Managing FirstNet Capacity
But first some exciting changes!
Public Safety Advocate: Now from a New Home!
- It will be the same blog
- It will still be written by Andrew Seybold
- It will contain the same type of content and continue to pull no punches!
- If you subscribe through andrewseybold.com or AllThingsFirstNet.com, it will continue to feature news bits of interest
What will change is the website the Public Safety Advocate will call home!
The first issue of my Public Safety Advocate was published in June of 2010. Since then I have published approximately 350 editions and the readership from our subscribers and LinkedIn continues to climb. Over that time, the news items I have attached to the blog have been graciously provided by Discovery Patterns, an interesting company that provides many different types of information sources and scans of thousands of news feeds based on key word searches. I have to say that its results leave Google in the dust when it comes to news coverage!
Where we are going
That is where we have been. Where we are going in the very near future will expand our readership even further. I recently entered into an agreement with a new website called All Things FirstNet that will be the go-to site for, you guessed it, all things FirstNet. After this edition, I will continue to email and send out my blog and news but in a slightly different manner. If you are a subscriber you will receive a thumbnail of the week’s offering and a link to see the blog on the website. On LinkedIn, I will post a notice with a link to the website and, of course, NPSTC will still have full access.
In addition to AllThingsFirstNet.com being the new home of my Public Safety Advocate, it will also contain the archives of all of the blogs I have posted so far. This site will also allow me to post other items and blogs that might impact those involved with both FirstNet and Land Mobile Radio systems. Yes, Land Mobile Radio because we know LMR is not going away and there will be connections and integrations to broadband so it too falls under All Things FirstNet.
The site will be advertising-supported but I assure you that will have no impact on my continuing to “Tell It Like It Is,” or perhaps better to say “As I See It!” I felt that after seven years of providing these weekly blogs it was time to be able to monetize my blogs but I wanted to find a way to do that without having to ask my subscribers to fund my work.
I hope all of you will stay with me and our subscriber database will continue to grow as it has every month since I started. I promise you that while there will be ads on the site to support the content and my blog, my list will NEVER be used to send out unsolicited ads or other extraneous materials. I will retain the copyright for the publication and any additional posts I make to the site, and my intention is to continue to make sure the Public Safety community is well served by those committed to providing communications services for them.
Thank you, and I will be seeing you at AllThingsFirstNet.com. I am excited about this change and hope you are too!
Managing Broadband During an Incident
When FirstNet was preparing to release its RFP we all assumed the spectrum licensed to FirstNet would be the only primary spectrum for Public Safety use and would include pre-emptive priority when the capacity was needed for an incident. However, now it appears as though AT&T has decided to provide access to all of its broadband spectrum as well as band 14. This should mean many of the issues of concern to the Public Safety communications community regarding bandwidth during an incident are not as critical as we thought they might be.
A few weeks ago I wrote about network capacity and our report that helped show that Public Safety would need more than 5 X 5 MHz of broadband spectrum since many of the incidents they will be responding to will be geographically small but could still involve large numbers of Public Safety vehicles and personnel. That is, the number of Public Safety users including vehicles could be a factor in ensuring the broadband network maintains the needed capacity during the incident.
Typically, the amount of radio traffic at an incident escalates from the time the first units are on the scene until the incident is under control. Sometimes this is accomplished in minutes, sometimes in hours, and sometimes in days. More and more incidents are being responded to by law, fire, EMS, and perhaps other types of vehicles for the incident first responders (electric and/or gas company vehicles, tow trucks, and others). Using the Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems available to them today means that normally law, fire, and even EMS are on their own channels or groups and congestion on law channels does not affect fire and EMS channels and vice versa. But with broadband, the available spectrum will be shared by all of those responding to the incident.
The issue that has not really been addressed by FirstNet or the Public Safety community (when we were to have only FirstNet spectrum) was how to manage the capacity of the system in small areas covered by only one or two cell sectors between the services. Of course, the ideal way would be to establish what in incident command structure is referred to as a unified command where all Public Safety disciplines are represented and incident commanders for each service are co-located with the others and sharing information. This would include their broadband demands, what they need, and how to make sure each agency can access the broadband network when it needs it.
But AT&T is offering much more available spectrum than simply the FirstNet 20 MHz of broadband spectrum. It also has LTE up and running on its own 700-MHz spectrum in band 17, in the AWS band 66, and WCS band 30 spectrum. It is also replacing a lot of its systems with LTE in the PCS 1900-MHz band. It is difficult to say exactly how much broadband or LTE spectrum AT&T has available in any given area but when you add the FirstNet spectrum it becomes a very healthy number in most of the United States. Add to that its agreements with rural carriers for FirstNet, and coverage in rural areas and the Public Safety community is doing well with the available spectrum.
