May 25, 2016–In a 229-158 House vote yesterday evening, a bill aimed at providing law enforcement officials with cellphone location information during emergencies failed to receive two-thirds approval required for passage under suspension of the rules. Known as the Kelsey Smith Act (HR 4889) after a crime victim who died when it took four days for law enforcement to obtain location information from her cellphone provider, the bill would require telecommunications carriers to share location data if law enforcement believes that someone is in danger of death or serious harm.
Democrats have raised privacy concerns about HR 4889 and called for changes to the bill to require law enforcement officials to seek after-the-fact approval from courts to confirm that they had probable cause to believe that there was an emergency with risk of death or serious physical injury or that the location was needed to respond to a 911 call. In a statement after the vote, House communications and technology subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R., Ore.) said, “The time was now to act. The time was now to help families find abducted children and I’m disappointed my colleagues could not support this narrowly written bill.”
“We worked diligently to make this a bill that balanced privacy concerns with the importance of saving lives. It’s modeled after the law of the state of Oregon that passed unanimously through a Democratic legislature and was signed by a Democratic governor. The majority of the House supported this measure, so, I’m frustrated with my colleagues who voted against providing law enforcement with a critical tool to protect the public in urgent situations where every second counts. This bill respected the rights of the state and local legislatures to determine for themselves the appropriate procedures for law enforcement to protect their citizens privacy. I will continue to work to see this life saving tool made available nationwide,” Chairman Walden added. Continue reading
May 25, 2016–The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee heard differing views today on whether implementing the transition of oversight over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Named and Numbers’ IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) function away from the U.S. Department of Commerce to the global multistakeholder community by the end of September would increase or decrease the risk of interference by governments or multilateral organizations in Internet governance.
ICANN forwarded the IANA transition proposal to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration on March 10, and NTIA planned to complete within 90 days its review of the proposal for compliance with criteria it laid out in the spring of 2014, including: support and enhance the multistakeholder model of Internet governance; maintain the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet domain name system; meet the needs and expectations of the global customers and partners of IANA services; and maintain the openness of the Internet. Continue reading
May 24, 2016–Various offices and bureaus of the FCC said today in a public notice that despite delays in posting of electronically filed comments, they “do not find it necessary to grant a broad extension of comment deadlines in pending rulemaking proceedings.” They added that the FCC “expects that already-planned system upgrades to ECFS that are expected in the near future will limit the likelihood of such delays in the future.”
The public notice said that the problems with the electronic comment filing system are not preventing parties from filing comments, and that “it appears that the vast majority of comments have been, and will continue to be, entered into ECFS promptly enough to enable the preparation of complete reply comments by the scheduled due dates. The records remain open in the affected rulemaking proceedings, and to the extent that interested parties wish to inform the Commission of their view of any comments that were subject to delays in posting, they may, of course, employ the usual procedure for filing supplemental comments. The Commission’s rules permit parties to supplement their reply comments to address late-posted pleadings.”
The offices and bureaus that issued the public notice are the Consumer and Governmental Affairs, International, Media, Public Safety and Homeland Security, Wireline Competition, and Wireless Telecommunications bureaus, and the offices of the Managing Director, and Engineering and Technology. —Lynn Stanton, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration plans to revise its standards for fall protection and hoisting related to communications towers. “While the number of employees engaged in the communication tower industry remains small, the fatality rate is very high. Over the past 20 years, this industry has experienced an average fatality rate that greatly exceeds that of the construction industry, for example. Falls are the leading cause of death in tower work and OSHA has evidence that fall protection is used either improperly or inconsistently,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a spring 2016 regulatory agenda released last week.
“Employees are often hoisted to working levels on small base-mounted drum hoists that have been mounted to a truck chassis, and these may not be rated to hoist personnel. Communication tower construction and maintenance activities are not adequately covered by current OSHA fall protection and personnel hoisting standards, and OSHA plans to revise the standard,” OMB added. “Revisions would clarify the safety responsibilities regarding tower work, structural considerations and Radio Frequency hazards. It would also consider incorporating the new industry consensus standards for construction or maintenance of communication towers.”
OMB said that a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel would be initiated in July. —Paul Kirby, email@example.com
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications’ (OEC) official eNewsletter, the Emergency Communications Forum (ECF) publishes ECF Volume 19, fesaturing exciting stories about communications planning and support for the Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay, the Project 25 Inter-Radio Frequency Subsystem Interface Project in Colorado, and one man’s experience taking OEC’s Auxiliary Communications (AUXCOMM) course (reprinted with permission from the American Radio Relay League).
These stories and more appear in this issue of the ECF. For questions or more information, please visit our website at www.DHS.gov (keyword ‘OEC’) or email us at OECOutreach@hq.dhs.gov.
May 24, 2016–CTIA today proposed safe harbors for deployment in the 28 gigahertz, 39 GHz, and 37 GHz bands for 5G services. In an ex parte filing in GN docket 14-177, IB dockets 15-256 and 97-95, and WT docket 10-112, the trade group said, “A substantial service performance requirement with safe harbors is reflective of the technical characteristics of, nascent nature of the technology contemplated for, and proposed usage of, these spectrum bands.”
