2016 Grant Funding

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the release of fiscal year 2016 notices of funding opportunity for 10 grant programs that were appropriated more than $1.6 billion. The funding includes $402 million for the State Homeland Security Program and $580 million for Urban Area Security Initiative grants.

EWA Seeks Clarification on Coordination of Vehicular Repeater Channels

The Enterprise Wireless Alliance has asked the FCC to clarify that any qualified frequency coordinator should be allowed to process applications for entities to use six 173 megahertz channels for vehicular repeater systems (VRS). “It has been EWA’s expectation from the outset of this proceeding that all FCC-certified FACs would be authorized to process both VRS and data telemetry applications in accordance with the FCC’s rules and the consensus protocols, regardless of the applicants’ eligibility category,” EWA said in an ex parte filing in PS docket 13-229. “This view is premised on the fact that these six channels are not allocated on a primary basis to either B/ILT or public safety applicants, but are shared equally by them,” EWA added.

“While the consensus coordination protocols are designed to provide the necessary geographic separation between incompatible data telemetry and VRS operations, B/ILT and public safety data telemetry systems may operate on the same channel and B/ILT and public safety VRS operations may share a channel. The same operational rules regarding permissible bandwidths, power levels, justification for additional channels, and acceptable areas of operation for VRS govern B/ILT and public safety operations. The consensus protocols for these channels are applied identically, whether the applicant claims B/ILT or public safety eligibility.”

EWA added that it “appreciates that coordination of data telemetry and VRS applications on these six channels requires the highest level of technical expertise and professionalism. With all due respect to public safety FACs, EWA is confident that it and other B/ILT FACs have both the capability and expertise to process applications in conformance with the FCC’s rules and policies. As long as the technical criteria adopted by the Commission are followed and information is exchanged among FACs as it is for Sprint-vacated 800 MHz channels, B/ILT and public safety licensees will enjoy the appropriate level of system protection. For this reason, EWA recommends that the FCC clarify that the coordination rules for these six channels will mirror those applicable to Sprint-vacated spectrum; specifically, that all qualified FACs are permitted to process applications for any entity eligible to operate on these channels.” – Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Seybold Says Firm Will Pass on FirstNet RFP

Andy Seybold, wireless industry consultant and public safety advocate, says that a major company that he had a contract with and was considering submitting a proposal in response to the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) request for proposals (RFP) has decided not to bid. However, he told TRDaily that he can’t name the company because of a non-disclosure agreement. “As we continued to delve further into the RFP, we continued to submit questions, and all we wanted was a signal of some type from FirstNet that some of the issues we were concerned about were, perhaps, negotiable,” Mr. Seybold said in his weekly e-mailed commentary. Continue reading

FCC, Mexico Report Progress in Spectrum Meeting

The FCC and Mexican telecom authorities are reporting progress from a Feb. 4-5 spectrum coordination meeting between the two countries, including on 800 megahertz rebanding along the border. In a blog posting, Mindel De La Torre, chief of the FCC’s International Bureau, said the meeting, which was hosted by the FCC and included officials from the Mexican communications regulator, the Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFT), and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT), was productive. “The results of this meeting represent another significant milestone in the cooperation between the United States and Mexico on spectrum coordination issues,” she said. “We were able to advance spectrum policy goals related to the upcoming Incentive Auction, train safety, and emergency communications along our common border.”

Among the outcomes of the meeting, she said, were (1) “[r]eaffirmation of our shared commitment to follow agreed common guidelines for repacking TV stations that will clear 600 MHz spectrum for mobile broadband use in both countries,” (2) “[c]ommitment to complete work on an agreement that will facilitate implementation of Positive Train Control technology (PTC) in the border area,” (3) “[a]greement on a roadmap to facilitate rebanding the 800 MHz band along the common border to reduce interference to U.S. public safety licensees,” and (4) “[d]evelopment of work plans to address coordination in several other frequency bands, including the 400 MHz, 700 MHz, 2500-2686 MHz, 3.4 -3.7 GHz, 5.9 GHz, and the PCS and AWS bands.” Mexican authorities released a statement also hailing the progress made at the meeting, which they said also included discussions of mobile phone theft and roaming.- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com
Courtesy TRDaily

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, February 11, 2016

When I wrote my Public Safety Advocate last week documenting the issues with the FirstNet RFP, I did not realize that for the third time in the history of Public Safety broadband communications I was writing my own death knell. This time it was a contract I have had with a major company interested in bidding on the FirstNet RFP. Ten months ago I joined a team that has been growing ever since. There were Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), attorneys, financial folks, a cadre of well-respected and capable network engineers, and others who all had a place on the team. Our team worked long and hard on what we expected the RFP to look like, our vision of what Public Safety really needs, how our vision might not track 100% with the FirstNet RFP, what we were willing to contribute to building a world class Public Safety network, and making it easier for Public Safety to use the network to assist in their tasks.

Once the RFP was issued it was passed around to each of the sub-teams and we all dug deeply into the RFP and the requirements. Early indications from our numerous meetings provided a high level of optimism and approvals from the upper level executives along the way. Then we all made a much deeper dive into the RFP sections, and under the impression we could submit questions that would be answered promptly, we began to ask questions. Day after day I checked the sites, day after day there were no statements about the answer timetables, and we soon realized that our concerns would not be addressed in time for us to complete and file the Compatibility Statement due in March, much less in time to respond to an intelligent RFP. As we continued to delve further into the RFP, we continued to submit questions, and all we wanted was a signal of some type from FirstNet that some of the issues we were concerned about were, perhaps, negotiable.

