ACT Urges States to Opt In to FirstNet

ACT, which represents apps developers, urged states today to opt into the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) system. “When Congress first introduced the public safety network idea in 2012, they intended to establish a unified and interoperable wireless broadband network to support the innovative apps that serve public safety interests across the country. For this reason, the framework Congress created strongly encourages states to opt into a federal system and requires detailed and intense vetting of states that wish to opt-out of this federal system,” said Brian Scarpelli, ACT’s senior policy counsel, in a blog posting.

“We know first-hand that interoperability requirements alone do not guarantee the free flow of data between systems,” he added. “For example, many of our members continue to face impediments to data interoperability in the healthcare industry, despite the best intentions of the 2009 HITECH Act that created America’s electronic health records incentive program. Differences in hospital record systems lead to lack of choice, higher prices, disingenuous tolling of data flows, and — ultimately — an extremely unhappy user base. It is imperative that we learn from our mistakes and avoid these negative outcomes and setbacks for our first responders.

“For this reason, the App Association strongly supports states opting in to the federal public safety broadband network to best enable their first responders to protect public health and safety,” Mr. Scarpelli added. “We take issue with the positions of organizations like the Competitive Carriers Association that frame state opt-outs as an enhancement of the network, which is a serious misinterpretation of the clear path Congress has laid for first responder communications and would undermine the nationwide public safety network’s success. It is a national priority to ensure our country’s first responders can do their job as best they can, especially during our times of need. We will continue to advocate for a unified and interoperable nationwide platform to save lives and protect our country.”

Seven states have opted in so far, saying they will allow AT&T, Inc., FirstNet’s network partner, to build their radio access networks (RANs) rather than attempt to contract with a vendor to build their own. —Paul Kirby,

Courtesy TRDaily

From the FCC’s Daily Digest for July 27, 2017

Released:  07/27/2017.  PUBLIC SAFETY AND HOMELAND SECURITY BUREAU ANNOUNCES WORKSHOP ON IMPROVING SITUATIONAL AWARENESS DURING 911 OUTAGES. (DA No.  17-719)  Public Notice Announcing September 11, 2017 Workshop on Best Practices and Recommendations for Improving Situational Awareness During 911 Outages.

On Monday, September 11th, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau will host a public workshop to discuss best practices for improving situational awareness during 911 outages.  Topics addressed in the workshop will include how to strengthen Public Safety Answering Point 911 service outage notifications and how to best communicate with consumers about alternative methods of accessing emergency services.  The workshop will be held in the Commission Meeting Room at FCC Headquarters, 445 12th Street, SW Washington, DC 20554.  Further details regarding the workshop participants, roundtable discussion topics, and times will be announced by a subsequent public notice.

Audio/video coverage of the meeting will be broadcast live with open captioning over the Internet from the FCC’s web page at  The FCC’s webcast is free to the public.

Contact:  James Wiley at (202) 418-1678, email:

West Virginia Opts In to FirstNet

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (D.) announced today that his state will opt in to having AT&T, Inc., the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) network partner, build a radio access network (RAN) in its state. It becomes the seventh state to opt in. “FirstNet and AT&T are really stepping up to help West Virginia and we are all grateful for their efforts to expand coverage for our first responders and our communities,” said Gov. Justice. “Our people will be safer because of this incredible initiative and it gives our state a launch pad for new jobs. I applaud AT&T for their commitment to a service area footprint that enhances coverage in West Virginia. Competitive pricing and the opportunities this will bring for future investment are limitless. The FirstNet network is a step toward putting West Virginia’s first responders on the leading edge.” Continue reading

FCC Plans to Move Quickly on FirstNet Interoperability Matrix

The FCC plans to act quickly to decide the merits of an interoperability compliance matrix submitted by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), Roberto Mussenden, an attorney-adviser in the Policy and Licensing Division of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, told the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council today during a meeting held via teleconference. “We’re planning to move expeditiously on it,” said Mr. Mussenden, noting that comments were recently submitted on the matrix (TR Daily, July 18).

An order adopted last month setting procedures for Commission review of alternative state FirstNet plans instructed the Public Safety Bureau to seek comments on the matrix in an expedited fashion (TR Daily, June 22 and 23).

Also during today’s NPSTC meeting, FirstNet board member Kevin McGinnis said that the authority planned to soon release a tribal consultation plan. He noted that a report released last week by the Government Accountability Office said FirstNet should improve its tribal consultation process and assess the staffing needs of its Network Program Office before it takes over sole responsibility for managing its 25-year contract with AT&T, Inc., its network partner (TR Daily, July 20). Mr. McGinnis, who has been the board’s tribal liaison, noted that FirstNet has faced challenges consulting with tribes because the law that created FirstNet required consultation to take place through FirstNet state points of contact (SPOCs).

