S&T Press Release: DHS S&T Calls for Anti-Jamming Technology Submissions

Washington D.C. – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) today released a Request for Information (RFI) for participation in the 2017 First Responder Electronic Jamming Exercise at Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho, July 17-22, 2017. The RFI, posted on FedBizOpps, is open to industry, academia, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, and other government organizations with innovative anti-jamming technology solutions ready for testing and evaluation. The deadline for submitting applications is January 20, 2017.

The 2017 exercise directly builds upon the findings of the 2016 First Responder Electronic Jamming Exercise, which validated the hypothesis that commercially available illegal jammers could potentially impede public safety communications. DHS S&T is seeking to evaluate technology solutions that identify, locate and mitigate the impact of jamming of communications and position, navigation and timing systems used by law enforcement and public safety organizations, such as GPS, land mobile radio systems (VHF, UHF, 700/800 MHz) and commercial wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi or cellular systems. Continue reading

FirstNet Weekly Update to the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) December 19, 2016

FirstNet News

The FirstNet Board and executive team held the Quarterly Board Meeting last week in Sacramento, California. Discussion addressed the major steps in the evolution of FirstNet as an operational entity and meeting the objectives for initial deployment of the FirstNet Network. FirstNet leadership focused on the critical work to be completed during the first 100 days post-RFP award on network design and technology roadmaps, the State Plans portal, and other network components.

The PSAC also held their winter in-person meeting in Sacramento last week. Chair Sue Swenson and Vice Chair Jeff Johnson gave opening remarks, commemorating PSAC Chair Chief (Ret.) Harlin McEwen’s service to the PSAC and FirstNet. President TJ Kennedy and CCO Rich Reed led a discussion with members about the importance of engaging their associations at this juncture in FirstNet’s progress, and the vital role the PSAC will play in the future. Additionally, the PSAC User Profiles task team met to work towards finalizing recommendations around “Day 1” profile attributes. Continue reading

FCC Allows IP Networks to Sub RTT for TTY Capability

December 16, 2016–The FCC today unanimously voted to amend its rules to allow IP (Internet protocol)-based networks to fulfill accessibility requirements by deploying RTT (real-time text) technology in lieu of supporting legacy TTY (text telephone) devices, resolving apparent disputes over whether to mandate various functionalities and attributes of RTT offerings.

The order adopted today in CG docket 16-145 and GN docket 15-178 sets a transition period for RTT implementation beginning Dec. 21, 2017, and ending in June 2021, Michael Scott, attorney-adviser in the FCC’s Disability Rights Office, said in presenting the item at today’s meeting.

The order requires RTT deployments to be backwards-compatible with TTY services and interoperable with RTT offerings on other networks.  It establishes adherence to the RFC 4013 standard as a safe harbor, Mr. Scott said.  He also said that it requires that RTT offerings have the ability to initiate and receive communications using the same 10-digit numbers used for voice and text communications. An accompanying further notice of proposed rulemaking asks about the appropriate timeline for ending the TTY backwards-compatibility requirement, Mr. Scott said.  It also asks about the need for RTT features to enable use of the technology by persons with cognitive disabilities and by deaf-blind individuals. Continue reading

Wheeler Announces Plan to Leave FCC on January 20: Discusses His Tenure at the Commission

December 16, 2016–FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said today that he plans to leave the agency on Jan. 20, 2017, the day that the Trump administration takes over. “Serving as F.C.C. Chairman during this period of historic technological change has been the greatest honor of my professional life,” Mr. Wheeler, who joined the FCC in November 2013, said in a statement. “I am deeply grateful to the President for giving me this opportunity. I am especially thankful to the talented Commission staff for their service and sacrifice during my tenure. Their achievements have contributed to a thriving communications sector, where robust investment and world-leading innovation continue to drive our economy and meaningful improvements in the lives of the American people. It has been a privilege to work with my fellow Commissioners to help protect consumers, strengthen public safety and cybersecurity, and ensure fast, fair and open networks for all Americans.”

