The FCC announced that the rollout schedule for the new version of the Network Outage Reporting System (NORS) platform will be conducted in two phases based on discussions with communications providers. In the first step, beginning Aug. 31, CenturyLink, Verizon and T-Mobile will be moved to the new production system. When a company is moved to the new production system, the company’s NORS users will be required to file all outage reports using the new platform and will not be permitted to use the current platform. Before a company is moved to the new platform, NORS users from that company should continue to make all required filings under Part 4 in the current version of the NORS system. Read more here: FCC Plans NORS Rollout in 2 Phases
The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) launched a smart cities initiative, which will create a technology road map to identify key upcoming network-enabled developments to assist planners in developing strategies for integrating, staging and deploying smart cities infrastructure. The initiative is designed to foster integration of municipal-focused services with expected developments in the commercial sector. The road map will cover breakthrough technologies in the context of internet of things (IoT), 5G, edge and cloud computing, spectrum considerations and infrastructure resiliency. Read more here: ATIS Launches Smart Cities Initiative
August 30, 2016–More than 600 public safety answering points (PSAPs) that cover about 20% of the U.S. population now support text-to-911 services, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in an Aug. 23 letter to Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D., N.Y.) that was released today. Mr. Wheeler also said the Commission plans to expand its outreach to state and local officials concerning the deployment of next-generation 911 (NG-911) services. Mr. Wheeler’s letter, which responded to a June 27 letter from Mr. Schumer, said, “With respect to deployment oftext-to-911 , it is important to note at the outset that the decision by individual Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) as to whether and when they will support text-to-911 is a state or local decision, not a Commission decision. I am pleased that to date, over 600 PSAPs, covering approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population, now support text-to-911 , and that many more jurisdictions throughout the nation are in the planning or implementation stages. We are working closely with state and local 911 authorities, including in New York City and elsewhere in New York State, to encourage additional text-to-911 deployment and to assist such efforts wherever possible.” Continue reading
August 30, 2016–Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey reiterated his push for a national “adult conversation” about encryption technologies and making sure that law enforcement authorities had the ability to access decrypted communications, but he predicted that debate would not resume in earnest until next year due to the prominence of the fall elections. Speaking today at an event organized by Symantec Corp., Mr. Comey largely went over old ground in calling for further national debate on law enforcement access to decrypted communications for the purpose of arriving at some middle-ground position on the issue where Americans would enjoy the benefits of strong encryption and law enforcement would have ready access to decrypted communications in the pursue of criminals and terrorists.
Mr. Comey and other Obama administration officials have been calling for such a debate and result for the past two years, and while the administration has at times sounded hopeful notes about such talks with the tech sector, it also has sworn off seeking a legislative solution to the problem. In his remarks today, Mr. Comey said law enforcement’s problem with its inability to access decrypted communications — what the FBI director has called the “going dark” problem — has only worsened in the three years since former National Security Agency contract worker Edward Snowden began leaking secrets about how the NSA conducts surveillance activities
“That dark corner of the room . . . has been spreading to more of the room,” Mr. Comey said. Continue reading
On Friday, the FirstNet Board approved a $6.585 billion budget that will support the award of the FirstNet Network contract in Fiscal Year 2017 and includes $85 million for FirstNet operations. Additional information is available in this FirstNet press release.
Also last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moved forward on two items related to the planning of the FirstNet Network. The FCC unanimously voted to release a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on the process it will use for any state or territory that chooses to deploy its own Radio Access Network, as well as an Order on the relocation of Band 14 public safety incumbents. FirstNet commended the FCC on taking these critical steps in planning for the Network in a press release.
