Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, N.D. Opt into FirstNet

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D.), Delaware Gov. John Carney (D.), Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R.), and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R.) today announced that their states will opt into the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), allowing FirstNet’s network partner, AT&T, Inc., to build their radio access networks (RANs) rather than seeking to contract with vendors to build their own RANs.

They join 39 other states and two territories that previously reached the same decision.  Massachusetts and Connecticut’s decisions bring to 14 the number of states that have opted into FirstNet after seeking proposals from both FirstNet/AT&T and other vendors.

Thus far, only New Hampshire has said it plans to opt out of FirstNet. State governors have until Dec. 28 to make opt-out decisions. The Pacific territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands face a March 12, 2018, deadline for making opt-out notifications. Continue reading

Clarification: NG 911 Call Center Bill

Due to a drafting error, the bill introduced by Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (D., Calif.), Frank Pallone Jr. (D., N.J.), and Norma Torres (D., Calif.) to support upgrades to 911 call centers (TR Daily, Dec 18) directs the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Implementation Coordination Office (ICO) to consult with the Department of Homeland Security and the National Institute for Science and Technology to “provide support to States, localities, vendors, and other entities in addressing cybersecurity issues related to Next Generation 9–1–1 services.” The intention is for the ICO to consult with DHS and the National Institute for Standards and Technology, a spokesperson for Rep. Eshoo explained to TR Daily today.

Courtesy TRDaily

Dem Steering Group Recommends Demings for House Judiciary Seat

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) announced that today the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee has recommended to the Democratic Caucus that Rep. Val Demings (D., Fla.) be appointed to a seat on the House Judiciary Committee.  Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.) the former ranking minority member of the committee, resigned from Congress earlier this month in the wake of sexual harassment allegations (TR Daily, Dec. 5), creating a vacant Democratic seat on the committee.  Rep. Pelosi noted that Rep. Demings is “a 27-year veteran of the police force who rose to become Orlando’s first female Chief of Police.”

Courtesy TRDaily

Clarifies Opt-Out States’ Obligations If RAN Fails

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) has told New Hampshire, the only state thus far to announce it is opting out of having FirstNet and its network partner, AT&T, Inc., that it is clarifying the model agreement for opt-out states to lease spectrum from FirstNet to clarify that “if the opt-out state build or operation of its RAN fails during the term of the SMLA, the state will only be responsible for the actual cost of reestablishing the RAN in the state.”

AT&T will build the RANs, or radio access networks, for opt-in states.  New Hampshire and any other states or territories that opt out will choose their own partners to build their RANs.

Some stakeholders, including state officials and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D., Calif.), had questioned the “termination fees” contemplated by the draft SMLAs provided to individual states, to reflect their individual situations. Those estimated fees ranged as high as $15 billion for California.

A FirstNet spokesperson told TR Daily today, “FirstNet has clarified the draft SMLA after consulting with the states and getting their feedback on the draft from this fall.”  The spokesperson said that FirstNet had clarified that “should the state RAN fail, the state will be responsible for the actual costs of reestablishing the network in the state, in accordance with the state’s obligations.”

State governors are facing a Dec. 28 deadline to decide whether to opt into FirstNet and having AT&T build their RANs.  So far, 38 states have opted in, along with two territories.  The Pacific territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands face a March 12, 2018, deadline for making opt-out notifications.

Brian Carney, senior vice president-corporate communications for Rivada Networks LLC, which has submitted proposals to build various states’ RANs, including a successful bid to build New Hampshire’s RAN, said in an e-mail, “The ‘draconian’ and ‘unrealistic’ threat of huge termination penalties for opt-out states have already driven a number of states to ‘opt in’ to the AT&T/federal plan. Now, nine days before the opt-in/opt-out deadline, and with no public notice so far, FirstNet is changing the rules again and withdrawing the termination-fee threat and removing the adoption-target penalties in the earlier drafts of the Spectrum Manager Lease Agreement.  This is good news, even if it may feel to many states like it comes too late. It’s a game changer that should lead every opt-in state to at least reconsider its position.”

Stephen Whitaker, a Vermont resident and open government advocate who is a party in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking FirstNet records, said in an e-mail, “Now all of the Vermont opt-in recommendations made under threats of massive SMLA penalties must be disregarded. This includes PSBNC, Televate, Tim LaFaver and State Treasurer Beth Pearce.  Public Safety User adoption count penalties? They’re gone too. What’s left to support the Governor’s opt in decision? Absolutely nothing. (except AT&T lobbying and campaign contributions)[.]” —Lynn Stanton,

Courtesy TRDaily

Illinois, Colorado Opt into FirstNet

Illinois and Colorado both announced today that they will opt into the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), allowing FirstNet’s network partner, AT&T, Inc., to build their radio access networks (RANs) rather than seeking to contract with vendors to build their own RANs.  They join thirty-six other states and two territories that previously reached the same decision.  Thus far, only New Hampshire has said it plans to opt out of FirstNet.  State governors have until Dec. 28 to make opt-out decisions.  The Pacific territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands face a March 12, 2018, deadline for making opt-out notifications.