Meanwhile, we discovered that no matter how many Public Safety users actually sign up for the network, and no matter how much the spectrum might be worth on a secondary basis, FirstNet wants yearly payments regardless of the uptake. It appeared to us that FirstNet is not interested in taking any of the risk of network uptake but rather wants all of that risk to be assumed by the RFP offeror. In some cases, if FirstNet does not believe the vendor is doing the best it could, FirstNet reserves the right to take over some of the vendor’s activities which, in reality, FirstNet should be responsible for in the first place. The results of our findings were reported up the chain of command and early this week the decision of the company senior executives, based on the continued lack of response from FirstNet indicating some willingness to make changes to the RFP, was exactly as you would expect. They are certainly not risk averse, but they do expect sufficient flexibility in the requirements so that both sides can agree on a win-win RFP response. However, at this point FirstNet has remained mute, which has been perceived as unwavering.

So once again I find myself in an interesting position. I have spent the past eight years of my life trying to make this network happen for Public Safety and I am now, once again, out on the street because the company top brass had to make a go/no-go decision with absolutely no additional information forthcoming from FirstNet. I guess I don’t blame them, they did not get to be a well-run company that makes a lot of money and a great return on investment for its stockholders by taking unnecessary risks. So this is one vendor that will not be responding to the RFP that is on the street. Frankly, I think this company would have provided the Public Safety community with much more than simply a broadband wireless pipe to use for its daily and incident-related needs. The team that was disbanded earlier this week was one of the best I have ever had the privilege of working with. It was the best of the best and each and every team member was dedicated to one thing: making sure the Public Safety community would have the best possible network and related services.

I have to wonder how many other teams are being disbanded. How many companies with high hopes for providing Public Safety with a great network have decided to throw in the towel and walk away from this opportunity? Yes, FirstNet may, in fact, receive a few responses to the RFP, but they won’t receive ones that really want to demonstrate their creativity and understanding of what the Public Safety community really needs. Instead, they may receive responses that promise to meet all of the conditions contained in the RFP but there will be exceptions taken and corners cut in order to provide a business model that will make a response viable for the bidder. This is not what the Public Safety community signed up for nor is it what the Public Safety community deserves. Andrew M Seybold

Mexico seeks bids for nationwide 700 MHz wholesale LTE network to serve competitive market …MyInforms via Google Alerts Feb 10 11:45 Add Mexico to the list of countries that soon could leverage LTE technology to meet the communication needs of its public-safety entities, although first … Continue reading

APCO Announces Broadband Project

The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International has announced the establishment of a project to help public safety answering points (PSAPs) and others prepare for broadband services.  “The PSAP of the future will be unlike anything we have ever experienced with new technologies sending information into and out of our PSAPs,” said APCO President Brent Lee. “APCO is launching a major effort to assist PSAPs around the country to address the opportunities and challenges presented by broadband-based technologies.”

Steven Proctor, executive director of the Utah Communications Authority, will lead the initiative. “Mr. Proctor will be supported by APCO members and staff through the efforts of a number of project work groups to sort through the internal impacts of broadband on PSAPs, including governance, cybersecurity, operations, technical, staffing, and training,” APCO said in a news release. “Project 43 will also be a forum to investigate solutions that maximize economies of scale, using consensus-based standards, best practices, and open system architectures.”

 “APCO is involved in a number of collaborative efforts with FirstNet, the Federal Communications Commission, Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security and Transportation, the public safety community, telecommunications industry and other stakeholders, but we are also uniquely positioned to care about what goes on in the PSAP and to shape policy and practice at this most essential element of emergency response,” said Mr. Proctor. – Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily






House Members Ask FCC, NTIA to Free Up 1675-1680 MHz Band

Seventeen members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have written FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and National Telecommunications and Information Administration head Lawrence E. Strickling urging them to make the 1675-1680 megahertz band available for commercial wireless services.

The letter noted that 2015 appropriations report language supported repurposing the 1675-1680 MHz band and that multiple Obama administration budgets have called for the repurposing the spectrum. The fiscal year 2017 budget released yesterday was the latest (TRDaily Feb. 9).

LightSquared, which has been renamed Ligado Networks LLC, wants the Commission to launch a proceeding to reallocate and auction the 1675-1680 MHz band (TRDaily, Jan. 4), which is used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The lawmakers in their letter noted that funding is available to relocate those radiosonde systems.

 Sending of the letter was led by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R., Ky.) and Doris Matsui (D., Calif.), co-chairs of the Congressional Spectrum Caucus. – Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily


AT&T Reiterates Auction Concerns, But CCA Study Says Repacking Feasible

AT&T, Inc., reiterated several concerns it has leading up to and following the FCC’s incentive auction, including the FCC’s 39-month repacking time line. But the Competitive Carriers Association submitted a study to the Commission that said that the transition period is feasible.  “We are less than 60 days from the start of the auction and forward auction bidders still have had no direct access to the new and complicated software package that will control this auction,” said Joan Marsh, vice president-federal regulatory for AT&T, in a blog posting.  “Practice rounds with the software are essential and while the FCC has made clear bidders will get practice rounds, it appears that we won’t get them until after the auction opens and the initial band plan is released, which likely means not until May.  That will give us little time to incorporate the learnings from the practice round before bidders are qualified and the official mock auction begins.  And it’s unclear what will happen if software glitches during the practice rounds raise questions about the path to the summit.”

Ms. Marsh noted that AT&T has “been vocal about our concerns around the post-auction repacking plan.  Our analysis suggests that after a successful auction, on average, over 800 stations will need to move to a new channel assignment. While the actual post-auction station count could be larger or smaller, it’s pretty clear that the repacking will be a big, complicated, challenging lift.  And the challenge won’t stop at our borders – while the U.S. repacks, our Canadian and Mexican neighbors will need to repack with us or our border markets could be frozen. Continue reading