This does not mean Public Safety can assume that during an incident it does not have to worry about the amount of capacity it uses in a given area. AT&T has to serve its existing customers even during incidents, and it has to make the network available for 9-1-1 emergency traffic. My take on AT&T’s way of building out FirstNet is that a shortage of network capacity during most types of incidents will not be an issue. However, there may be times when AT&T will have to limit the amount of non-FirstNet spectrum being made available to Public Safety. Remember, though, that when Public Safety is only using FirstNet spectrum lightly for routine tasks, AT&T can be using the spectrum to help relieve congestion on its own spectrum. In practice, the issue of who gets how much spectrum and when during times of high demand will depend on real-time analysis and will have to be managed on a real-time basis. It should also be noted that in most Public Safety incidents the amount of data from the field back up to the network will be greater than the amount of data being sent down to field units. This is typically the opposite of what commercial users experience today. During an incident that may also change as bystanders and the press decide to stream the incident somewhere such as Facebook or back to their studios for retransmission.
Spectrum Management Training
Simply put, AT&T has solved a major issue for the Public Safety community most of the time but both AT&T and Public Safety will face times when there is a need for something or someone to take control of the spectrum and make sure those at the incident have what they need, customers in and around the scene still have access to the network, and there are no delays in 9-1-1 calls.
Today the Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Communications (DHS OEC) offers a series of courses that provide those taking the courses with the title of COMML for Communications Unit Leader. The training is for LMR voice systems and includes developing plans to effectively use incident communications equipment and facilities, managing distribution of communications equipment to incident personnel, and coordinating the installation and testing of communications equipment.
However, the most important function of a COMML is to assist the Incident Commander as a person who understands how to manage complex communications requirements. For more than five years a number of us, including those at OEC, have tried to interest the Public Safety community in adding broadband network management to the COMML program. I would like to see an even more focused and perhaps shorter course to instruct local departments and jurisdictions in how to manage the broadband network. I would include AT&T in the basic training and make sure there was an expedited way to train and certify the COMMB (B for broadband) and those at AT&T who can help make on-the-fly network changes, communicate and understand each other.
As more Public Safety personnel come online with FirstNet, more applications come online and are in use, especially graphics for building plans, live video to and from scenes, and much more, demand for data will grow as it has for commercial customers. Granted there are not nearly as many Public Safety personnel as commercial users on the network but when the Public Safety community needs the bandwidth and capacity, it needs it! Someone who knows how to allocate capacity should be able to work in the field to ensure that those at the incident have what they need and that AT&T customers are not frozen out of the entire AT&T network (which I doubt AT&T would allow to happen, but it could cause some unpleasant issues).
One scenario I use to try to get the capacity issue across to people is to talk about an incident where law, fire, and EMS are all involved, video is coming and going from and to law and fire, and EMS folks are treating a number of patients and sending vitals to a trauma center. Then a doctor asks the paramedic to start an ultrasound to determine if the patient is bleeding internally. The paramedic starts the ultrasound and the data rate up to the trauma center is about 6 MBPS which, unless expected by others on the network, would cause network slowdowns or even network failures. This type of situation will turn Public Safety off when it comes to FirstNet. This means the network must not only be mission-critical for the radio portion of the network, it must be Public Safety-grade when it comes to capacity availability. This takes the training of COMMB individuals with quick and reliable access to the AT&T operations centers.
The first time the FirstNet network cannot sustain the capacity required is the last that the Public Safety community will trust it. I am concerned that any initial failures will not be caused by a lack of network capacity but by a lack of training and understanding that for the first time, Public Safety agencies at an incident are sharing spectrum they need to do their jobs. It must be managed properly so they all can have access to the spectrum when needed, AT&T customers can also have access to it, and anyone who dials 9-1-1 will be able to connect quickly!
Andrew M. Seybold ©2017 Andrew Seybold, Inc.