“Opting in to the FirstNet emergency responder network is an important advance for public safety in Illinois,” said Gov. Bruce Rauner (R.). “FirstNet’s technology will help us keep important lines of communication open when we most need them.” Continue reading

Eshoo, Pallone, Torres Offer Bill to Support 911 Call Center Upgrades

Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (D., N.Y.), Frank Pallone Jr. (D., N.J.), and Norma Torres (D., Calif.) have introduced legislation to support upgrades to 911 call centers, including a five-year extension of the NG 911 grant program administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. “In addition to any funds already made available for grants under section 158 of  the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act (47 U.S.C. 942), there is authorized to be appropriated to carry out such grants such sums as may be necessary for fiscal years 2018 through 2022,” the proposed Next Generation (NG) 9-1-1 Act says.

The NG 911 Act would direct NTIA’s Implementation Coordination Office (ICO), which, like the grant program, was established by the 2004 ENHANCE 911 Act, to seek comment on and recommend changes in state and local laws to better support NG 911 deployment, as well as recommendations for additional actions the federal government could take to enhance and support NG 911 services.

Among the specific issues the bill would direct ICO to consider in the comment process are “whether there is a need for a national public safety answering points certification or credentialing process with respect to Next Generation 9–1–1 services;” whether federal and state law changes are needed to address NG 911 liability and indemnification protections, data privacy and security, and access for individuals with disabilities. Continue reading

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, December 14, 2017

News and Commentary
It has been an interesting few weeks. As of now, FirstNet/AT&T has 36 of the 56 states and territories opted in, New Hampshire has opted out, and the deadline for opting out is fourteen days away. I say for opting out since if a state opts in by December 28, that is great for FirstNet, but if states don’t make any decision they will have opted in by default. It will be interesting to see how all this shakes out over the holidays. Also, this week, Verizon, once again, has decided not to bid on a FirstNet system. In this case, it is California. Verizon stated it will not submit a proposal to the state of California because FirstNet and AT&T have the system rigged. That is the second time instead of bidding on the project Verizon has made an excuse not to bid. It now appears as though Verizon’s only desire is to keep its existing public safety customers and perhaps convince a few more to join them.

I don’t understand Verizon’s recent moves. It did not show up to bid on the RFP, after the award to AT&T it said it had looked at it but did not need the spectrum for secondary use, but that it has always supported the public safety community, which is true, at least for the past ten years. After the RFP award, during last year’s APCO conference, Verizon announced it would build a duplicate network including a core and provide Band 14 services to its public safety customers. There are two issues with that, the first being that FirstNet holds the license for Band 14 so Verizon cannot simply put its customers on Band 14. If it is really to offer Band 14, a second SIM would be required in the device and another contract would have to be in place with AT&T. The other issue is that the way the law reads there will be only one public safety core (redundant of course) and therefore every public safety user on Band 14 must be connected to that core, and it is mandated that the one core will be built, managed, and operated by AT&T. For the past few months Verizon has been quiet and now it claims it won’t bid the California RFP because FirstNet and AT&T are not playing fair. Based on what I have seen, I am not convinced upper-level management at Verizon is 100 percent onboard with these efforts.

It will also be interesting to watch New Hampshire. It appears as though the first order of business for the state is to negotiate a full contract with Rivada. I certainly hope New Hampshire protects itself against the possibility that when the losses start to pile up for the vendor, the state is not stuck with the bill. The state and Rivada now have 180 days to provide a plan to the FCC to ensure that the Radio Access Network (RAN) build-out in the state will be fully compatible with FirstNet and that it will be upgraded as FirstNet/AT&T upgrades its network. It would have been fascinating if the state had opted out earlier because then we would have a parallel course between FirstNet and the state to see how both systems are developed and built out. As it stands now, New Hampshire will be somewhat behind the curve in implementing its network simply due to the federal agencies that need to approve the RAN (FCC), award a grant (NTIA), and enter into a spectrum lease for Band 14 (FirstNet). Read the Entire Blog Here 

FirstNet gives Texas emergency workers ‘ruthless preemption’ on cellphone networksSan Antonio Express-News
Dec 13 14:00 Ruthless preemption basically processes their messages and data before all others under the First Responder Network Authority plan, or FirstNet, a national public safety broadband network run by AT&T. Preemption shifts non-emergency traffic to another line when the line becomes crowded, allowing …