Mr. McGinnis said the relationship between FirstNet and AT&T is good, although he noted that there has been some confusion in the public safety community over AT&T’s “product offerings” for its current network compared to its products and services for FirstNet. “That gets quickly addressed,” he said.

Tom Sorley, chair of FirstNet’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), said the PSAC is having discussions with AT&T on the PSAC’s previous reports and other work products “about what we meant by them when we created them.”

At today’s meeting, the NPSTC board also approved a radio interoperability best practice on channel assignments and assigned a new work item on a naming sequence for LTE talk groups to its common naming channel working group.

Also, Dereck Orr, chief of the Public Safety Communications Research Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, said the PSCR is ready to start planning for a multi-year location-based services grant challenge program.

The next meeting of the NPSTC is scheduled for Sept. 6 in Washington. —Paul Kirby,

Courtesy TRDaily

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, July 27, 2017

FirstNet Coverage During the quest to obtain enough nationwide broadband spectrum for public safety, the Public Safety Alliance (PSA) and its member organizations worked industriously to convince members of the U.S. Congress and their staffs, the FCC, and the Executive Branch of the federal government that public safety needed more broadband spectrum than had been assigned to them (10 MHz, 5X5 MHz). The result of this multi-year effort was that Congress listened and in the legislation that created FirstNet, public safety was assigned 20 MHz (10X10 MHz) of spectrum (referred to as Band 14). This spectrum is in the 700-MHz band adjacent to the Public Safety Land Mobile Radio spectrum on one side and Verizon’s 700-MHz spectrum on the other side. It is ideal for longer range and better in-building penetration.

It was always assumed by the public safety community that the winning bidder of the FirstNet RFP would, of course, build out the FirstNet spectrum nationwide. Even with a full 20 MHz of spectrum to which public safety has pre-emptive access, there were still some concerns from a number of us that during an incident contained in a small area served by only one or two cell sectors, there would still be times when the network reached its maximum capacity. When AT&T won the contract and became the partner for FirstNet, it did not specify its build-out plans publicly. However, at the recent Senate Sub-committee, AT&T’s plans for the build-out were presented to those on the committee and picked up by the press. AT&T’s decision is to build out FirstNet spectrum where it is needed for capacity but nowhere else (See Urgent Communications ). Read the entire blog HERE The Discovery Patterns News Recap for the week is below: Continue reading

SAFECOM-NCSWIC Summer 2017 Quarterly Newsletter Published

The SAFECOM-NCSWIC Quarterly Newsletter was published on July 24, 2017. In this edition of the newsletter, Ron Hewitt, Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) Director, provides updates on the Communication Unit (COMU) Working Group’s recent leadership meeting, the SAFECOM Guidance, the Nationwide Communications Baseline Assessment, OEC’s Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program, and more! Updates are also provided by Chief Gerald Reardon, SAFECOM Chair, and Joe Galvin, National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) Vice Chair.

SAFECOM and NCSWIC Monthly Bulletins Published. Each month, SAFECOM and NCSWIC publish monthly bulletins highlighting committee activities and initiatives. The latest monthly bulletins can be found here.

SAFECOM-NCSWIC Blog: The blog recently highlighted the publication of several SAFECOM and NCSWIC documents, including the NCSWIC Planning, Training, and Exercise Committee’s COMU Personnel Position Task Book Sign-Off Process Template; the Funding and Sustainment Committee’s SAFECOM Guidance Frequently Asked Questions: Understanding Project 25 Standards and Compliance and Life Cycle Planning Tool; and the Identity, Credential, and Access Management (ICAM) Working Group’s documents on Trustmark and ICAM. The Southwest Border Communications Working Group also provided updates on outcomes from its recent meeting on May 23-24, 2017.

The SAFECOM-NCSWIC Blog serves as a great tool for information sharing and dissemination.  On the blog, we highlight current events, activities, accomplishments, updates, opinion pieces, and innovative ideas from the SAFECOM and NCSWIC community.  If you have relevant public safety communications information you would like to share with the public safety stakeholder community, please send ideas to the SAFECOM Inbox or NCSWIC Inbox.

SAFECOM aims to improve emergency response providers’ inter-jurisdictional and interdisciplinary emergency communications interoperability across local, regional, tribal, state, territorial, international borders, and with Federal government entities.

The NCSWIC, through the Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), promotes and implements strategies for achieving effective public safety communications by developing professional partnerships and collaborating with public safety agencies and policy makers.

Support provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications. Points of view or opinions expressed are those of the originators and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of DHS.