Now on to the news
FirstNet provides next steps for nationwide broadband network rollout – Homeland Preparedness News via Google Alerts May 24 20:20 FirstNet provides next steps for nationwide broadband network rollout …
AT&T CEO expects accelerated FirstNet buildout, promises hardening, ‘ruthless preemption’ for … – Urgent Communications via Google Alerts May 23 16:40 AT&T expects to deploy the Band 14 FirstNet public-safety LTE network much quicker than the five-year schedule included in the request for …
AT&T’s FirstNet Build Could Start Sooner Than You Think – Wireless Week via Google Alerts May 23 15:40 CEO Randall Stephenson said this week at an investor conference AT&T is aiming to kick off construction of its nationwide network for first responders …
Government of Canada continues research and targeted engagement on implementation models … – Canada NewsWire via Google Alerts May 19 22:20 This engagement and analysis will provide the opportunity to better understand the potential benefits of a Public Safety Broadband Network, and will …
FirstNet: The Wait Is Almost Over – MilTech via Google Alerts May 18 14:55 FirstNet is working to give public safety officials our own dedicated, nationwide wireless network so we won’t have to compete with private users for …
Hytera Debuts LTE-PMR Convergence Solution at CCW 2017 – Business Wire via Google Alerts May 18 08:00 Hytera’s LTE-PMR Convergence Solution comprises cutting-edge multi-mode advanced radio terminals, narrowband-broadband infrastructure, and …
Alphabet’s Access Group, Nokia among those citing 3.5 GHz progress to FCC – FierceWireless via Google Alerts May 18 07:10 … 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) continues to build as leaders in the ecosystem, including Alphabet’s Access Group and Nokia, …
AMIA Tells FCC Broadband Access Among Social Determinants of Health – Healthcare Informatics May 25 09:18 Nation’s Informatics Experts Encouraged by FCC Focus on Broadband-Enabled Health Solutions, Urges Collaboration in Promoting National Health Infrastructure
Huawei, Toshiba to work on NB-IoT for ‘smart factory’ – TA News RSS May 24 21:15 Huawei has signed a MoU with Toshiba to collaborate on the integration of NB-IoT (Narrowband Internet of Things) for the development of “smart factory” solutions. The cooperation between Huawei and Toshiba will accelerate the commercial availability of NB-IoT in a diverse range of vertical industries, supporting a range of applications and deployment scenarios as operators are looking ahead towards new business opportunities in vertical industries. Both companies will work together to develop en
Qualcomm, China Mobile Research Institute team up on Mobike trial – FierceWireless via Google Alerts May 24 15:55 The MDM9206 LTE modem is designed to support global Category M1 and NB1/GSM multimode. Qualcomm said the narrowband LTE technologies …
Cities Clamor for More Clout at FCC – Light Reading May 24 06:30 Who governs broadband in the smart city?
Frontier Communications Extends Broadband Network in West Virginia – Business Wire May 23 16:10 CHARLESTON, W. Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Frontier Communications (NASDAQ:FTR) is making enhanced broadband service available to previously unserved residents throughout West Virginia, Elena Kilpatrick, Frontier Senior Vice President of Operations announced today. Connected communities in 35 counties now may access increased speeds and services from Frontier. Over the past 18 months, Frontier has successfully leveraged the FCC’s Connect America Fund (CAF) program to bring new broadband opportunities
States are sizing up FirstNet alternatives – FedScoop via Google Alerts May 23 15:15 … Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T will present to each state a draft plan of the first nationwide wireless data network for public safety.
Cable Companies Refuse To Put Their Breathless Love Of Net Neutrality Down In Writing – Techdirt Corporate Intelligence May 23 15:13 Apparently, giant broadband providers don’t much want to put their sudden, mysterious love of net neutrality into writing. Last week, the FCC voted to begin killing net neutrality , opening the door to a 90-day comment period ahead of a broader rule-killing vote later this year. In the wake of the move, the same large ISPs that have spent a decade trying to kill meaningful regulatory oversight comically went out of their way to (falsely)…
MediaTek ready to power 4G devices on 700 MHz band – ETTelecom.com via Google Alerts May 22 15:25 … to tune LTE smartphones based on the 700 MHz band radiowaves for India which would accelerate fourth-generation (4G) adoption in the country.
AT&T: Jury is still out on NB-IoT – via Google Alerts May 22 06:58 AT&T will continue to evaluate Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) technology for its Internet of Things (IoT) strategy, but so far, it’s not seeing any big reason toÂ …
FCC Vote Kicks Off a Battle Over Regulation of the Internet – NewsFactor Network via Google Alerts May 20 09:40 A federal agency voted to kick off the repeal of “net neutrality” rules designed to keep broadband providers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from …
Huawei Releases eLTE SafeCity Solution for Public Safety – Light Reading via Google Alerts May 19 11:45 Traditional narrowband communication networks with basic voice service …
China Telecom extends narrow band IoT network across home market – Developing Telecoms via Google Alerts May 19 11:45 China Telecom has launched what it describes as the the world’s most extensive new-generation commercial narrow-band IoT (NB-IoT) network.
Trump taps House committee counsel for NTIA chief – Federal Computer Week May 19 09:12 David Redl, the chief counsel on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is President Trump’s nominee to head the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
FCC Commissioner Wants To Ban States From Protecting Consumer Broadband Privacy – Techdirt Corporate Intelligence May 18 15:07 Despite a last-ditch effort by the EFF and other consumer and privacy groups, the GOP voted back in March to kill consumer broadband privacy protections . As we noted several times , the protections weren’t particularly onerous — simply requiring that ISPs are transparent about what data they’re collecting, who they’re selling it to, and that they provide working opt-out tools. But because many of these large ISPs are busy pushing into the media sector (AT&T’s acquisition…
AT&T’s 911 outage ‘result of mistakes made by AT&T,’ FCC’s Pai says – FierceWireless via Google Alerts May 18 13:40 FCC Chairman Ajit Pai directed the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to investigate the 911 outage on AT&T’s network in March.