FirstNet Approves PSAC, Boulder Facility Resolutions, Details Customer, Network Offices

Two First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) committees today approved resolutions recommending that the full board tomorrow endorse a new lease for FirstNet’s technical headquarters in Boulder, Colo., and an updated charter for the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC). Meanwhile, FirstNet officials detailed during committee meetings in Chicago plans to launch a Chief Customer Office and a Network Program Office as part of the fiscal year 2017 budget.The resolution for the Boulder lease, which was approved by the Finance Committee, recommends renewing the current lease for a five-year term followed by five one-year options. Officials said the terms are very favorable, especially considering the increase in rents in the Boulder area.

The resolution by the Governance and Personnel Committee concerning the PSAC charter deals with, among other things, increasing the membership to include representatives of the Justice and Homeland Security departments and modifying the reporting structure of the PSAC executive committee to FirstNet. The PSAC plans to launch a federal working group that will include representatives from other federal agencies as well. The resolution also recommends updating the appendix of PSAC members to include new groups that are represented.

In announcing plans to establish the Chief Customer Office, FirstNet officials described it as part of the effort to transition from a planning phase to an operational phase once FirstNet awards a contract and deployment of the network begins. Continue reading

NPSTC Publishes Channel Naming Recommendations

TRDaily reports: The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) today announced the publication of intrastate channel naming recommendations. They provide “recommendations on the assignment of standardized names for regional and statewide interoperability channels,” the federation said. “This is a companion document to the NPSTC and Association of Public Safety Officials – International (APCO) American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Common Channel Naming Standard currently in the ANSI approval process.”


Deere Clarifies Ligado Positions

June 22, 2016–Deere & Company has clarified its position regarding license modifications sought by Ligado Networks LLC. In reply comments filed in IB dockets 11-109 and 12-340, Deere said that it “wishes to clarify for the record: (1) its position with respect to the grant of the Modification Application; (2) the appropriate terms and conditions of any such grant; (3) the proper characterization of the Deere-LightSquared litigation Settlement Agreement; and (4) the appropriate metric for determining whether a GPS receiver under test has experienced harmful interference.”

Deere, which did not file initial comments in response to an FCC public notice released in April (TRDaily, April 22), said that its  “primary interest in Ligado’s network proposals — and in its predecessor’s proposal — is to ensure that the deployment of a terrestrial high power network in what was historically satellite spectrum will not cause interference to the adjacent U.S. GPS and other international Global Navigation Service Systems (‘GNSS’). Deere herein confirms that it does not oppose grant of the Modification Application, as proposed, that would incorporate the full set of technical parameters and licensing conditions, including specified power limits, out-of-band emissions (‘OOBE’) limits, and the determination that the 1545-1555 MHz band may not be used for terrestrial operations, consistent with Deere’s Settlement Agreement with Ligado.” Continue reading

Ligado’s 1675-1680 MHz Band Petition Panned by Users of NOAA Data

June 22, 2016–A petition for rulemaking filed by Ligado Networks LLC asking the FCC to allocate and auction the 1675-1680 megahertz band for shared commercial use with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is drawing opposition from public and private entities that rely on NOAA satellites to provide weather and other environmental data. Some parties oppose the allocation outright, while others say the FCC should not adopt it unless all users of NOAA data are protected or more study is conducted. But some commercial wireless interests and public interest groups support the petition. For its part, Ligado reiterated that spectrum sharing could be accommodated without causing interference and that non-federal users of the weather and other data could get the information via an alternative terrestrial system. But the critics expressed skepticism that such a terrestrial system would work. Comments were filed in Rulemaking 11681 by yesterday’s deadline in response to a public notice released in April seeking to update and refresh the FCC’s record on a petition filed in 2012 by Ligado’s predecessor company, LightSquared (TRDaily, April 22).

In its comments, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) stressed the importance of accurate and timely information on meteorology, climatology, hydrology, and related geophysical sciences developments, noting that data from weather satellites are used to provide “warning of natural and environmental disasters and detailed understanding of the status of global water resources.” It said that “the risk of interference in these bands in unprotected sites is of significant concern since it is expected that regulations will include provisions that only select U.S. federal government sites will be protected, akin to the recent AWS-3 sale of spectrum. The recent evidence that has emerged about interference from terrestrial wireless signals in an adjacent band that disrupted downlinks from current GOES [geostationary orbiting environmental satellites] satellites is of grave concern to WMO and NMHSs (national meteorological and hydrological services], especially in hurricane prone areas of the western hemisphere.”