FirstNet posted three blog entries last week: #APCO2016 Highlights Strong Commitment to Public Safety Mission; Crowdsourcing Solutions for Public Safety Communications (reposted from the Public Safety Communications Research program’s Quarterly Newsletter); and Ride along: See how mobile devices help first responders work effectively and save lives, the fifth in the series “10 Ways FirstNet Will Help Public Safety Save Lives and Secure Communities.” All blog posts are available on the FirstNet blog at: www.firstnet.gov/newsroom/blog Continue reading
The Colorado Springs (Colorado) Police Department purchased 500 body cameras from Utility. The department is expected to begin deployment in September. BodyWorn uses a smartphone embedded into the officer’s uniform, ensuring the camera remains secure, does not become dislodged and always records the full scene in front of the officer. The system automatically uploads video content to a secure cloud storage system and does not require officers to manually plug in devices to a docking station back at the precinct. Read more here:
Officers, jurisdictions, and even ordinary citizens are warming to the idea of police body wear cameras (BWCs). These cameras are worn by officers to record encounters with citizens—law-abiding and otherwise—providing a clearer view of what happened, and why, during an encounter. For video to be useful as an official record or even as evidence, it must be transmitted and stored in a manner that will ensure that it cannot be tampered with. Unlike with other evidence, video needs to pass through a network infrastructure in order to move from the field to a secure storage area—and there is no reason to assume that the networks that police use are any safer from hackers than the networks banks, government, and ordinary citizens use. Read more: Police vests go broadband: How body-worn cameras affect mission critical infrastructure
The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau has extended the freeze on accepting applications to operate in the 800 megahertz band along the U.S.-Mexico border until Feb. 1, 2017. “As of this date, many Mexico border region licensees have yet to complete their system re-tunes. Accordingly, to preserve currently vacant channels for use by these licensees and avoid potential licensing conflicts, we extend the freeze on the acceptance of non-rebanding applications for 800 MHz licenses operating in the NPSPAC Regions listed in the attached Appendix. This freeze also applies to those stations located within seventy miles of the borders of these NPSPAC Regions,” the bureau said in a public notice released today in Wireless Telecommunications docket 02-55.
“The freeze applies only to applications for new facilities or modification applications that involve a change of frequency or expand a station’s existing coverage area. Applications that do not affect frequency or coverage (e.g., administrative updates, assignments/transfers, and renewal-only applications) are not subject to the freeze,” it added. A 2012 U.S.-Mexico agreement on a shared band plan was intended to improve the ability of U.S. public safety and commercial wireless broadband licensees to use the 800 MHz spectrum in border states.
August 26, 2016–The board of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) today approved the organization’s $6.585 billion budget for fiscal year 2017 and granted the FirstNet management team more authority in making spending decisions. The bulk of the budget, $6.5 billion, is earmarked for the yet-to-be-selected winner of a contract to deploy the FirstNet public safety interoperable network using 20 megahertz of 700 MHz band spectrum allocated to FirstNet for that purpose. Another $84.6 million is for FirstNet’s operations, according to a management team presentation during a special teleconference meeting of the board and finance committee today.
FirstNet Board Chairwoman Sue Swenson emphasized during the meeting that the board is willing to work with management if adjustments in the budget are needed going forward. The budget approved today “will drive the achievement of major milestones along our Strategic Roadmap in what will be a pivotal year for FirstNet, including critical post-award priorities such as State plans and continued outreach to public safety,” Ms. Swenson said in a press statement. Continue reading
August 26, 2016–The FCC has unanimously approved a mechanism proposed by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to help public safety narrowband incumbents currently operating in the 700 megahertz spectrum allocated to FirstNet relocate to other frequencies. However, the Commission declined to impose build-out obligations on FirstNet that go beyond those specified by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. In the report and order and notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) adopted Aug. 24 and released today in Public Safety dockets 16-269, 12-94, and 06-229 and Wireless Telecommunications docket 06-150, the FCC said that the public safety spectrum provisions of the 2012 Act “provide adequate milestones to ensure rural coverage while also providing both FirstNet and the states flexibility in terms of planning for optimal network coverage. We will continue to monitor FirstNet’s buildout progress against these milestones, and expect that existing reporting obligations will be sufficient to allow the Commission to carry out its license renewal responsibilities.”
The accompanying NPRM launches “a new proceeding to seek comment on proposed procedures for administering the state opt-out process as provided under the Public Safety Spectrum Act, as well as on our implementation of the specific statutory standards by which the Commission is obligated to evaluate state opt-out applications,” the FCC said.
Regarding relocation of incumbents, the order says, “We find that prompt relocation of incumbents remains an imperative to successful deployment of the FirstNet nationwide public safety broadband network, and that certainty with respect to the timing of this process will support this goal. We also agree with FirstNet and other commenters that support the funding proposal made by FirstNet. Accordingly, we find that the process that FirstNet has proposed and the grant program it has implemented are sufficient to ensure a smooth, timely, and adequately funded transition by narrowband incumbents, while providing flexibility to all involved. Continue reading