When All Else Fails, There Is Ham Radio As I am preparing a report on the commercial and public safety communications activities during and after Harvey, Irma, and now Maria, which was the worst of the batch, I took some time to reach out to the amateur radio community to find out what they have been doing. The answer is a lot, and often! First, the Radio Relay International (RRI) organization made up of amateur radio operators who specialize in long-range communications has been busy handling health and welfare massages from the islands.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross, which has a relationship with the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL), put out a call for fifty Red Cross certified ham radio operators to travel to Puerto Rico. Tim Duffy, president of the Radio Club of America (RCA) and president of a large amateur radio supply company also played an active role. A number of hams from the United States have traveled to the islands while mainland hams have been receiving radio traffic, mostly at this point from residents who want to let their mainland family members know they are alright.
Other ham radio emergency organizations such as the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES), the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACEs) and the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARs) have all been active in the three hurricanes and in providing local communications after the storms passed. Hams man stations at Red Cross and other shelters and assist the public safety community when asked. In the case of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, they are serving another important function, that of notifying relatives on the mainland of island residents who are safe. This type of radio traffic is sent using shortwave radios that can communicate over long distances and can be set up and used with a simple wire-type antenna strung between two trees or buildings. Read the Entire Blog Here Continue reading
House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking minority member Frank Pallone Jr. (D., N.J.), communications and technology subcommittee ranking minority member Mike Doyle (D., Pa.), and oversight and investigations subcommittee ranking minority member Diana DeGette (D., Colo.) have asked Comtech Telecommunications Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Fred Kornberg to provide information about reported Comtech outages that have prevented callers from reaching 911 emergency operators. They cited reports that local officials in Ohio, Connecticut, and South Dakota have suspended or discontinued services from Comtech because of service outages. They asked that Comtech provide a briefing by Oct. 17.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration issued a notice of funding opportunity today for up to $43.5 million from the State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP) 2.0, which will help state, local, and tribal governments plan for the nationwide public safety broadband network. All states, territories, and the District of Columbia will be eligible to apply for funding regardless of their opt-in or opt-out status regarding the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).
Applications are due Dec. 28, or “on the 91st calendar day from the date that the Governor of an applicant State receives notice from FirstNet of its final State Plan, whichever is later.”
FirstNet has not provided that official notice yet, which starts the 90-day review period clock, because Commerce has yet to release funding level determinations for states that opt out of having AT&T, Inc., FirstNet’s network partner, build their radio access networks (RANs). Final state plans were posted in an online portal last week (TR Daily, Sept. 19).
NTIA awarded $116.5 million in initial SLIGP grants in 2013 to help states and territories identify public safety broadband gaps and priorities. While those awards expire in February 2018, NTIA has recovered unspent funds through a voluntary process, allowing it to create the 2.0 funding round.- Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Robinson, acting supervisor for field support services for Michigan’s Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS), offers the latest updates on the Programming and Management (PAM) Tool, which helps with the increasingly complicated job of programming two-way radios.
Read complete article here: https://www.rrmediagroup.com/Features/FeaturesDetails/FID/790
An increasing number of public-safety agencies—particularly those with smaller budgets and/or located in rural areas—are opting for land-mobile-radio technologies other than P25, according to John Lenihan, chairman of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) interoperability committee. During last week’s NPSTC meeting, Lenihan said the interoperability working group is “following the increased use of non-P25 digital formats” by public-safety agencies that cannot afford to buy P25 systems and subscriber radios.
“It just seems to be that, as grant money dries up, there’s no longer federal money for subscriber units,” Lenihan said during the NPSTC meeting. “Especially the small agencies and rural agencies are opting for less-expensive versions of radios that meet their day-to-day needs. The obvious problem with that is going to be interoperability.” Read complete article here: http://urgentcomm.com/interoperability/cash-strapped-public-safety-agencies-adopting-non-p25-technologies-increasing-frequ
More than 89% of cell sites remained out of service in Puerto Rico today, while nearly 70% remained down in the U.S. Virgin Islands due to Hurricane Maria, the FCC reported. Meanwhile, the FCC said that Puerto Rico’s main public safety answering point (PSAP) “was being taken offline yesterday” after it earlier was reported functionally normally.
“Overall, 89.3% (slightly down from 90.3% yesterday) of cell sites are out of service. All counties in Puerto Rico, except San Juan, have greater than 75% of their cell sites out of service. 29 (same as yesterday) out of the 78 counties in Puerto Rico have 100% of their cell sites out of service,” the FCC said in an outages report that uses data submitted to the Commission’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS).