WMO also said that obtaining NOAA satellite data via the Internet, as Ligado has suggested, “is not a reliable solution during many weather hazard situations, especially hurricanes. It is crucial for forecasters and emergency managers, especially in hurricane prone areas, to be able to receive crucial geostationary satellite data without delay due to internet outages, which his often the first utility to be lost during severe weather.” The American Meteorological Society (AMS) said it “is concerned that sharing the 1675-1680 MHz radio spectrum and resulting interference as a result of that sharing would limit the American weather enterprise’s access to timely weather satellite imagery and thus burdens the weather research and decision services that our members provide, with implications for the American public. Eliminating direct broadcast reception of weather satellite imagery would substantiate a risk of bandwidth limitations, data interruptions, subpar reliability, and unmet user needs.”

“Those advocating to share the 1675-1695 MHz radio spectrum have proposed a terrestrial delivery method to ameliorate concerns of interrupted access to GOES and GOES-R data,” AMS noted. “However, this proposal presents several obstacles to AMS members that are detrimental to the timeliness and reliability of the data flow. These are outlined without any specific designation of relative importance.” Continue reading

CSRIC Launches Group to Study Signaling System 7 Security

June 22, 2016–An FCC advisory board today formally named a new working group that will seek ways to address security vulnerabilities in the signaling system 7 (SS7) telephony signaling protocol and other legacy systems and services. The FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council added a working group to its existing lineup – working group 10 – to study vulnerabilities in SS7 and other legacy systems.  Such systems present organizations with hard choices, said David Simpson, chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.

“As you get to the end of life of the system, you really don’t want to put another penny into it if you can avoid it, but that is when risk often is at its greatest,” Mr. Simpson said at today’s CSRIC meeting.  The new working group will be headed by two co-chairs, one of whom will be Danny McPherson, chief security officer at Verisign, Inc.

“The working group will be asked to consider and address several questions regarding security improvements to the authentication and encryption of SS7 traffic,” Mr. Simpson said.  “We are hopeful that the recommendations that will result from this working group will lead to greater confidence and evidence of secure, resilient communication as the transition to next-generation communications continues.” Continue reading

FirstNet Committees, Board to Meet

The First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) four committees are scheduled to hold a joint meeting June 29 from 1-3:30 p.m. CST in Chicago. On June 30, the full board is scheduled to meet from 8:30 a.m.-noon CST. The meetings will be held at the W Chicago-City Center, 172 West Adams St.  During the committee meetings, the Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on a recommendation concerning a lease at FirstNet’s Boulder, Colo., facility, while the Governance and Personnel Committee plans to vote on a recommendation to update the charter of the Public Safety Advisory Committee. At the full board meeting, it is scheduled to vote on both of those resolutions.

FirstNet Weekly Update to the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) – June 27, 2016

FirstNet News  

The FirstNet Board will convene an open public meeting on June 30, 2016 between 8:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. CST, preceded by an open public meeting of the FirstNet Governance and Personnel, Finance, Technology, and Consultation and Outreach Committees on June 29, 2016 between 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. CST. The meetings will be held at 172 West Adams Street, Chicago, Illinois 60603 and available via webcast on the FirstNet website. For more information click here.

FirstNet has now completed 27 State Governance Body Consultation Meetings, with meetings in Ohio, New Mexico, and the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) last week. Discussions at these engagements focused on the opt-in/opt-out decision and timeline, sustainability and coverage of the FirstNet network, the deployment process, subscription and device costs, and user fees in both rural and urban areas. These meetings have increasingly been paired with metropolitan and executive consultation elements, in addition to Quality of Service, Priority and Preemption (QPP) Consultation Task Team (CTT) meetings. Region VI held its QPP CTT engagement following the New Mexico Governance Body meeting, which included 30 public safety representatives. Continue reading

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Round Up, June 23, 2016

On Tuesday, June 21, 2016, the U. S. Senate had its chance to call on FirstNet and others to provide updates on progress being made. This was a subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet hearing chaired by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss). The hearing was titled “FirstNet, an Oversight update on the Status of the Public Safety Broadband Network.” This type of oversight hearing is required in the law and the House recently held its own hearing. The idea of a Senate hearing or any congressional hearing, for that matter, is to provide information to those on the committee holding the hearing and of course to any others who have an interest.

