Australia Government Response to Report on Public Safety Mobile Broadband

November 24, 2016-The Minister for Communications, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, and the Minister for Justice Michael Keenan, today announced the Australian Government’s response to the Productivity Commission’s report on public safety mobile broadband (PSMB). The Australian Government requested the Commission undertake a ‘first-principles’ analysis of the best way to deliver a mobile broadband capability for the state and federal public safety agencies by 2020. The Government’s response is informed by state and territory feedback  on the report’s recommendations.

 Read Report.



FCC Seeks Comment on Tech Transition Recon Pleas from NTIA, NASUCA

November 23, 2016–Oppositions to petitions for reconsideration of the FCC’s technology transition second report and order filed by the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates with the Maine Office of the Public Advocate, the Maryland Office of the People’s Counsel, and The Utility Reform Network (TURN) and, separately, by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration are due at the FCC by Dec. 8, according to a notice in today’s “Federal Register.”  Replies to oppositions are due Dec. 19 in Public Safety docket 14-74, General docket 13-5, Wireline Competition dockets 05-25 and 13-3, and Rulemakings 11358 and 10593.

To address the special budget and procurement challenges of federal agencies as users of telecom services, NTIA has asked the FCC to “(1) clarify whether, if at all, or under what circumstances, services such as T1 and Integrated Service Digital Network (ISDN) fall within the meaning of ‘legacy voice service’; (2) reconsider its interoperability protection requirement to define a list of ‘low speed modems’ and create a presumption that devices that use such modems are entitled to interoperability protection; (3) prescribe limited testing requirements for small carriers; and (4) use its ‘public interest’ review of carriers’ section 214 discontinuance applications to promote greater information exchange and more cooperative planning between carriers and their federal customers about network transitions, to reduce the potential impact such transitions may have on critical government operations.”

NASUCA and the other consumer advocates have asked the Commission to reconsider the “technical guidance” in an appendix to the technology transition order it adopted earlier this year, which the consumer advocates say would not “preserve the Quality of Experience (‘QoE’) that consumers have come to expect from the PSTN,” or public switched telephone network (TRDaily, Oct. 11).  —Lynn Stanton,

Parties Weigh in on FCC’s NPRM Concerning PLMR Spectrum

November 23, 2016–A myriad of parties have weighed in on a notice of proposed rulemaking released by the FCC in August that the agency emphasized would expand access to private land mobile radio (PLMR) frequencies (TRDaily, Aug. 18). In particular, a number of entities say they support giving 800 megahertz band incumbents six months to apply for newly available spectrum before the frequencies are made available to others.

In the item adopted in WP docket 16-261 and Rulemakings 11719 and 11722, the FCC noted that in adopting the NPRM, it was granting “in part petitions for rulemaking submitted by the Land Mobile Communications Council proposing to amend our Rules to allow 806-824/851-869 MHz (800 MHz) band incumbent licensees in a market a six-month period in which to apply for Expansion Band and Guard Band frequencies before the frequencies are made available to applicants for new systems; and to amend Section 90.159 of our Rules to extend conditional licensing authority to applicants for site-based licenses in the 800 MHz and 896-901/935-940 MHz (900 MHz) bands.

“In addition, on our own motion but suggested by recent waiver requests, we propose to amend Section 90.35 of our Rules to make available for PLMR use frequencies that are on the band edge between the Industrial/Business (I/B) Pool and either General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) or Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) spectrum, to make certain frequencies that are designated for central station alarm operations available for other PLMR uses, and to make certain updates and corrections; and to amend Sections 90.219(d)(3) and 90.261(f) of our Rules to accommodate certain railroad operations.”

In its comments, the LMCC said it “supports many of the Commission’s proposals, but urges it to revisit certain areas where further improvements are warranted.” Continue reading

FirstNet Weekly Update to the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) – November 28, 2016

FirstNet News

Last week, FirstNet President TJ Kennedy attended the Public Safety Communications Europe (PSCE) Forum in Athens, Greece. The Forum provides an opportunity for public safety stakeholders from all over the world to hear about the latest trends in public safety communications. The primary themes of this year’s conference were Border Security, Natural Disasters, Security by Telecommunications in Transport, and Broadband. TJ gave a presentation entitled “FirstNet – Roadmap to the US First Responder’s Broadband solution.

Also last week, FirstNet and the Texas SPOC team brought the FirstNet booth to the Texas EMS Conference in Dallas. In addition, FirstNet staff and the Texas SPOC presented a FirstNet overview and update in a breakout session.

On Monday, FirstNet gave an update on FirstNet’s activities to state, local and federal officials at the New England Council for EMS in Newport, Rhode Island.

 Media Watch

*The information provided is copied as-is from the media outlet source and is not edited by FirstNet.  Links to non-Federal Government websites do not constitute endorsement of any product, service, organization, company, information provider, or content.  Clicking on non-Department of Commerce hyperlinks will direct you to websites that are not under the Government’s control.

 Urgent Communications 11/22: 10 questions people want answered when FirstNet names its contractor

While the critical-communications industry anxiously awaits FirstNet’s unveiling of the contractor that will build its nationwide public-safety broadband network, here are some key questions that interested parties hope will be addressed when the announcement is made.