Mr. Wheeler’s refusal at times to confirm that he would step down after the election had angered some senators and created an obstacle to the confirmation of Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel for a second term. The Senate completed its work last weekend until the 115th Congress opens next month without confirming Ms. Rosenworcel (TRDaily, Dec. 12).  As a result, Ms. Rosenworcel must leave her job when the current congress ends on Jan. 3.

Before the Senate left town, Mr. Wheeler had told Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) that he would step down immediately if it would help get Ms. Rosenworcel’s confirmed, an FCC official had said. FCC Chairmen generally leave the agency before a new administration of a different party takes over so today’s announcement is not a surprise. But there had been speculation in the media and among some FCC observers that Mr. Wheeler might remain at the agency as a Commissioner after the Trump administration came in.

If Mr. Wheeler had remained and Ms. Rosenworcel was confirmed, the Democrats would have had a 3-2 majority, even though a Republican would still presumably be chosen to lead the agency and could set the agenda. If Mr. Wheeler departed and Ms. Rosenworcel was confirmed, or Mr. Wheeler stayed and Ms. Rosenworcel was forced to leave, it would have led to a 2-2 deadlock among Republicans and Democrats. With Mr. Wheeler and Ms. Rosenworcel both leaving, Republicans will have a 2-1 majority.

One of the Republican Commissioners – Ajit Pai or Mike O’Rielly – would be expected to be named acting Chairman. By tradition, that choice typically goes to the senior Commissioner of the president’s party – who is Mr. Pai.

An FCC official said earlier this week that the Senate’s failure to vote on Ms. Rosenworcel’s nomination to another term was not surprising, citing a statement by Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) that a 2-1 Republican majority at the Commission would allow the agency to “begin to roll back the burdensome regulations it recently issued. In particular, he looks forward to working with the Republicans at the FCC and his colleagues in the Senate to reverse President Obama’s harmful regulations on broadband service providers that treat the Internet as a public utility,” an aide to the senator said last week (TRDaily, Dec. 8). Mr. Wheeler mentioned Mr. Johnson’s comment when asked during a news conference after today’s meeting if he had failed to communicate that he would step down if Ms. Rosenworcel were confirmed. He said during the meeting that the resignation he submitted to President Obama today, effective Jan. 20, “is keeping with the commitments that I have repeatedly made since March that I would cooperate with the wishes of the new administration to assure a smooth transition, and that I would follow the precedent that when the White House changes parties, the Chairman resigns regardless of the amount of time left in the term.”

He also said that in a follow-up letter from Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R., S.D.) after a September hearing, the senator included a question showing that he knew Mr. Wheeler planned to step down after the election. He said he told the senator in a private conversation that he would step down.

At a March hearing, Mr. Thune asked Mr. Wheeler if he planned to resign after the new president took office to give that person a chance to name his or her own Chairman, as the senator noted is custom (TRDaily, March 2). “It’s a ways off. I understand precedent. I understand expectations,” Mr. Wheeler replied. “It’s probably not the wisest thing in the world to do to make some kind of ironclad commitment, but I understand the point you’re making.”

Such statements did not seem specific enough for some senators. Mr. Thune told reporters after the hearing that while he supported Ms. Rosenworcel’s confirmation, Mr. Wheeler’s refusal to commit to stepping down after a new president was sworn in might be causing senators to maintain holds on her nomination. Mr. Wheeler noted today that when asked last week if he would step down immediately if Ms. Rosenworcel were confirmed, he said that he would.

Chairman “Wheeler had decided in March that he would follow Commission precedent and step down if the Republican nominee were elected,” an FCC official said today. “However, Wheeler assumed that Hillary Clinton would likely win, which meant he couldn’t give a departure date in case her team needed him to stay on as Chairman for an extra few months to help with the transition. After the election, Wheeler had conversations with Democratic leaders, who firmly told him not to announce he was stepping down because it would complicate efforts to confirm Rosenworcel. When Sen. Reid’s team reached out to say that there was a potential offer on the table if he agreed to step down immediately, Wheeler agreed.  If she gets confirmed before January 20, he will keep that promise.” Continue reading

OEC Outreach Clips: NPSTC Report Details FirstNet Agency Home Page with Local Information, Source Mission Critical Communications

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) released a report with information on a web status page for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to display locally relevant information regarding incidents and FirstNet network availability to public-safety users. The web page may also alert first responders to urgent situations, including notifications as they enter the specific geographic zone of a major incident.

