GOP-Clyburn Lifeline Compromise Collapses, Pai Chief of Staff Says

A Lifeline compromise among FCC Republican Commissioners Ajit Pai and Mike O’Rielly and Democratic Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn reached this morning fell apart during a delay in the start time of today’s FCC meeting after “bullying” of his Democratic colleague by agency Chairman Tom Wheeler, leading the Commission back toward the earlier Lifeline proposals circulated by the Chairman, according to Commissioner Pai’s chief of staff, Matthew Berry. 

Commissioner Clyburn had reached out to the two Republican Commissioners earlier this week, according to Mr. Berry, and the offices of the three Commissioners “worked through the night” to reach an agreement this morning that included a $2 billion cap on Lifeline support, minimum standards that would transition from 10 to 25 megabits per second for 4G LTE, and the elimination of “enhanced” tribal Lifeline support in any area with more than 50 people per square mile.  Those provisions are similar to a compromise proposal announced by Commissioner Pai earlier this week, with a shift in the budget cap from $1.75 billion to $2 billion.

The collapse of that agreement during the delay of the meeting start-time apparently leaves in place a proposed draft circulated by Chairman Wheeler.  In its original form, that draft would set a $2.25 billion budget, indexed to inflation, with Lifeline-eligible mobile broadband offerings required to include at least 500 megabytes of monthly data at 3G speeds initially, and at least 2 GB of monthly data by the end of 2018, as well unlimited mobile voice minutes starting Dec. 1 of this year (TRDaily, March 8).

In statement, Commissioner Clyburn said, “I must address the elephant in the room—the delay in the meeting and rumors about a proposed cap on the Lifeline program. I have been consistent in saying that a cap should not be imposed and to be honest and completely transparent, I continue to hold that view. However, I have also been steadfast in my desire to reach consensus and seek compromise whenever possible, and I remain vocal in my call for fiscal responsibility for our universal service programs—all of which are capped except Lifeline.

“So, I negotiated in good faith to have a budget mechanism in place, that ensures millions of new households will have the opportunity to afford advanced telecommunications services. Upon further deliberation, I concluded that such a mechanism could not fully achieve my vision of a 21st century Lifeline program, but I applaud the deliberative process and want to thank Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly and their staff for engaging well into the night and morning,” Commissioner Clyburn added.

A spokesperson for the Commission declined to comment on Mr. Berry’s statements, including his allegations about Chairman Wheeler’s role in changing Commissioner Clyburn’s mind. —Lynn Stanton,

Courtesy TRDaily



FirstNet Official Stresses Flexibility in RFP

A First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) official said in a blog posting today that in discussions on the authority’s request for proposals (RFP), “one topic that has repeatedly cropped up is the dreaded ‘R’ word:  requirements.

“Despite our best efforts, some still think we’ve hidden a series of requirements in the RFP to gear the solution to one corner of industry or that we have a specific outcome in mind that can only be achieved by meeting these imaginary requirements,” said James Mitchell, FirstNet’s director-program management. “The simple fact is we have an objectives-based RFP, including 16 objectives, for Offerors to address in their proposals. We even ask for a Performance Work Statement in Section L (Instructions, Conditions, and Notices to Offerors or Respondents) of the RFP so that Offerors have the freedom and flexibility to produce truly innovative solutions and approaches for the network.”

“If we had written a requirements-based RFP, we would have broken the IOC [initial operational capability]/FOC [final operational capability] into a complex series of nationwide delivery requirements by milestone, and then again by each of the 56 states and territories,” he added. “FirstNet essentially would have been telling industry experts that: 1) we expect Offerors to meet the demands of the Government by adhering to the schedule, 2) we won’t pay Offerors until they deliver on the milestones we have established, 3) we don’t want any more than what we have asked for in the RFP, and 4) even if Offerors have a different model, it doesn’t matter, this is how we require them to do business.

“In contrast, by developing an objectives-based RFP, we are instead asking industry experts: 1) to propose a schedule that gets FirstNet to each of the outcomes inherent in our objectives, 2) to propose the milestones upon which payment would be delivered, 3) if you can do more, please tell us, and 4) if there exists an approach objectively greater than the one we listed in the RFP, by all means, propose it,” Mr. Mitchell added. – Paul Kirby,

Courtesy TRDaily

Mission Critical Reports: Industry Should Push Washington on T-Band

By Sandra Wendelken, Editor, Monday, March 28, 2016

You may remember that the 2012 legislation that created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) also mandated that by 2021 the FCC must auction the UHF T-band spectrum. Public-safety agencies and business/industry (B/I) licensees use this spectrum in 11 markets in the United States.

The FCC in 2012 froze the band because the bill directed it to auction the T-band spectrum. The law dictates that relocation of public-safety entities from the T-band spectrum shall be completed within two years after the auction, so by 2023. The legislation does not address B/I relocation efforts

Read more here:


First Responder Network Authority Weekly Update to Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) – March 28, 2016

FirstNet News

User Advocacy continues its preparations for the Spring 2016 single point of contact (SPOC) Meeting on April 12-13 in McLean, Virginia.  Nearly 225 people have registered to attend, including representatives from 54 states and territories, the PSAC Executive Committee, the Tribal Working Group (TWG), federal partners, Canada public safety authorities, and FirstNet Board members and staff.  An email with the final agenda and logistical information will be sent to registered attendees next week.

FirstNet will be holding a Federal Open House on April 14, 2016 in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of Commerce.  Federal stakeholders will have the opportunity to receive updates on FirstNet’s consultation and technology efforts in 2016 and beyond.  The event will be open to all federal ID card holders and other interested parties in the National Capitol Region.  Invitations and information will be distributed through the Agency Points-of-Contact (APOC).

