Andrew Seybold’s Real World Intelligence, July 29, 2016

Cutting the Cord (Even if You Don’t Want To!)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a Report and Order known as Technology Transitions, Basically, this document puts forth the requirements wireline (telephony) network operators must meet while transitioning from wired telephony and other wireline services to other technologies. In an effort to protect all of us who use copper-based wire services in one form or another, the FCC has issued a set of what might be called consumers rights.

A Little Wired History

When Ma Bell, the old AT&T long before the break-up, built out the wired telephone network in the United States it did some pretty amazing things. It was a monopoly in every sense of the word in most of the United States. It could have built a less expensive network with less redundancy and less reliability but it chose instead to build a world class, almost mission-critical wired network. It powered phones in our homes and offices from its central offices so when our power went off the phone continued to work. It built redundant routing paths for calls, upgraded field equipment before it had to, built a massive microwave system to transport calls, and ran millions of miles of copper wire, stringing it on telephone poles across the United States. It did such a good job that even today, the most reliable form of voice communications is the wired phone network.

The current FCC commissioners recognize that fact but also that there have been many technology advances since the inception of wireline telephone. Therefore, the six points discussed in its document include: back-up power, notification of the network’s customers and what they should ask their provider, a section on questions and answers, a discussion of copper vs. fiber, and finally how to file a complaint if the network operator does not comply with the previous points. It is clear that the FCC is trying to minimize the impact for customers who will no longer have telephony services available to them via traditional wireline services. However, there are a number of other uses for the same copper wires that carry voice calls. Many of these uses require what is called a “dry pair” of copper wires that runs from one location to another. These are connected to equipment at both ends but the circuit is not attached to the telephony portion of the network. You might think of it as a wire that runs from your stereo to your speaker to carry the sound, or perhaps the wire that connects your thermostat to your heating and/or air conditioning system.

Today thousands of Public Safety agencies use this type of copper circuit to connect remote two-way or wireless radios to a dispatch center. Other departments may use direct copper to send alarms to fire stations, or for direct telephony connections such as what you might imagine as a red phone. Many of these circuits are used for machine-to-machine connectivity (now called the Internet of Things or IoT). Water companies use them to measure the amount of water in a remote storage tank and turn on a pump when it needs replenishing. Cell phones using first, second, and even third-generation technologies used copper circuits to transport voice, text, and data calls from cell sites back to their network and then route them to their destination. Today’s fourth-generation wireless is broadband and copper circuits are no longer capable of handling the amount of data transported to and from the cell sites. Continue reading Reports Mercedes-Benz App Gives Firefighters 3-D View of Cars

New augmented reality app shows “x-ray” of fuel lines and cables on live vehicles

ATLANTA — If you often find yourself extricating patients from Mercedes-Benz vehicles, a new app can help.

The official Rescue Assist app released by the company can show first responders where it is safe to make cuts into the vehicle. By looking at these diagrams, responders can avoid hitting fuel lines, battery cables or any other components that would affect the safety of the patient or caregivers when cut.

The newest update to Rescue Assist comes with an augmented reality view. Like the “Pokémon Go” app, users can point their phone camera at a real-world Mercedes vehicle and see a virtual overlay of the car on top of the actual image — sort of like an X-ray — that shows the relative location of the vulnerable parts.

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Items from July 28, 2016, FCC Daily Digest

AMENDMENT OF PART 97 OF THE COMMISSION’S AMATEUR RADIO SERVICE RULES TO PERMIT GREATER FLEXIBILITY IN DATA COMMUNICATIONS.   Proposed to amend Part 97 of the Commission’s Rules regarding technical standards applicable to data communications that may be transmitted in the Amateur Radio Service. (Dkt No.  16-239 RM-11708 ). Action by:  the Commission. Adopted:  07/27/2016 by NPRM. (FCC No. 16-96).  WTB;

This item proposes to remove current data rate limitations in Part 97 of the rules for amateur radio services.  The proposal is based on a request from ARRL.  NPRM, released July 28, 2016, WT Docket No. 16-239.  Comments due 60 days after, and Reply Comments 90 days after, publication of the NPRM in the Federal Register.

AMENDMENTS TO HARMONIZE AND STREAMLINE PART 20 OF THE COMMISSION’S RULES CONCERNING REQUIREMENTS FOR LICENSEES TO OVERCOME A CMRS PRESUMPTION.   Seeks comment on proposal to end the presumption contained in section 20.9 of the Commission’s rules. (Dkt No.  16-240 ). Action by:  the Commission. Adopted:  07/27/2016 by NPRM. (FCC No. 16-95).  WTB;

This item proposes to address some of the issues around the classification and regulation of services as a commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) or a private mobile radio service (PMRS).   NPRM, released July 28, 2016, WT Docket No. 16-240.  Comments due 60 days after, and Reply Comments 90 days after,  publication of the NPRM in the Federal Register.

