FirstNet Weekly Update to the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) – January 30, 2017

FirstNet News

  • Last week, FirstNet attended the National Association of EMS Physicians 2017 Expo in New Orleans, Louisiana, holding numerous conversations with EMS physicians who lead EMS services in local communities and often drive the use of new medical technologies. Enthusiasm was high as attendees learned how FirstNet will benefit patients and the medical community in the near future. FirstNet also had the opportunity to review new software systems and apps that aggregate field EMS information and present it in usable ways at hospitals.
  • FirstNet also attended the NTIA Spectrum Managers Course in Washington, DC last week. This meeting of spectrum managers, engineers, and policy staff from federal departments and agencies gives an overview of spectrum management across the government. FirstNet staff provided an overview and an update on current activities, including consultation with federal public safety entities.
  • Also last week, FirstNet staff attended a meeting of the Southwest Border Communications Working Group in Albuquerque, New Mexico, providing a summary of consultation and data collection efforts, and the State Plans preparation and review process. Questions and discussion focused on rural coverage, network security, and cross-border communications with Mexican authorities.
  • Last Monday, FirstNet attended the Northern California Tribal Chairman’s Association meeting in Trinidad Rancheria with the California SPOC. Staff provided an overview of the State Plan process and the Governor’s decision. Tribal leaders raised several questions, including costs, considerations for collocation on existing infrastructure, and how tribal representation can be best involved.
  • FirstNet also met with the Hoopa Valley Tribe in Humboldt County, California to discuss the history of FirstNet, State Plans delivery, the Governor’s decision, and tribal consultation via the PSAC Tribal Working Group and the CalFRN Tribal Advisory Committee. Discussion focused on working with rural providers, potential investments to prepare for FirstNet services, and costs.
  • Last week, FirstNet also presented before the FirstNet Subcommittee of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) in Los Angeles, providing an overview of FirstNet and answering questions about the FirstNet timeline and how the SCAG may get involved. Other topics of discussion included costs, rural coverage, and potential impacts of FirstNet deployment.
  • On Friday, FirstNet staff presented to the Arizona Police Chiefs’ Association in Mesa.  Attendees included almost 150 chiefs of police and the Arizona Governor and his staff. There was a high level of understanding about FirstNet’s current status and activities.
  • This week, FirstNet will be participating in a meeting of the Oregon Area 9 Fire Defense Board in Hermiston; an International Association of Emergency Managers webinar; a Massachusetts FirstNet Advisory Board meeting in Framingham; the Texas Association of Regional Councils Bi-Annual Staff Training & Board of Directors Meeting in Austin; a meeting with Harford County public safety communications leaders in Forest Hill, Maryland; a New Hampshire Statewide Interoperable Executive Committee meeting in Concord; the National Sheriffs Association Winter Legislative Conference in Washington, DC; and the Alaska Fire Chiefs Association Leadership Summit in Juneau.
  • Tracy McElvaney joined FirstNet last week as the Lead Architect in Technology Planning & Development. Prior to FirstNet, Tracy spent 3 years with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Public Safety Communications Research Division (PSCR), where he served as Group Leader of the Advanced Communications Research Group. Prior to federal service, Tracy worked in multiple roles ranging from System Testing, Network Deployment, Outage Recovery, and System Engineering. He has supported new network and technology rollouts through 4 generations of digital cellular evolution in the United States, South America, and Asia. He has been recognized multiple times for his customer advocacy and quality focus.

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.

Mission Critical Communications 1/24: Smart City Study Finds Mission-Critical LTE Importance, LMR Sustainability

The nationwide public-safety broadband network being procured by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) could revolutionize public-safety communications altogether. Next-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) applications are helping increase efficiency for first responders and other agencies. The deployment of broadband LTE will eventually make it possible to transmit voice, data, pictures and video in real time. As these applications integrate with other “smart” efforts, public-safety professionals can more efficiently protect and deliver services to their communities. These communications modernizations should synchronize with other technological advancements that increase levels of service delivered to constituents. More than half (55 percent) of survey respondents specified that the most preferred model to fund public-safety communications is government grants. The development and procurement of FirstNet could be shaping this outlook.

Web and Social Media

FirstNet’s social media presence grew at the normal rate this week.  Twitter gained 39 new followers, now at 4,922.  Facebook has 656 followers.  LinkedIn now has 1,838 followers.  YouTube has 378 subscribers.


WISPA Says FCC’s CAF Phase II Decision Gives New York ‘Disproportionate Support’

January 27, 2016–Reacting to yesterday’s action by the FCC to allow the state of New York to allocate through state-level reverse auctions $170 million in Connect America Fund (CAF) support that Verizon Communications, Inc., previously declined for its New York operations (TRDaily, Jan. 26), the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association criticized the action for providing “disproportionate” support to New York.