AT&T launches preemption for FirstNet customersRCR Wireless News
Dec 13 12:25 That category includes fire, law enforcement, emergency medical services, emergency managers, dispatch and Public Safety Answering Points, according to AT&T. Some limited priority for public safety traffic has been offered by wireless carriers over the years, but it has typically carried extra charges …

Missouri To Opt Into FirstNetWireless Week
Dec 12 14:25 Officials from FirstNet said that their discussions with Missouri included expanding wireless coverage particularly in rural areas and allocating network assets that could be deployed as needed to support public safety. First responders in the state received immediate access to AT&T’s existing LTE …

Sununu decision on emergency responder network due todayThe Union Leader
Dec  7 06:10 In New Hampshire’s case, that would mean creating a New Hampshire network with Rivada, one of the unsuccessful bidders that pursued the FirstNet contract to build the network, which went to AT&T. The state already has a tentative contract with Rivada, depending on Sununu’s final decision, which is …

LA-RICS reaches agreement with AT&T on transfer of region’s public-safety LTE network for FirstNetUrgent Communications
Dec 14 00:25 Incorporation of the LA-RICS LTE systemthe largest early builder public-safety LTE network in the countryinto FirstNet has been a priority for LA-RICS officials. In addition, Edson repeatedly has noted that LA-RICS built its cell sites to the public-safety-grade standard established by the National …

FirstNet will better assist first responders with communication during emergenciesNTV
Dec 13 18:40 Communication between first responders in disasters and emergencies are critical when lives are in danger. National FirstNet Broadband Project was created to help enhance public safety communications and to keep first responders connected in emergency situations. “After the 9/11 attacks on our …

FirstNet launches preemption as Verizon bows out of California RFPFierceWireless
Dec 13 17:00 AT&T and FirstNet launched ruthless preemption, giving first responders top priority to its network even during times of extreme congestion. …

First state opts out as AT&T’s FirstNet proposals reach crucial final weeksxmlpush
Dec 13 15:45 With just a little more than two weeks remaining before the deadline, 36 states and territories have opted into the nationwide network for first responders that will be built by AT&T (NYSE: T). But uncertainty remains for the Dallas telecom, which is contracted by the U.S. government’s FirstNet Authority for the job: 19 states and territories have yet to announce their choice, while one recently became the first to opt-out. Last week, New Hampshire…

The Downside of Net NeutralityScientific American
Dec 13 12:35 We particularly like that the FCC is now proposing to, Restore the determination that mobile broadband is not a ‘commercial mobile service’ subject to heavy-handed regulation. Essentially, the principles of the 2015 framework aimed to ensure equal treatment of traffic passing through networks.

FirstNet activates preemption for opt-in state usersStateScoop
Dec 13 10:55 With preemption, FirstNet users will not have to compete with normal commercial mobile traffic. Instead, first responders will have access to voice, text, apps and mobile internet service, regardless of how many users in a single place are accessing AT&T’s network. The service shifts non-emergency traffic …

Commerce Files One More Response Prior to Hearing on FirstNet FOIA CaseMissionCritical
Dec 13 10:03 Attorneys for the Department of Commerce (DOC) submitted one last response to a lawsuit surrounding Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests related to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) before the case moves to a court hearing Dec. 15. read more

Results of 2017 National EAS Test Show ImprovementTV Technology
Dec 12 19:40 WASHINGTONA preliminary analysis of results from the 2017 nationwide EAS test in September show overall improvement compared to last year’s test, but the performance of TV broadcasters appears to have slipped slightly in one key area, according to a public notice from the FCC’s Public Safety …

How Much Does AT&T Stand To Gain From FirstNet?Forbes
Dec 12 15:30 Earlier this year, AT&T won a 25-year contract from the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to build and run the first broadband network that will cater …

Federal initiative to focus on broadband access for rural cancer patientsAmerican Hospital Association
Dec 14 08:15 The Federal Communications Commission and National Cancer Institute have signed a memorandum of unde…

FCC Boss Claims Net Neutrality Hurts Small ISPs, But The FCC’s Own Data Proves OtherwiseTechdirt Corporate Intelligence
Dec 14 08:15 By now we’ve noted countless times how the claim that net neutrality hurt broadband investment is indisputably false . It’s not a debate. Public SEC filings, earnings reports, and numerous CEO statements to investors (who, unlike you, they’re legally not allowed to lie to) have disproven this canard. Data suggesting otherwise usually originates with ISP-paid economists more than willing to twist, distort, cherry pick and massage the numbers until they comply with whatever message is…

Preemption services now available for FirstNet primary users in opt-in statesHomeland Preparedness News
Dec 14 08:15 Now, with the launch of preemption on FirstNet, for the first time, public safety is ensured a ‘fast lane’ to connect. FirstNet will provide reliability, confidence and ability for first responders to be able to communicate during emergency operations. Virginia was first in to opt in, and we’re all in to ensure …