OEC TA Program Schedules RADO and INTD training in August and September

The OEC Technical Assistance program has scheduled technical assistance offerings for RADO and INTD in August and September in the following locations:


  Date              Location         Course

8/9/2016 Texas TRG-RADO All-Hazard Radio Operator (RADO) Training
9/13/2016 Wisconsin TRG-INTD Incident Tactical Dispatcher (INTD) Training
9/13/2016 Oklahoma TRG-RADO All-Hazard Radio Operator (RADO) Training


Members of the Communications Workgroup who would like to attend as an observer are welcome. If you would like to attend, please contact OEC TA at for further information on the date and location you’re interested in.

NARUC Panelists: ROR Order Leaves Questions Unanswered

July 26, 2016–NASHVILLE – Although the FCC through its recent rate-of-return reform efforts has sought to provide clarity to carriers regarding their future levels of support, some panelists said today that order has left a lot of questions unanswered. The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ (NARUC) Telecommunications Committee today participated in a panel discussion on the FCC’s rate of return proceeding.  Wireline Competition Bureau Deputy Chief Carol Mattey explained the FCC’s recent rate of return order and said that the decision was meant to give current rate of return carriers options, while modifying the legacy high-cost support to provide support for broadband-only lines.

According to Ms. Mattey, several of the reforms put in place were the recommendation of the industry.  “This was not an effort to shove something down the throats of the companies, but instead we worked together on how we can achieve goals.”

“There was a give and take.  But we really wanted this to be something that we would work through in a non-adversarial kind of way,” she added.  “And we did not have anyone take us to court on this one, which I view as a personal victory.”

The FCC in its decision adopted a “voluntary path under which rate-of-return carriers may elect model-based support for a term of 10 years in exchange for meeting defined build-out obligations.”  Carriers that choose to remain regulated under the legacy system for rate-of-return will also be subject to specific broadband deployment obligations. Continue reading Reports: They’re Here–Search and Rescue Drone Registered in the County

Flying drones is no longer just for hobbyists in Albemarle. Earlier this month, the county was gifted a DJI Phantom 3—its first unmanned aircraft system for search and rescue purposes. David King, who donated the drone, is a founder of King Family Vineyards, a longtime pilot and attorney, and a current search and rescue team member and reserve deputy with the Albemarle Sheriff’s Office. He and a team of those working to incorporate this new technology locally have practiced flying and run missing person simulations on his farm in Crozet.

Though drone users don’t need the county’s permission to use their aircrafts, for the Sheriff’s Office to routinely use unmanned aerial systems, they must be owned by the county and registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. King’s gift made that possible, says Board of Supervisors Chair Liz Palmer.

King was at a 2015 legal conference in Wise, Virginia, in which drones were discussed, and “it became clear to me that it was an emerging technology that would be very useful to the people who do the [searching],” he says. He immediately became interested in pursuing them. “The only purpose of this is to give the troops on the ground—the real heroes—a useful tool,” he says. “It’s not a silver wbullet, it’s only to help them do their job.”

Charles Werner, an unmanned aircraft systems adviser for the state and former city fire chief, also has been a major player in introducing this technology in our area. As a hobbyist, he has owned a drone for years, but he became interested in its ability to aid in search and rescue missions when Hannah Graham went missing in 2014. Though she was not located by an aircraft, he said it potentially reduced search time by thousands of hours.  “It revealed the value that could be benefited from searching hundreds, if not thousands, of acres of land,” he says. After retiring, he joined the search and rescue team.

But he acknowledges there are concerns with the technology. “We’re trying to be very diligent in the issue of privacy,” Werner says. “Because of the concerns of being spied on, that’s something we, at all costs, are trying to steer away from.” He says the drones will not be used for law enforcement or surveillance, but he does intend to use them to provide situational awareness in the instance of a natural disaster or major flood when it would be too dangerous to put a human in a boat. “It immediately gives you the ability to see the lay of the land,” Werner adds.

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NENA Hammers Decision on 911 Call-Takers

The National Emergency Number Association said today it was “deeply disappointed” with recommendations of the federal Standard Occupational Classification Policy Committee to continue to classify “public safety telecommunicators as ‘Office and Administrative Support’ workers, rather than as the critical public safety professionals that they are.” The recommendations were published earlier this month by the Office of Management and Budget, and that Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International expressed its disappointment with decision at that time (TRDaily, July 22).  By recommending that 911 call-takers be designated as “office workers . . . the committee ignored material differences between the work of public safety and commercial ‘dispatchers,’ including the unique training and demanding standards required of 9-1-1 professionals,” NENA said.

Brian Fontes, NENA’s chief executive officer, said in a statement, “The men and women of 9-1-1 do so much more than just answer the phone . . . They guide callers through life-saving procedures, provide advice on how to handle dangerous situations, and provide critical backup to field responders, all while under great stress and pressure.”  The group said its members “will be communicating with both OMB and their members of Congress in an effort to correct the SOC classification before it is finalized in 2017.”