WISPA Counsel Steve Coran said, “After robust opportunity for public input, last year the FCC adopted a CAF II framework that was truly technology neutral, and designed to harness the power of competition to deliver the most broadband, to the most Americans, at the lowest overall price.  Unfortunately, [yesterday’s] action appears to deviate from this approach by providing disproportionate support to one state at the expense of others, which will now be competing for even less federal support.  We expect the Commission to exercise the oversight necessary to ensure fair and open participation by all in the New York program, but are concerned that the action will encourage additional states to make end runs to receive off-the-top money in a manner contrary to nationwide CAF objectives.” – Lynn Stanton,

Courtesy TRDaily

Verizon Sees Increase in Requests from Police for ‘Cell Tower Dumps’

January 27, 2016–Verizon received “a substantially increased number of demands” in the second half of 2016 for “cell tower dumps,” which enable law enforcement authorities to identify the phone numbers of all devices that connected to a specific cell tower at a particular time, the company said today in its semiannual “transparency report.” “This tool is being used much more frequently by law enforcement,” the report said.  “We previously reported that in 2013 we received approximately 3,200 warrants or orders for cell tower dumps; we received 14,630 warrants or orders for cell tower dumps in 2016 (including the almost 6,000 demands we reported receiving in the first half of 2016), a substantial increase.” Continue reading

House Panel to Hold Feb. 2 NTIA Hearling

January 26, 2017–The House communications and technology subcommittee plans to hold a Feb. 2 hearing on reauthorization of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The hearing is scheduled to start at 10:45 a.m. in room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  “Given NTIA’s critical role in communications policy and the fact it hasn’t been reauthorized since 1992, it’s past time for us to take a thorough, comprehensive look at the NTIA,” said subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.). “I’m looking forward to discussing NTIA’s work on spectrum allocation, ICANN activities, and what steps we can take to ensure America remains competitive in today’s digital environment.”

The Telecommunications Industry Association has named the following officers for its 2017 board of directors:  as chair, David Heard, who is TIA’s interim chief executive officer;  as first vice chair, Mike Marcellin of Juniper Networks; as second vice chair, Glen Laxdall of Ericsson; as chairman emeritus, Mark Walker of Walker and Associates; as secretary, Betty Manetta of Asociar LLC; and as treasurer, Jennifer Pentecost Sims of Power & Telephone Supply Co.  New and reappointed members of the TIA board also include Chris Drake of iconectiv; Amy Marasco of Microsoft Corp.; Dennis Martinez of Harris Corp.; Doug Moore of Fujitsu Network Communications, Inc.; Victoria Obenshain of Panasonic Corp. of North America;  Kanchana Raman of Avion Networks, Inc.; Kevin Shatzkamer of Dell EMC; and Samech Yamany of Viavi Solutions.

Courtesy TRDaily


PEW: Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Think Data Has Become Less Secure

January 26, 2017–Nearly half of the adults in the U.S. believe their personal electronic data is less secure than it was five years ago, but significant numbers don’t follow best practices recommended by cybersecurity experts, according to a Pew Research Center survey published today.  Pew surveyed 1,040 U.S. adults and found that 49% of them believe their data had become more vulnerable in recent years.  Only 18% of respondents believe their data is more secure than it was five years ago.  A mere 12% of those queried had a “very high level of confidence” that the federal government could protect Americans’ personal information.  But 41% of respondents said they had shared their passwords with friends or family members, and 39% said they used the same, or very similar, passwords for many of their online accounts, according to Pew.

Courtesy TRDaily

AT&T Expresses Optimism About Winning FirstNet Contract

January 26, 2017–AT&T, Inc., is optimistic that it will win a contract with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to build and maintain a nationwide public safety broadband network, a company executive says. “We know that we are an approved bidder, and we’re optimistic about our opportunity, but we don’t know the answer to that yet,” John Stephens, AT&T’s chief financial officer and senior executive vice president, said during a fourth-quarter 2016 earnings call yesterday (TRDaily, Jan. 25).

Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s chairman and CEO, suggested during the call that if it wins the FirstNet contract, AT&T might accelerate the deployment of the network if Congress approves tax reforms. AT&T has said it believes there were three bidders in total for the FirstNet contract. pdvWireless, Inc., which submitted a bid on behalf of the Code3 Broadband consortium, said last October that it was notified that it was no longer in the running for the contract (TRDaily, Oct. 18, 2016), while Rivada Mercury LLC has sued the U.S. government because it says it was wrongfully excluded from the procurement process (TRDaily, Dec. 2, 2016). – Paul Kirby,

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC to Allow New York to Allocate CAF Phase II Funding Declined by Verizon

January 26, 2017–Over the partial dissent of FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, the FCC today awarded the state of New York a waiver allowing it to allocate through state-level reverse auctions $170 million in Connect America Fund (CAF) support that Verizon Communications, Inc., previously declined for its New York operations, in lieu of distributing the funding through the FCC’s own CAF reverse auction mechanism, which the Commission said would take longer.  The action was the agency’s first since the departure of former Chairman Tom Wheeler left the Republicans in the majority and the first since Ajit Pai was named Chairman earlier this week (TRDaily, Jan. 23).

