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

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, October 26, 2017

Now That Your State Has Opted-In. As of today, 27 states and territories have opted in to FirstNet and it appears as though more are preparing to make the move. Once your state opts in, what do your local, regional, and state agencies do? There are four options:
• Keep using the network operator that is providing you with broadband service. If it is not AT&T, that is fine according to the law.
• Move over to AT&T now and start receiving the full advantages of the FirstNet ecosystem as it is rolled out over the next few years.
• Adopt a wait-and-see attitude and watch how the network evolves.
• Don’t use any broadband data and continue to rely on voice services-only as you always have.

If you are fortunate enough to be able to decide at an agency or multi-agency level, all these options need to be considered as well as pricing. However, if your city or county’s elected or appointed officials will be making the decision based on other factors, such as an existing overall contract with a broadband vendor, and/or what appear to be price differences only, the best you can do is prepare a case for the solution you think is best for your agency and work to gain support among those who will be making the decision. Hopefully, you will be able to make the decision based on the factors that most impact your agency and, of course, the price you will have to pay for the service each month. Continue reading

Bush, O’Malley Blast FirstNet, AT&T for ‘Third-World Thuggery’

FORT WORTH, Texas – Two Rivada Networks LLC board members, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R.) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D.), blasted the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T, Inc., today, suggesting that they have engaged in “third-world thuggery” and a dictatorship in their efforts to convince states to opt in and allow AT&T to build their radio access networks (RANs) as part of a nationwide public safety broadband network.

During a question-and-answer session this morning at the Competitive Carriers Association’s Annual Convention here, Messrs. Bush and O’Malley echoed complaints that Rivada executives often level against FirstNet and AT&T, FirstNet’s network partner – including that there has been a lack of transparency and accountability, resulting in many crucial details being kept secret, including exact coverage and fees and penalties that states could face if they seek to opt out and then change their minds.

Rivada lost out to AT&T for the 25-year FirstNet contract, and it is trying to convince states to opt out of the network and allow the company to build their RANs. Under the company’s business model, Rivada, using a dynamic spectrum arbitrage system, would monetize spectrum for commercial use when it is not being used by first responders.

Messrs. Bush and O’Malley suggested that states that opt in would not have any control of the network, and they said that all governors should at least issue request for proposals (RFPs) to explore their options, including partnering with Rivada.

The Rivada board members complained that states are not permitted to discuss the contents of their state plans or draft spectrum management lease agreements (SMLAs), which include the termination penalties and other fees. However, some states have. Continue reading

Correction: FirstNet Penalties, Fees

Stories in October 25’s TR Daily said that New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R.) has written to governors asking them to hold off opting in to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) system and to help press for information from federal officials on penalties and fees that states and territories could be liable for if they opt in to the network. It should have said that states and territories could be liable for the penalties and fees if they opt out.

Courtesy TRDaily

61% of Cell Sites in Puerto Rico Still Down

About 61% of the cell sites were down 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, 49.6% of cell sites remained out, including 88.9% of the sites in St. John. About 93% of the population was covered by wireless carriers.

Courtesy TRDaily