SIA Stresses Importance of Satellites After Hurricanes

The Satellite Industry Association has released a document stressing the importance of satellites before and after hurricanes. “Since the first weather satellite was launched in 1960, satellites have been helping to save lives by supporting meteorologists, federal, state and municipal disaster planning and recovery agencies, first responders and private consumers,” said Tom Stroup, president of SIA. “Over the past few months, millions of Americans in the U.S. and throughout the Caribbean have been reminded of the devastating impacts that can result from tropical cyclones.

Fortunately, satellites operate far above the earth’s surface and therefore they are uniquely qualified to reliably operate when terrestrial land-based weather radar, communications, connectivity and data services may be damaged or destroyed by weather related events.”

Courtesy TRDaily

Witnesses Set for House FirstNet Hearing

Witnesses have been announced for a First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) hearing Wednesday before the House communications and technology subcommittee. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:15 a.m. in Room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The scheduled witnesses are Mike Poth, chief executive officer of FirstNet; Chris Sambar, senior vice president–FirstNet for AT&T, Inc.; John Stevens, statewide interoperability coordinator and FirstNet state point of contact (SPOC) for New Hampshire; Robert LeGrande II, founder of the Digital Decision LLC; and Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran.

Courtesy TRDaily


Plaintiffs Seek Partial Summary Judgment in FirstNet FoIA Complaint

Plaintiffs who recently filed a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) lawsuit against the Commerce Department seeking records related to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) asked a court today to grant partial summary judgment.

The suit (“Stephen Whitaker and David Gram v. Department of Commerce,” case 5:17-cv-192) was filed in the U.S. District Court in Vermont earlier this month by Stephen Whitaker, a Vermont resident and government accountability advocate, and David Gram, a former Associated Press reporter who now works for “VTDigger,” a non-profit web-based publication that is a project of the Vermont Journalism Trust (TR Daily Oct. 6). It seeks status as a class action on behalf of everyone who has filed a FoIA request since 2012 but saw it rejected on the grounds that FirstNet is not subject to FoIA.

The motion for partial summary judgment submitted today seeks judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on two of the 18 counts “on the grounds that no genuine issue as to any material fact exists and Plaintiffs are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”

One of those counts deals with FirstNet’s refusal to process the plaintiffs’ FoIA requests. FirstNet noted in response to FoIA requests that under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which created FirstNet, the authority is exempt from FoIA. But the complaint contends that the law “did not fully exempt FirstNet from FOIA.” Continue reading

58% of Cell Sites Out of Service in Puerto Rico

About 58% of the cell sites were out of service in Puerto Rico today because of Hurricane Maria, the FCC reported, although about 64% of the population was reported covered by wireless carriers last week due to roaming agreements. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, 49.6% of cell sites remained out of service, including all sites in St. John.

About 93% of the population was covered by wireless carriers last week. “Since there are widespread power outages in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the FCC has received reports that large percentages of consumers are without either cable services or wireline service (one Puerto Rico cable company has reported that approximately 3% (up from 1% last week) of its consumers have had service restored),” the report noted. “In Puerto Rico, there are no major switches that are affected.”

Courtesy TRDaily


US President Trump Signs Executive Order To Allow States To Test Expanded Drone Use

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order allowing states and local governments to apply for waivers with the FAA that would allow for the creation of pilot programs for an expanded range of drone testing, including long-distance flights, night flights, and flights over populated areas.

The Washington (DC) Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (10/25, Laris) reports the order authorizes Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to create a program allowing state, local, and tribal governments to submit applications to create “innovation zones” to conduct the tests, with the first pilot program to be approved within one year. The Post says the innovation zones can be as large as an entire state. The Post reports the order instructs Chao, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, to take “necessary and appropriate” steps to “mitigate risks” to the public and national security when establishing the zones

FirstNet Seeks to Address ‘Misinformation’ About Process, Plans

First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth said today that the authority is working to address “misinformation” about its process and state plans, as FirstNet responded to a number of questions that have been raised recently about the terms of draft spectrum lease agreements, including termination penalties, spectrum lease fees, and charges for failing to meet subscriber milestones.

“Engaging with our stakeholders has and always will be central to everything we do at FirstNet.  Our longstanding consultation and outreach program sets us apart from other organizations, companies, and entities that work with or do business with public safety,” Mr. Poth said in a blog posting. “Since delivering the State Plans, the FirstNet team has made itself available around the clock to answer questions, help clarify any misunderstandings states or territories may have, and address some of the misinformation about both the decision process and the State Plans themselves.”

He continued, “Given where we are today in the process – with 27 states and territories having opted in and two months still remaining for the others to make their decision – FirstNet is coordinating with the states and territories to ensure they have all the information they need to make the best decision for their public safety professionals and the residents who rely on them. We are also actively consulting with public safety agencies in opt-in states to implement their plans.”

“FirstNet is working closely with the states and territories through their single points of contact and governors’ offices to help them understand the many inputs and details they must factor into their decision-making process.  In many cases, our efforts have addressed the mechanisms and risks associated with a governor’s decision to ‘opt-out’ and have the state build, operate, maintain, and improve the Radio Access Network (RAN) portion of the Network, including the Spectrum Manager Lease Agreement (SMLA) between FirstNet and an opt-out state or territory,” Mr. Poth said. Continue reading

59% of Cell Sites in Puerto Rico Out of Service

About 59% of the cell sites were out of service in Puerto Rico today because of Hurricane Maria, the FCC reported, although about 64% of the population was reported covered by wireless carriers due to roaming agreements. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, 39.7% of cell sites remained out of service, including 88.9% of the sites in St. John. About 93% of the population was covered by wireless carriers. One major switch in Puerto Rico was toll isolated.

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC Wants to See ‘Substantive Data’ In 3.5 GHz Band Proceeding

FORT WORTH, Texas – The FCC wants parties to submit “meaningful substantive data” in response to a notice of proposed rulemaking adopted by the Commission this week seeking views on whether it should modify its rules for priority access licenses (PALs) in the 3.5 gigahertz band, an FCC official said yesterday at the Competitive Carriers Association’s Annual Convention here.

Among other things, the FCC is seeking comments on whether it should modify the PAL framework so a PAL term will be 10, rather than three, years with an expectation of renewal, and PAL areas will consist of partial economic areas (PEAs) rather than smaller census tracts (TR Daily, Oct. 24).

Nese Guendelsberger, senior deputy chief of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, said during a session yesterday on low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum that the agency hopes to “make changes around the edges” of the PAL framework to better spur innovation and investment. “Hopefully, we will find the right balance,” she said.

While CTIA and larger carriers such as Verizon Communications, Inc., AT&T, Inc., and T-Mobile US, Inc., support the rule changes, wireless Internet service providers and rural wireless carriers complain that they could essentially make the spectrum a big carrier band, shutting out smaller players. Continue reading