Commissioner O’Rielly’s objections included the failure to obtain a commitment from New York State to stop diverting 911 fees collected from consumers to other purposes. On behalf of the state of New York, the Empire State Development (ESD) agency had asked the FCC for a waiver of agency’s rules to remove the CAF Phase II model-based funding for New York broadband connections that Verizon declined from the planned Phase II reverse auction, and to make the funding—approximately $170.4 million, according to the FCC’s Wireline Bureau—available to the state to allocate along with state funding in its own reverse auction under the state’s New NY Broadband Program (TRDaily, Oct. 13, 2016).  In a press release today, the FCC said that state funding and private investment to be combined with the CAF funding in New York would total at least $200 million. Continue reading

Public Safety Groups Express Support for Numbering Waiver

January 24 2017–Several public safety entities have expressed support for a petition filed by Onvoy Spectrum LLC asking the FCC to waive rules that impose requirements on applicants for initial numbering services (TRDaily, Dec. 20, 2016). “This request serves the public interest because Onvoy has exhausted all other reasonable means to comply with the rules, and most importantly, grant of the waiver will improve public safety by allowing an innovative solution to be offered that will enable over-the-top (OTT) mobile providers for the first time to offer consumers vitally important 9-1-1 services,” according to the company. In a petition filed in WC dockets 13-97, 04-36, and 07-243, CC docket 99-200, and PS docket 10-255, Onvoy said that its solution would enable 911 to be delivered to data-only devices using over-the-top voice-over-Internet-protocol services.

The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International said it “is encouraged by Onvoy’s efforts, because there is presently no 9-1-1 solution for such OTT mobile applications, and Onvoy appears to be addressing a number of important 9-1-1-related considerations. Accordingly, APCO believes it is in the public interest for the Commission to grant appropriate waiver relief to enable Onvoy to continue to pursue further testing of its OTT VoIP 9-1-1 solution.” Continue reading

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, January 26, 2017

FirstNet, LTE, and the Future. In June 2009, APCO International (APCO), The National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and The National Public-Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) publicly endorsed the wireless industry standard known as “Long Term Evolution” (LTE) for their envisioned Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network. Was that a good idea? What was wrong with WiMAX or UWB that Sprint and Verizon were respectively supporting or the TDD-WCDMA network New York had deployed? This week’s Advocate will examine the history of Public Safety’s selection of LTE and why it became the foundation of FirstNet.

Before FirstNet was created in February of 2012, fourth-generation wireless broadband had only begun being developed or deployed. Multiple technologies were competing in the standards bodies and in the marketplace, and back then, like all of the preceding wireless technologies, these technologies were limited to making use of one portion or band of the spectrum at a time. WiMax and the TDD-WCDMA technologies were designed for Time Division, whereas UWB and LTE used Orthogonal Frequency Division. Since then a lot has transpired and the 3GPP, the global standards body, and the vendor community has made major changes to the underlying specifications of 4G technologies that could, perhaps, be of benefit to FirstNet. However, after a period of time, it became apparent that only the LTE technology would offer the benefits that APCO, NENA, and NPSTC were looking for in their broadband network. The market agreed; by 2010, WiMAX and UWB were gone and TDD-WCDMA had only achieved a couple of deployments since the New York City network build.

A little history is in order at this point. During the days when the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) and the Public Safety Alliance (PSA) were working with Congress, the Executive Branch, and the FCC to gain access to the spectrum that is now licensed to FirstNet, one of the issues that helped convince some of those who opposed the idea of a nationwide broadband network was that during localized incidents there could be a large number of Public Safety responders from various disciplines all vying for a finite amount of spectrum in a confined area. The PSA quickly learned that LTE was designed early on to follow the Internet model of more speed in the down direction (to the device) and less from the device up to the network (up direction). Continue reading

TRDaily Correction: Pai Chairmanship

A story in the Jan. 23 TRDaily incorrectly stated when the Senate would have to reconfirm Chairman Ajit Pai or he would have to step down as a Commissioner. His term officially expired in June 2016, so he would need to be reconfirmed by the end of this year’s session of the 115th Congress in order to remain a Commissioner.

Courtesy TRDaily