Andy Seybold’s PSA [Public Safety Advocate] Discovery Patterns, July 8, 2016

As you can see from the subject line we are still experimenting with our title. It now appears as though “Advocate” is a word a number of newer spam filters don’t like for some reason but we will keep trying and hopefully find a title that won’t hang up in any of your spam filters! Meanwhile, our subscriber base keeps growing and with it the number of emails we receive with comments and questions. Some emails are from people who doubt FirstNet will ever succeed, but recently many more are from people who have seen progress and are looking forward to FirstNet’s next steps. And then there are those who continue looking ahead to a time when the network is up and operational so their questions have to do with that phase of the operation.

This week one of the questions I thought was worth repeating here will hopefully elicit an answer from someone within the FirstNet community. A member of a state organization asked, “Not sure if you saw the article this week about 911 telephone providers and the FCC not releasing information on the number and duration of 911 outages because some of the information contained proprietary vendor information. Based on what I’ve seen from FirstNet so far I have serious concerns about FirstNet’s transparency and reporting of outages to users. What level of transparency and reporting do you think we will see from FirstNet on system reliability and restoration times? We provide continuous system status updates to the users of our statewide 800 system which we consider critical for a public safety grade system. Today during emergencies, we get little to no information on cell site and circuit outages from the major providers. Without this information from FirstNet in almost real-time it will be hard [to] put a lot of faith into FirstNet for primary voice communications. Maybe you could touch on this in the LMR to LTE webinar.”

I think this is a great question to be answered by the folks at FirstNet, the only thing I am not sure of is if it can be answered before the FirstNet/Public Safety partner has been chosen. But let’s see what response we get from the folks at FirstNet. I am sure this issue has been discussed at great length as they have moved forward.

FCC Auctions 1001 and 1002 Or as we have come to know them, the 600-MHz auctions. The first was the reverse auction (Auction 1001) in which TV stations that are to be relocated or cease operations (their choice) had an opportunity to tell the FCC how much money they expect to receive from the forward auction (Auction 1002) where the bidders will be incumbents and/or new organizations looking to bid on this spectrum for providing commercial broadband service. The total amount the TV stations say they want to move off the 126 MHz of 600-MHz spectrum is a whopping $86.4 Billion! (Remember, this spectrum was not purchased by any of these TV stations. They did not pay a penny for it and now it appears they expect the forward auction bidders to make them rich—oops, I guess that is an editorial comment!) In any event, if you do the math, each TV station holds a license for 6 MHz of spectrum in a given area. To come up with a nationwide clearing of that TV channel requires that all of the TV stations agree to move or clear the spectrum. If we look at the math for the reverse auction, the 126 MHz of spectrum equates to 21 TV channels. So to clear any TV channel nationwide the stations are asking for more than $4 billion per 6-MHz channel. Turning that around for the forward auction where the spectrum will be divided into segments, most bidders will be looking to obtain at least a 10 by 10-MHz swath of spectrum or 20 MHz. 20 MHz of spectrum is equal to 1.66 TV channels for the uplink and 1.66 TV channels for the downlink. So simply to pay off the TV stations for that 20 MHz of spectrum the bidding will have to start above $13 Billion.

It is interesting to note that prior to the reverse auction completion, some of the existing commercial operators thought they would be able to purchase a 10X10 block for around $10 Billion. It now appears as if the forward auction prices will have to be considerably higher and could seriously affect the number of contenders willing to bid for the spectrum. I have to think that if we had these numbers before the FirstNet RFP was released there might have been a few more responses to that RFP as the value of the FirstNet spectrum, even for secondary use, would perhaps be considered a more viable option. Those who did submit a bid to become a partner with FirstNet/Public Safety should be feeling pretty good about having responded to the RFP about now.! Have a Great Week, Andy Seybold

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