VTIA said that a “substantial service” performance requirement “would allow each individual licensee the flexibility to deploy service without unnecessary regulatory requirements.”
The safe harbors for meeting that substantial service showing should include (1) “Fixed microwave service would require four (4) links per million in population by the end of the license term;” or (2) “Mobile broadband service must be provided with 10 connections per 10,000 in population by the end of the license term;” or (3) “Mobile broadband service must be provided with a number of connections consistent with the size of the geographic service area licensed,” CTIA said.
“Given that these technologies and services are at an early stage of development, CTIA believes that employing an approach that allows license holders flexibility to respond to the demands of consumers and evolving services, rather than a rigid coverage requirement that is inconsistent with the service likely to be provided, is the correct regulatory outcome,” the filing added. —Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org
May 24, 2016–The FCC has received mixed views on Ligado Networks LLC’s request that the FCC modify its licenses, with GPS manufacturers that hammered out spectrum use agreements with Ligado generally favorable, although they criticized the metric the company uses to determine harmful interference. Some other entities, including aviation interests, raised concerns about Ligado’s request and urged the FCC to hold off acting in the proceeding. But public interest groups and competitive carriers are among those supporting the Ligado license modifications.
The comments were submitted by yesterday’s deadline in IB dockets 11-109 and 12-340 in response to a public notice released by the FCC last month seeking comments on the company’s license modifications request (TRDaily, April 22). A second public notice released the same day last month sought comments on Ligado’s call for the FCC to launch a proceeding to allocate and auction the 1675-1680 megahertz band for shared use with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Comments and replies on that public notice are due June 21 and July 21, respectively.
In the public notice on the license modifications, the FCC sought views “on the specifics of Ligado’s proposal relating to its operations in the portions of the MSS L-band spectrum below 1559 MHz, including its abandonment of any terrestrial authorization in the 1545-1555 MHz portion, and its limiting of terrestrial operations to the 1526-1536 MHz portion of the MSS L-band under the proposed set of license conditions. We also seek comment on Ligado’s modified proposals with respect to operating in the 1627.5-1637.5 MHz and 1646.5-1656.5 MHz portions of the MSS uplink band. In addition, we invite comment on the significance to our considerations of the agreements between Ligado and Deere, Garmin, and Trimble.” Continue reading
DALLAS, May 24, 2016– The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) will have a tight timeline to meet its goal to deliver state plans next year after awarding a contract to a partner in November, a FirstNet official acknowledged today. The official also observed that it would not be possible for the nationwide public safety broadband network to cover all of the U.S.’s land mass 24 hours a day. During a session this afternoon at the Wireless Infrastructure Association’s Wireless Infrastructure Show (PCIA was dropped from the group’s name today), Ed Parkinson, FirstNet’s director-government affairs, noted that it is spending time preparing states to receive state plans next year. He observed that FirstNet plans to award a contract in November, adding then it has “a very aggressive timeline” for working w ith its partner to deliver state plans by the end of the second quarter of 2017.
Mr. Parkinson said that if states decide to allow FirstNet to build the radio access networks (RANs) in their states, task orders can be issued and deployment can begin “immediately thereafter.” For those states that want to build their own RANs, “it’s complicated,” Mr. Parkinson said. He noted that states would have 180 days to issue a request for proposals (RFP) and must get approvals from the FCC, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and FirstNet. That process could delay deployment by months or years, he said. But he also stressed that FirstNet is committed to making “a success of” states that opt out. Continue reading
May 23, 2016–A group of governors sent a letter today to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler urging the FCC to take action and give states authority to address issues regarding contraband cellphones in prisons. “We write today to encourage you and your fellow Commissioners to reevaluate the FCC’s regulations regarding contraband cellphones,” the group of Republican governors wrote in the letter. “States must have the flexibility and authority to eradicate this real and serious threat to the public safety in our states.” Continue reading
May 23, 2016–The bipartisan leadership of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee have asked FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to explain how the agency’s proposal for requiring video programming distributors to give third-party set-top box (STB) device and app makers access to consumer content and related information will affect cybersecurity.
“As more and more devices become directly connected to the Internet, it is imperative that they be developed with adequate levels of security in mind. Vulnerabilities in software and hardware can allow malicious actors to infect consumers’ devices and carry out cyberattacks,” Sens. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) and Tom Carper (D., Del.) and Reps. Michael McCaul (R., Texas) and Bennie Thompson (D., Miss.) wrote to Chairman Wheeler in a letter dated today.
“These attacks could allow criminals from across the globe to access networks and steal sensitive data. Further, without the right cybersecurity protections across networks, a vulnerable device could allow cybercriminals entry,” they said.
They raised a number of specific questions, including whether the FCC had considered the risk management approach in the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework for critical infrastructure industries when it developed its STB proposals. “Does the proposed rulemaking address potential economic harm to content creators or businesses that may be impacted from the potential for cyberattacks or potential harm to infrastructure?” the lawmakers asked. —Lynn Stanton, email@example.com