 Web and Social Media

FirstNet’s social media presence grew at the normal rate this week.  Twitter gained 47 new followers, now at 4,607.  Facebook has 521 followers.  LinkedIn now has 1,770 followers.  YouTube has 360 subscribers.

AT&T, Cox Opt Out of Broadband Lifeline Program

November 23, 2016–AT&T, Inc., is opting into the forbearance relief that the FCC provided in its Lifeline modernization order earlier this year, saying that it believes its Access from AT&T discounted broadband program “is a better way for AT&T to address broadband adoption than by participating in the new Lifeline broadband program” and that it makes “little sense” to implement changes in the face of new rules that will be replaced when a new subscriber eligibility verification mechanism goes into effect.

Cox Communications has also notified the FCC that although its telecom entities have been providing Lifeline voice services in 14 states for several years, they do not offer broadband Internet access services (BIAS) and have no plans to provide Lifeline-discounted BIAS offerings in the census blocks in which they provide Lifeline voice service.  “Accordingly, Cox, on behalf of its Telecom Entities, must avail itself of the blanket forbearance relief granted in the Lifeline Broadband Order,” it said. Continue reading

NHTSA Proposes Guidelines for Electronic Devices in Vehicles

November 23, 2016–The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today released proposed guidelines to address driver distraction caused by mobile phones and other electronic devices brought into vehicles after they are manufactured. The guidelines drew concern from the consumer electronics, wireless, and auto industries. The voluntary standards would be the second phase of such guidelines. The first phase was released in 2013 and focused on devices and systems built into vehicles (TRDaily, April 23, 2013).

“As millions of Americans take to the roads for Thanksgiving gatherings, far too many are put at risk by drivers who are distracted by their cellphones,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These commonsense guidelines, grounded in the best research available, will help designers of mobile devices build products that cut down on distraction on the road.”

“NHTSA has long encouraged drivers to put down their phones and other devices, and just drive,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “With driver distraction one of the factors behind the rise of traffic fatalities, we are committed to working with the industry to ensure that mobile devices are designed to keep drivers’ eyes where they belong—on the road.” Continue reading

AT&T: Interoperability Key in Alternative State RANs

November 22, 2016–The FCC should require states that submit alternative plans to deploy a radio access network (RAN) other than one deployed by the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) partner should make a detailed showing that the RAN will be interoperable with the nationwide public safety broadband network, AT&T, Inc., said in reply comments filed yesterday. Continue reading

FTC Likes NHTSA’s Automated Vehicles Policy on Cyber, Privacy Fronts

November 22, 2016–The Federal Trade Commission said in comments filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today that NHTSA’s “thoughtful approach” in its request for comments on proposed industry guidance for highly automated vehicles will help ease the transition to fully autonomous vehicles “and usher in a new era in transportation – a new era made possible by, among other things, innovative uses of information.”

The FTC’s comments, written by Jessica Rich, director of the agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, key in on information privacy and security issues and say that it is “crucial” that vehicle makers and other entities “ensure that consumer protections are built in from the start.” The comments focused on a federal policy on automated vehicles released by NHTSA in September (TRDaily, Sept. 20). Continue reading

RTT, EAS Items on Light Tentative Agenda for FCC’s December 15 Meeting

November 22, 2016–The FCC today released a relatively light tentative agenda consisting of real-time text (RTT) and Emergency Alert System (EAS) items for its Dec. 15 meeting in the wake of a call by congressional Republican leaders for the agency to avoid taking “controversial” actions during the remainder of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s tenure (TRDaily, Nov. 15). However, the tentative agenda said other items already on circulation could be considered at the Dec. 15 meeting if they are not voted on before the meeting.

Earlier this month, Mr. Wheeler pulled nearly all items from the agenda for the Nov. 17 meeting, telling reporters that Republican Commissioners Ajit Pai and Mike O’Rielly had asked that he remove all items from the meeting agenda, which had included a controversial business data services (BDS) order – a top priority of Mr. Wheeler (TRDaily, Nov. 16 and 17). Another priority of the Chairman is a set-top box order, which was pulled from the Sept. 29 meeting agenda when Democratic Commissioners could not reach agreement on the item (TRDaily, Sept. 29). That order remains on circulation.

Mr. Wheeler is clearly hoping to get other items through in case they aren’t adopted on circulation before the meeting, in light of the fact that the Dec. 15 meeting is likely be his last, as the January meeting is currently scheduled for Jan. 28 meeting, after the Trump administration takes over. Continue reading

OEC Outreach Clips: Failing Radio System Concerns Hot Springs Emergency Officials, Source Arkansas Matters – AR

Failing radio communications have put safety at risk for emergency officials in Hot Springs.  Both the Hot Springs Fire and Police Departments have asked the city to upgrade their radio system but it would take a property tax increase.  Officials say the system is worn out, undependable and hampers emergency operations.  Poor broadcast quality and coverage issues have led both agencies to plead for the updated system.  When the Majestic Hotel burned to the ground in 2014, neither agency could communicate with each other for 72 hours.  Fire Lt. Davin Anderson said, “There’s been instances where we’re fighting fire on the inside, needing to make communications with incident command or safety officer on the outside and just unable to do it.” Failing Radio System Concerns Hot Springs Emergency Officials