In the Virgin Islands, “69.8% (slightly up from 67.0% yesterday) of cell sites are out of service. 100% of cell sites in St. John are still out of service,” the report said. Continue reading
The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International said today it opposes industry requests to delay the Nov. 1 deadline for carriers to include embedded URLs and phone numbers in wireless emergency alerts (WEAs). In an ex parte filing in PS docket 15-91 reporting on a meeting at the FCC, APCO said that as it has “previously noted, and as further confirmed during this meeting, the wireless carriers have not presented new facts or circumstances, or otherwise provided evidence that including embedded URLs and phone numbers for WEA messages would be infeasible by the November 1 deadline. Moreover, the carriers have not explained what reasonable efforts they have taken to implement these features in the year since the rules were adopted.” Continue reading
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) today delivered official notices to governors of states and territories, which started the 90-day clock for them to decide whether to opt in to the network and have AT&T, Inc., build their radio access networks (RANs), or attempt to contract to build and oversee RANs themselves. Governors have until Dec. 28 to make a decision. Twenty-four states or territories have opted in so far.
“If a state does not take any action on its updated State Plan by Dec. 28, the state will automatically opt in to the FirstNet network,” FirstNet noted in a news release today. “FirstNet will then issue a task order for AT&T to begin deploying the RAN portion of the network in the state.”
FirstNet posted final plans on an online portal last week (TR Daily, Sept. 19), but it could not deliver official notices of them to states and territories, which starts the 90-day clock for review, until getting RAN construction funding level determinations (FLDs) from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, as required by the law that created FirstNet. The funding would be used for RAN construction by opt-out states.
NTIA released the FLDs publicly late this afternoon.
“To establish each FLD, NTIA used an estimate of the number of terrestrial sites (towers) in each State and territory necessary to achieve baseline coverage objectives based on National Institute of Standards and Technology technical modeling,” the agency said. “The FLD is a range of the grant amount a State may receive through the State Alternative Plan Program (SAPP) for radio access network (RAN) construction. The document … lists the current grant amount available and the maximum grant amount for each State. Any increase in the current grant amount available, up to the maximum grant amount for each State, will depend on the total amount available for the SAPP after all States have opted in or opted out. NTIA will provide updates to States on any increased grant amounts that are available on a monthly basis and no later than five days prior to the decision date. Details regarding the grant program will be provided in the upcoming SAPP Notice of Funding Opportunity.” Continue reading
More than 90% of cell sites remained out of service today in Puerto Rico, while 67% remained down in the U.S. Virgin Islands due to Hurricane Maria, the FCC reported today. “Overall, 90.3% (slightly down from 91.1% yesterday) of cell sites are out of service. All counties in Puerto Rico have greater than 75% of their cell sites out of service. 29 (down from 31 yesterday) out of the 78 counties in Puerto Rico have 100% of their cell sites out of service,” the FCC said in an outages report that uses data submitted to the Commission’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS). “Overall, 67.0% (slightly up from 66.0% yesterday) of cell sites are out of service. 100% (up from 66.7% yesterday) of cell sites in St. John are now out of service,” the report said of the Virgin Islands.
There was no change today concerning the operational status of public safety answering points in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. “The two PSAPs in Puerto Rico are currently functioning normally according to the primary service provider,” the report said. “In the U.S. Virgin Islands, the St. Croix 9-1-1 Call Center has been reported as completely down. FEMA has reported significant damage to the building. The St. Thomas 9-1-1 Call Center is unable to retrieve Phase I and Phase II location information for wireless callers and ANI/ALI for VoIP Callers.” Continue reading
Democratic members of Congress from both chambers today unveiled a proposal for a $40 billion federal investment in broadband infrastructure that they said would bring broadband to 98% of Americans. They said they would fight to include the plan in “any infrastructure or appropriations package moving in 2017 or 2018.”
Echoing the rural electrification program of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, they dubbed their proposal “A Better Deal.” It includes direct federal support for a universal Internet grant program to close the “last mile” gap, which would be distributed on a technology- and provider-neutral basis; the creation of accurate broadband maps; the delivery of “21st century” Internet speeds; and grants for upgrading critical public safety infrastructure and implementing next-generation 911 services.
Funding would be allocated to areas “that do not presently have, and are not expected to have in a reasonable amount of time, reliable, affordable, high-speed internet,” with applications assessed to target funding “to those areas that are most in need of assistance, and the program would account for the topographic, geographic, and economic challenges in providing high-speed internet throughout the country,” according to a summary of the proposal released by the Senate Democratic Policy Communications Center. Continue reading