Courtesy TRDaily


Andy Seybold’s PSA Discovery Patterns, July 22, 2016

NTIA Publishes State Opt-Out Guidelines:  This week NTIA released a document that will have a significant impact on states considering opting out. The NTIA’s document, for which comments are due by August 19, 2016, is entitled, “State Alternative Plan Program (SAPP) and the First Responder Network Authority Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network.” The full document can be found at

Note: A state that opts out of the FirstNet build plan needs to provide its own Radio Access Network or RAN. That is, the cell sites that will connect to the FirstNet backend or Evolved Packet Core (EPC), which is the brains of the network. I plan to file comments and I suggest any state even considering opting out at least read this document very closely. If comments are appropriate, that state should file before the deadline. I would never suggest to any state that it opt out, rather my thought is to work with FirstNet and the partner and accept the coverage being offered, perhaps with some suggested modifications. Also, make sure your state has the right to negotiate with the partner so after building the RAN in the state there will be ways to expand coverage of the network.

This could be accomplished in several ways. One would be for the FirstNet partner to agree to add the coverage because it would also give the partner better access to the spectrum on a secondary basis (more capacity). The next way would be for the city, county, or state to pay for an additional RAN and have it installed by the FirstNet partner or a qualified, pre-approved vendor. There are a number of combinations of these two that might make some sense, but I would opt for gaining the best coverage possible from FirstNet and then moving forward. Back to the Document from the NTIA My first issue is not with the NTIA document but rather with the law that spells out that the opt-out process must include several steps. According to the NTIA document, the law states, “First, a state must submit its alternative plan for the construction, maintenance, operation and improvements of its RAN to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and meet specific interoperability criteria established by the FCC.”

The FCC is then required to review the state’s plan for RAN deployment within that state and either agree or disagree based on a document that was created by the FCC and its task force several years ago. (Technical Rules for Public Safety Spectrum, In reality, FirstNet and the partner’s current plans may or may not include all of the items covered in the FCC document, but the FCC is to approve or not approve the plan based on its criteria and not the criteria of the current partner and FirstNet engineers. I see many problems with this. First, the FCC has, by law, had to have been hands-off in any planning or system design. Two, the FCC may decide to turn each state’s request into a long, drawn-out affair including public comment periods and other time-consuming investigations that could materially impact the network timeline. If the FCC does not approve the state plan, FirstNet has a green light to build the network in that state. There has to be a better way to make sure the FCC is satisfied with the opt-out plan. Continue reading

Ligado Reply Comment Deadline Extended

The FCC’s International and Wireless Telecommunications bureaus today extended until Aug. 11 in Rulemaking 11681 the deadline for reply comments on Ligado Networks LLC’s request that the agency launch a rulemaking to allocate the 1675-1680 megahertz band for terrestrial mobile use shared with federal government operations. The deadline for reply comments had been tomorrow, but Ligado sought an extension until Aug. 11. “Ligado states that a three-week extension would provide it with more time to understand the concerns of the more than 35 commenters in the proceeding and would provide commenters with additional time to understand the specific proposal in the Petition,” a public notice released today observed. “Ligado also notes that the American Meteorological Society meeting will take place next week. While it is the policy of the Commission that extensions of time shall not be routinely granted, we agree with Ligado that a brief extension for the filing of reply comments will facilitate the development of a complete record. We therefore grant Ligado’s request.”

Courtesy TRDaily

FirstNet to Hold Southwest Border Forum

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) plans to hold a southwest border forum Aug. 30-31 in Phoenix, Chris Algiere, FirstNet’s federal consultation lead, said in a blog posting. “The U.S. southern border continues to be one of the largest challenges for public safety operations at all levels of government.  The dynamic mission space, coupled with the remote landscape and environmental factors, challenges technology delivery of just about any sort,” Mr. Algiere said.

“As part of our consultation and planning for the nationwide public safety broadband network, FirstNet is holding a federal forum focused on operations along the southwest border of the United States and has plans for future forums in other regions of the U.S.  The upcoming southwest border forum is part of our plan to take consultation with federal departments and agencies beyond the headquarters and engage management, practitioners, and other staff members across the United States,” he stressed.

“The Forum will be held in Phoenix, Arizona August 30th and 31st at the Bureau of Land Management’s National Training Center.  This meeting will provide an opportunity for federal stakeholders in and around the southwest border region to engage with FirstNet through a series of presentations and breakout sessions focused on understanding the needs and challenges facing federal practitioners and what is possible with public safety broadband,” Mr. Algiere added.

“Through this meeting, we will inform federal stakeholders on the latest FirstNet developments and current efforts, expand outreach to regional stakeholders, and gain a better understanding of how to support federal border needs and the needs of their local, state, and tribal partners,” he added. – Paul Kirby,

Courtesy TRDaily