From FCC’s Daily Digest July 26, 2017

RAVI’S IMPORT WAREHOUSE, INC., DALLAS, TEXAS.   The Enforcement Bureau proposes a monetary forfeiture of $22,000 against Ravi’s Import Warehouse,  Inc., for operating a jammer in apparent violation of Sections 301, 302(b), and 333 of the Act, and Sections 2.805(a) and 15.1(c) of the Commission’s rules. Action by:  Regional Director, Region Two, Enforcement Bureau. Adopted:  07/25/2017 by NAL. (DA No. 17-677).  EB


S&T Press Release: DHS S&T Selects Cyber Apex Solutions for Applied Cybersecurity Research

Washington, DC – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) awarded a five-year Other Transaction Agreement (OTA), with a maximum value of $70 million, to Arlington, Virginia-based Cyber Apex Solutions, LLC, to facilitate applied research of prototype cyber-defenses for critical national infrastructure sectors. Through this OTA contract S&T will fund testing, evaluation and transition of prototype cybersecurity technologies that will reduce risk of cyberattacks to critical infrastructure sectors, beginning with the financial services industry. S&T will enter into projects with members of a consortium established by Cyber Apex Solutions through individual project agreements.

Cyber Apex Solutions will work closely with the S&T Next Generation Cyber Infrastructure Apex (NGCI Apex) program, administered by S&T’s Cyber Security Division (CSD). “The increase in the frequency and severity of cyberattacks on the nation’s financial services sector are a major national concern,” said Acting DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology William N. Bryan. “The applied research spearheaded through this innovative agreement will result in stronger cyber-defenses for this critical part of the national economy.”

Established in 2016, the NGCI Apex program is enabling DHS S&T, the Department of Treasury and major financial services entities to work jointly to address cybersecurity concerns. Initially, the NGCI Apex program will focus on deployment and transition of cutting-edge technologies for the financial sector. In subsequent phases, the tools and technologies developed will be adapted to address a broader set of critical infrastructure sectors, including the government, energy and communications sectors. 

NGCI Apex will focus on delivering enhanced cyber capabilities to the nation’s leading financial entities in five key areas: dynamic defense, network characterization, malware detection, software assurance and insider threat. Cyber-gaps within these broad areas will be identified and defined by the Cyber Apex Review Team (CART), a group of chief information security officers and cybersecurity experts from financial institutions as well as representatives of the Treasury Department and DHS S&T. 

Once a gap is identified, the NGCI Apex program will work with Cyber Apex Solutions, which is building a consortium of cybersecurity researchers, companies and academics, to locate consortium members that already have developed possible solutions and technologies. DHS S&T will provide selection guidance to Cyber Apex Solutions on awardee(s) for each research project and jointly with the company will manage the prototyping, piloting, deployment and transition phases.

“This OTA provides a streamlined, fast-track approach to identifying and modifying existing cybersecurity technologies for financial services sector applications,” said NGCI Apex Program Manager Eric Harder. “In this way, Cyber Apex Solutions in essence will be acting as a clearinghouse for cyber technologies by working with consortium members to modify, test and evaluate their products’s capabilities against the needs and requirements provided by the CART membership.” 

CSD is part of S&T’s Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency. Its mission is to enhance the security and resilience of the nation’s critical information infrastructure and the Internet by developing and delivering new technologies, tools and techniques to defend against cyberattacks. The division conducts and supports technology transitions and leads and coordinates research among the cybersecurity R&D community, which includes DHS customers, government agencies, the private sector and international partners. For more information about its work, visit 


From the S&T Blog: Keeping Communication Lines Open

This past week, I joined my team in Idaho Falls, Idaho for JamX 17. This jamming exercise, held at the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory, gave us the opportunity to evaluate solutions to a threat that can leave responders in the dark in regard to communications—possibly escalating already dire situations.

The proliferation of jamming devices led us to look more closely at how they could impact responder communications. Last year, we held an exercise in White Sands, New Mexico to understand the problem. We assessed jamming vulnerabilities to responder communications systems and published an after action report (you can request a copy by contacting:

Building off of our work from last year, JamX 17 focused on the technologies and tactics that can be used to thwart jamming devices in the public safety sector.

Using test scenarios with nearly 300 participants from over 100 federal, state and local public safety and private sector organizations, the goal of JamX 17 was to help responders recognize, respond to, report and resolve jamming incidents. By evaluating these solutions, we can say with more certainty, how responders can be more resilient to the threats of jamming. Continue reading

NTIA Group OKs Guidance for Informing IoT Device Users about Security Upgrades

Guidance on how manufacturers of Internet of things (IoT) devices should communicate with consumers about security upgrades for those devices was adopted during a June 18 virtual meeting of a multistakeholder process organized by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The four-page document approved by the group advises providers of IoT devices to “consider communicating to consumers prior to purchase” whether a device can receive security upgrades, how those upgrades will be delivered, and the date on which the device will no longer receive upgrades.

“The ideal level of detail and the method of communication may differ across manufacturers, software providers, and product and service categories, as well as across buyer types,” it says.  “These voluntary communications may evolve over time as threats, solutions, and products change, and as needed to be consistent with consumers’ familiarity, expectations, and security needs.” Continue reading