Those who are lined up as witnesses must write their remarks and pre-submit them to the committee so they can be read and questions formulated. At the actual hearing, the testimony is word-for-word what has already been presented, and only during question and answer sessions are there an opportunities for additional or follow-up remarks or information. Also during the hearing the committee members usually send a staffer or two to take notes and the actual committee members come in and out of the hearing so they can be counted as being present and so they can ask questions that, for the most part, their staffers have framed for them. While it is not a perfect system it is what we have and FirstNet is treated no differently from any other organization reporting its progress to the committee that has oversight. There were four witnesses at this hearing: Mike Poth, CEO of FirstNet; Jeffrey McLeod, Director of Homeland Security and Public Safety Division, National Governors Association; Major General Arthur Logan, the Single point of contact for FirstNet for the State of Hawaii, and the Adjutant General for Hawaii; and Andrew Katsaros, Assistant Inspector General for Audit, U.S. Department of Commerce (which is the organization within the federal government that has direct responsibility for FirstNet.)

The FirstNet CEO updated the committee on FirstNet’s progress and told the committee that barring unforeseen complications, FirstNet intends to award a partner contract by November 1 of this year. He then discussed the state, tribal, territory, and federal consultations that have been occurring in phases 1 and 2 of the state consultations. He also discussed the network as a catalyst for innovation and the Internet of Things (IoT), and ended by asking the committee to continue to support FirstNet’s efforts. The speaker from the National Governors Association (NGA) made a few statements worth repeating. First was the fact that the NGA believes the states’ choice to opt out is a “false choice” because of the unknown financial risks inherent with building out and managing the Radio Access Portion (RAN) in a state. He then turned to his concerns about rural coverage for the network, when it will be offered, and cost estimates for the service. These are all good questions but answers will have to wait until FirstNet and its partner sit down across from each other and have the types of discussions that should result in answers to these questions. The testimony from the gentleman from Hawaii was, for the most part, a positive report on the FirstNet and state consultation and data gathering process while the Assistant Inspector General’s comments were you would expect: FirstNet is doing better but is still not perfect and we are working with FirstNet to ensure it adheres to all of the Federal Rules and Regulations, nothing earth shattering, which is a good thing! Continue reading

FirstNet Weekly Update to the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) – June 20, 201

FirstNet News  

FirstNet CEO Mike Poth will be testifying tomorrow at the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet hearing titled, “FirstNet Oversight: An Update on the Status of the Public Safety Broadband Network.”  The hearing will start at 9:30 AM EST.  Other witnesses at the hearing include Mr. Jeffrey McLeod, Director of Homeland Security and Public Safety Division, National Governors Association; Major General Arthur J. Logan, Single Point of Contact (SPOC), State of Hawaii and Hawaii Adjutant General; and Mr. Andrew Katsaros, Assistant Inspector General for Audit, U.S. Department of Commerce.  To watch the webcast, please visit this page for more information:

FirstNet has now completed 23 State Governance Body Consultation Meetings with meetings in Kansas, Missouri, and Wyoming last week. Discussions at these engagements focused on the request for proposal (RFP) process, State Plans, the opt-in/opt-out decision and timeline, sustainability and coverage of the FirstNet network, the deployment process, subscription and device costs, and voice capabilities. Continue reading

CIA Chief Argues for Encryption Solution to Help Counter ISIL Threat

June 16, 2016–Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan today called on lawmakers—in the aftermath of the June 12 murder of 49 people in Orlando, Fla.—to continue to work toward some type of solution that would allow U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access the content of encrypted communications and devices in pursuit of terrorists and major criminals. The CIA director made his plea at an open hearing held by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which most often conducts its hearings with intelligence agency heads in closed session. 

While Mr. Brennan did not claim that the perpetrator of the Orlando murders—Omar Mateen, who at the time of his criminal actions professed his allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)—used encrypted communications technologies in connection with those actions, he discussed at length the use of such technologies by ISIL and other terrorist organizations and underscored the need for intelligence and law enforcement agencies to be able to access the content of encrypted communications. 

Obama administration law enforcement and intelligence agency officials have been calling for a path forward to access such encrypted communications for more than a year, and have taken Apple, Inc., to court in unsuccessful bids to force the company to unlock Apple devices that may have held encrypted content and may have been used in the commission of crimes, including the December 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.

Speaking at today’s hearing, Mr. Brennan said that ISIL members are often young, comfortable with using social media and other online communications technologies, and “are very aware of what mediums provide them with the greatest security and protection . . . They recognize that a lot of apps have end-to-end encryption.”

In light of the use of such technologies by ISIL and other groups, Mr. Brennan said he would “hearken back” to plead with committee members “to continue to have the discussion” about the “appropriate role of the government in an area where the private sector owns and operates the worldwide Internet.” Continue reading