FirstNet Delivers Official Notices to States; Governors Have Until Dec. 28 to Opt Out

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 Still Out in Puerto Rico

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

Democrats Unveil $40 Billion Broadband Infrastructure Proposal

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

FirstNet Prepares Official Notices to States, Territories

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) today prepared official notices to governors of final state and territory plans after receiving from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration funding level determinations (FLDs) for states that opt out of having AT&T, Inc., build their radio access networks (RANs). FirstNet posted final plans on an online portal last week (TR Daily, Sept. 19), but it could not deliver official notices to states and territories, which starts the 90-day clock for review, until getting the FLDs from Commerce, as required by the law that created FirstNet. The funding would be used for RAN construction.

“We are preparing the official notices, which includes NTIA’s FLDs, to send to the governors tonight, for arrival tomorrow,” a FirstNet spokesman said late this afternoon.

Funding levels will be released once they have been received by governors, according to an NTIA spokesman. Continue reading

Verizon Defends Interoperability, Security of Public Safety Network

Verizon Communications, Inc., said today that the broadband service it is offering to first responders will be interoperable with the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) system, even though its public safety core will not interconnect with the core maintained by AT&T, Inc., FirstNet’s network partner. Verizon also said that its network will be secure.

Verizon announced its plan last month, saying that it would offer priority service and preemption to public safety customers, and that it would build a dedicated public safety core (TR Daily, Aug. 15). “Verizon’s planned dedicated public safety network will complement the proposed FirstNet network and provide a robust communications solution for first responders across the country. It will also ensure they continue to have the right to choose their communications provider and to benefit from the continued innovation that comes from a competitive marketplace,” Michael Maiorana, senior vice president-public sector for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, said in a LinkedIn posting today. “Central to delivering on that promise is providing public safety with communications networks that are interoperable and secure. Continue reading

NIST Nominee Focuses on Cybersecurity, FirstNet

Walter Copan, President Trump’s nominee to head the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), said during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing today that cybersecurity and the development of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) will be among his top priorities for the organization if he is confirmed to the post. “I believe that the contributions that NIST has made recently with the development of the cybersecurity framework for this nation is an essential underpinning for national security and economic security,” he said. “Every day we hear more examples of the risks that our infrastructure, our data, our systems, and our corporations face. If confirmed, I look forward to leading this organization to further develop and communicate the cybersecurity framework, as well as adapting tools to the changing competitive landscape for both economic reasons as well as national security reasons.” Continue reading

Louisiana Opts in to FirstNet

Louisiana became the 24th state or territory to opt in to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) system today. “The entire State of Louisiana will benefit from this decision,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards (D.). “From natural disasters like flooding and hurricanes, to other planned events like Mardi Gras, hosting Super Bowls or other large sporting events, Louisiana has many unique times when communications systems can become strained. We will be working with our partners at FirstNet and AT&T on this communications network which means deploying a true interoperable nationwide system for public safety.

The sharing of instant information will only become more critical in the future. There is a lot to be done, but the system will ultimately help protect our citizens and first responders.” Meanwhile, Georgia has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for an alternative to the plan delivered by FirstNet (TR Daily, June 19). Proposals are due Oct. 24.

Courtesy TRDaily