Why Dish Network Needs To Roll Out Services For Its Spectrum HoldingsForbes
Dec 13 14:35 In March this year, Dish Network raised $1 billion in debt to finance wireless and spectrum-related strategic transactions. In July, reports surfaced that Dish Network and Amazon could partner to set up a narrow band Internet of Things (IoT) network. While Dish has remained tight-lipped about any …

Thales to Supply Multiband Tactical Radios to ArmyExecutiveBiz
Dec 13 09:45 IMBITR is designed to support interoperability between joint and coalition forces through narrowband, wideband and satellite communications networks. The service branch ordered the radios as part of a network modernization initiative. SFABs are tasked to assist, advise and collaborate with foreign …

Summarizing the harms of the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rulesAmerican Enterprise Institute
Dec 13 09:15 The FCC proposes to strengthen transparency provisions so that consumers and innovators have more information about their broadband connection including network management, performance, and commercial terms. Ideally, consumers will use this information to drive greater customization of …

FirstNet launches ruthless-preemption functionality for ‘primary’ public-safety subscribersUrgent Communications
Dec 12 17:40 After the carrier was awarded the FirstNet nationwide contract in March, AT&T officials vowed that preemptive access would available to primary public-safety FirstNet subscribers by the end of the year. While some public-safety entities have used commercial broadband services for years to support …

FirstNet documents reportedly leaked in VermontRCR Wireless News
Dec 12 12:40 At the time, Whitaker criticized the rejection of the FoIA request and told the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council in an email that there was a need for more transparency by FirstNet and precisely what privacy, reliability and accountability compromises we are being asked to make …

Massive IoT, the new focus of IoT standardization: 5G AmericasTelecom Lead
Dec  7 04:15 Today, Low-Power Wide-Area (LPWA) is already gaining attention and it is anticipated that cellular-based technologies such as LTE-M (Machine) and Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) will become the leading LPWA standards by 2020. This would allow operators to choose from several Cellular IoT (CIoT) …

Digital communications are revolutionising the railway businessITWeb
Dec  7 02:15 Then there is LTE’s narrowband component, a low-power, highly dedicated way to add sensors and other IOT systems to the railway without deploying a new wireless network. “It costs billions to maintain all the equipment every year,” Frisch explained.” Just saving a tiny bit of that maintenance cost will …

LA-RICS Board Approves Asset Transfer

The Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System Authority (LA-RICS) board of directors today unanimously approved an agreement on the transfer of LA-RICS’ LTE public safety broadband assets to AT&T, Inc., if the state of California opts into the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) system.

The agreement calls for LA-RICS to transfer its 20% stake in the 75 public safety grade broadband sites, including 13 cells on wheels, as well as spare equipment, to AT&T in exchange for $12 million; up to 3,300 replacement routers, SIM cards, and devices if current equipment used by the authority is not compatible with the FirstNet system; and $2.5 million in services to pay to replace and install any routers or SIM cards that need to be replaced.

The other 80% of the equipment in the LA-RICS broadband network is owned by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which in 2010 awarded LA-RICS a $154.6 million Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant to build its system (TR Daily, Sept. 28, 2010). NTIA and NTIA’s grants office at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration must approve the LA-RICS-AT&T asset transfer. Continue reading

FCC Creates Blue Alert to Aid Law Enforcement, Public

The FCC today adopted a report and order modifying the Emergency Alert System (EAS) by creating a Blue Alert to aid law enforcement officers and the public when dangerous suspects are on the loose.  “Blue Alerts warn the public when there is actionable information related to a law enforcement officer who is missing, seriously injured or killed in the line of duty, or when there is an imminent credible threat to an officer,” the FCC said in a news release. “A Blue Alert could quickly warn you if a violent suspect may be in your community, along with providing instructions on what to do if you spot the suspect and how to stay safe.”

The Blue Alert code will give state and local agencies “the option to send these warnings to the public through broadcast, cable, satellite, and wireline video providers.  Officials may also send Blue Alerts through the Wireless Emergency Alert system to consumers’ wireless phones,” the news release added.

“Today’s action supports the development of compatible and integrated Blue Alert plans throughout the United States, a goal consistent with the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015.  The Act, which is implemented by the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), directs cooperation with the FCC,” the news release said.   The Act was named for two New York Police officers killed in the line of duty three years ago. Continue reading

Correction: New Hampshire FirstNet Opt-in

A Dec. 7 TR Daily story incorrectly identified the potential recipient of between $28.8 million and $36.1 million in grant funding from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to help cover the cost of building a radio access network as part of a nationwide public safety broadband network. It would be New Hampshire, which has announced plans to opt out of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) system.

Courtesy TRDaily