The International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) 2016 was held last week in Las Vegas, Nevada.  FirstNet Board members, User Advocacy senior management and staff, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), and the Program Management Office (PMO) engaged public safety and industry attendees in 12 sessions, including many stakeholder led discussions on FirstNet.  CEO Mike Poth provided a keynote address to a packed room highlighting the need for a “true partnership for public safety.”  Throughout the week, the FirstNet team discussed state plan delivery, risks and challenges associated with state opt-out, “true priority”, and timelines for key activities, including the Request for Proposal (RFP).   The team looks forward to continuing these discussions at the upcoming SPOC meeting. Continue reading

DHS Official: Cyber Threat Data-Sharing Portal Ready to Go

Andy Ozment, assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications at the Department of Homeland Security, said today that DHS has completed the necessary work to enable sharing of cybersecurity threat indicators between the government and private sector entities, and said it was time for the private sector to step up and sharing more threat data.

Speaking at a meeting of the federally-chartered Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board, Mr. Ozment recapped DHS efforts to create its Automated Indicator Sharing (AIS) portal, which responds to the requirements of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 that became law in December 2015.  Continue reading

Consultants Consider Process Ahead for State FirstNet Decision

LAS VEGAS – March 25, 2016. Public safety consultants late yesterday mulled what states should do to be ready to review plans that the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) expects to deliver to them early next year. During a session at the IWCE show here, Dominick Arcuri of DVA expressed concern that states won’t have sufficient input on development of the state plans due to the short time period. He also urged states to develop evaluation criteria on what they want to see in a state plan.

Emil Olbrich of Primeline Consulting said 40% of governors were elected in the last election cycle, which means that many FirstNet single points of contact (SPOCs) are new. “There’s a lot of education that FirstNet has to do,” he said. He expressed concern that governors will not have the necessary information to make a decision on opting out of having the FirstNet partner build the radio access network (RAN) in their state. Continue reading

NPSTC Meeting: Furth Says Several Items Set for Circulation in Q2

LAS VEGAS –March 25, 2016. Several public safety-related items are expected to be circulated to FCC Commissioners in the second quarter of this year, David Furth, deputy chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, told the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) during a quarterly meeting today that was held in conjunction with the IWCE show here.

An order would address a First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) request  that the Commission condition licenses or other authorizations to use Band 14 “upon the requirement that no operation on Band 14 be permitted without the express consent of FirstNet after July 31, 2017” (TRDaily, Oct. 22, 2015), Mr. Furth said. Also, a further notice would address how the FCC exercises its statutory responsibility to address state opt-out requests, he said.

Also in the second quarter, circulation of the FCC’s “long-awaited” 4.9 gigahertz band further notice is expected, Mr. Furth said. He stressed that the Commission’s goal is “maximizing the benefits of this band for public safety.”

The third item expected for circulation in the second quarter involves the use of interoperability channels by railroad police, Mr. Furth said.

He also said the FCC hopes to move forward in its 800 megahertz band interstitial channel proceeding and said his bureau is monitoring for impact on public safety a proceeding in which the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau is considering changes to cellular power rules.

Mr. Furth also noted that two public safety items are currently being considered by Commissioners. Continue reading

FirstNet Early Builders Cite Successes, Challenges

LAS VEGAS – March 23, 2016. Representatives of the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) five early builder projects provided updates today on their initiatives at the IWCE show here today and said they are pleased that the programs are providing lessons that can help FirstNet and states. Pat Mallon, executive director of the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS), said that his system met a Sept. 30 deadline for deploying 77 sites – down from the original planned 230 sites after it ran into fire union, politician, and community opposition to the siting of cell sites over health and aesthetic concerns.

Mr. Mallon noted that Congress passed legislation last year that gives Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) projects until fiscal year 2020 to complete spending on their projects, an extension from Sept. 30, 2015 (TRDaily, Oct. 19, 2015). He also noted that LA-RICS is doing RF testing in response to firefighter health concerns, saying that the readings from sites show “extremely low” levels. Enhanced readings are being done at 12 sites where towers were installed at fire stations, he said. Continue reading

State Officials Complain that Rivada Urging States to Opt Out

LAS VEGAS – March 23, 2016. Two state officials said at the IWCE show here today that they have heard that representatives of Rivada Networks LLC have urged the governor’s office in their states to opt out of having the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) partner build their radio access networks (RANs). During a session this morning, Michael Saltzman, project manager in the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety & Security, said that there was word that Rivada had pushed an opt-out “solution.”

“North Carolina had the same experience,” said Red Grasso, assistant director of FirstNetNC.

Mr. Saltzman told TRDaily after the session that Rivada had met with “somebody in the executive office level” without involving Curtis Wood, who is the FirstNet single point of contact and the state’s undersecretary-forensic science and technology. Continue reading

Draft Lifeline Order Would “Undermine” State Programs, NARUC’s Ramsay Says

The draft Lifeline order currently circulating at the FCC “as it is currently described to me … will undermine state matching programs and certainly make them less effective, and lead to more fraud and abuse,” Brad Ramsay, general counsel of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, said today during the Free State Foundation’s Telecom Policy Conference. The draft order, as circulated, would extend Lifeline support to standalone and bundled broadband services, create a streamlined federal process for providers not currently participating in the program to become certified, and establish a program budget of $2.25 billion, indexed to inflation (TRDaily, March 8).

The introduction of an optional national process for the FCC to certify providers as “Lifeline Broadband Providers”—as an alternative to the existing state-certification of eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs)—would “undermine state-matching programs” that provide additional state-funded Lifeline support, Mr. Ramsay said.  Continue reading