NPSTC Report Details FirstNet Agency Home Page with Local Information

OEC Outreach Clips: FirstNet Continues Procurement Process During Protest, Readies Operations Plan, Source Mission Critical Communications

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) will continue to move forward with procurement and operational activities as Rivada Mecury’s pre-award protest of the request for proposals (RFP) moves through a federal court.  “We can and will continue on all aspects of the procurement, short of making the award,” FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said during a FirstNet board meeting Dec. 14.  Rivada Mercury filed a protest of the contract award with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Nov. 21, alleging that the Department of the Interior (DOI) was “arbitrary and capricious” in removing Rivada from competition for the contract award and had not followed the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). FirstNet Continues Procurement Process During Protest, Readies Operations Plan

Part 90 Petition Pleading Cycle Set

December 13, 2016–Oppositions are due Dec. 28 and replies Jan. 9, 2017 in PS dockets 13-87 and 06-229 and WT docket 96-86 in response to a Motorola Solutions, Inc., petition for partial reconsideration filed in late October (TRDaily, Nov. 1) of a part 90 FCC order released in August (TRDaily, Aug. 22). The order was adopted along with a further notice of proposed rulemaking. In its filing, Motorola said the FCC “should either postpone the effective date or, alternatively, suspend enforcement of the new rule provisions until complementary proposals affecting Section 90.548 that are subject of the Further Notice in this same proceeding are addressed in a future order.”

Courtesy TRDaily



Johnson Commits DHS to Implementing IP Enforcement Strategic Plan

December 13, 2016–Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said today that “DHS is pleased to implement the action items listed” in the U.S. Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement for fiscal years 2017 to 2019 released yesterday (TRDaily, Dec. 12).  Among the DHS action items in the strategic plan are promoting and expanding U.S. law enforcement partnerships with e-commerce platforms “to keep these legitimate platforms from unwittingly facilitating intellectual property theft,” he said.

Courtesy TRDaily


NCTA Concerned with EAS Item

December 13, 2016–NCTA expressed concerns in an ex parte filing yesterday on an Emergency Alert System item that the FCC plans to consider at its Dec. 15 meeting. In the filing in PS docket 15-94, which reported on meetings with FCC officials, NCTA said, “In particular, we discussed concerns with the proposed certification or self-inspection checklist requirement, false alert reporting requirement, and authentication and validation rules. We described, among other points in our filings, that cable systems pass through EAS messages on an automated basis and, as a technical matter, cannot determine if an EAS transmission that has the appropriate header codes and alert tone is an unauthorized message.

“With regard to a Further Notice, and consistent with past filings in the EAS docket, we expressed concern about any proposal to reverse well-established EAS all-channel override rules permitting force tuning in favor of imposing a mandatory selective override regime which would fundamentally alter existing cable EAS infrastructure,” the filing added. “We also briefly reviewed our comments related to issues that may be addressed in a Further Notice on the definition of ‘programmed channels’ under the EAS rules.” – Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

Clyburn Cites High ICS Rates, Sees Hope in Some States, Localities

December 13, 2016–In a blog post today, FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn highlighted some of the “bad practices when it comes to our nation’s inmate calling services regime,” including charges of $25 for a 15-minute inmate call in Arkansas County, Ark.  “Given that the median income of a male inmate before incarceration is $19,650, how do you suppose he (or the family left behind) can be expected to pay a phone bill that is 8800% higher than before he began his sentence? And while voice rates and usage are on the decline for the majority of consumers, charges for inmates continue to rise in most communities,” she said. Continue reading