Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, January 18, 2018

Interoperability:  After publishing last week’s Advocate, I received some emails and questions about the whole interoperability issue and why it is a problem for public safety and not for commercial cellular customers. The public safety community has been providing answers about interoperability for years to all who would listen and some in Congress seemed to “get it” when the bill that contained authorization for FirstNet was approved, but a number of them still do not understand the need.

It has always been difficult for those whose only exposure to voice, text, and data communications has been through their use of a cell phone and/or tablet. Commercial networks function like their wired predecessors for voice. If you want to talk to someone, you dial a 10-digit number, the phone on the other end rings, and either the person you want to talk to answers the call or it goes to voice mail. If you want to talk to multiple people at once, you need to establish a conference call, which takes even longer to set up. The advent of 2G, 3G, and 4G wireless broadband systems saw the addition of text, data, and video services but here again, you text someone by typing in their phone number and the text you want to send. If you want to watch a video, you go to a website, select a file, and it starts streaming to your phone. If you want to send a picture or video, you can send it to one person at a time if you know their phone numbers.

If this is your starting point for understanding wireless communications systems, it is no wonder you are confused about public safety’s claim that they have been unable to communicate with neighboring agencies or even between fire and police in the same city. If you can simply dial anyone, anywhere, on any network, why should public safety have this problem? The answer is a combination of the effect of spectrum allocations by government and the fact that public safety systems are designed to cover specific geographic areas. Read the Entire Post Here

Discovery Patterns Weekly News Summary Follows:

LMR licensing activity in the US reaches record-low levels in 2017, according to FCC databaseUrgent Communications
Jan 18 02:40 Overall, the FCC has approved 13,430 applications that were submitted in 2017 for new and modified licenses in the public-safety and business-industrial arenas, based on ULS data available on Wednesday. Even if all 263 of the pending 2017 license applications were granted, the number of 2017 …

ANALYSIS: Expect much smaller money in the 600 MHz
Jan 17 18:55 AT&T spent $1 billion on 600 MHz spectrum, but just announced they are selling it. In fairness, this may not mean that AT&T doesn’t want low band spectrum. They won the bid to supply First Net with a public safety broadband network and that lets them use 20 MHz of First Net’s 700 MHz spectrum when …

Cellphone jamming system tested at Maryland prisonWATE 6 On Your Side
Jan 17 16:40 FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has signaled willingness to work on the issue, telling members of Congress he would put together a working group to address “the proliferation of contraband wireless devices in prisons and the potentially devastating implications for public safety.” Williams said Justice, which …

FCC chairman: Hawaii didn’t have ‘reasonable’ safeguardsGkMen
Jan 17 07:40 The system has come under growing scrutiny in recent months, with public safety officials complaining that it requires upgrades on several fronts. Congresswoman Gabbard is with us now. Catt said. “So, there wasn’t much we could do”. Outside of the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, Gabbard said …

FCC chairman plans to boost broadband in rural AmericaAgri-Pulse
Jan 17 00:51 However, in a briefing last week, Grace Kho, the White House’s special assistant for technology, telecommunications and cybersecurity, cautioned that expanding rural broadband will take time. This is not going to be a sprint. This will be a long time of — a long process of figuring out how to exactly move …

DHS S&T and Israeli Partners Call for Proposals on Advanced First Responder TechnologiesNewswise
Jan 16 16:40 Small businesses who were awarded contracts through this partnership are working on promising cutting-edge technologies such as unmanned search and rescue systems, public safety off-network broadband communications, and a separate autonomous drone-based search & rescue solution to help …

FirstNet’s Schrier on New Public-Safety Meetings, App Interoperability and PrivacyRadioResource Media Group
Jan 16 13:53 AT&T executives will also participate in the meetings. They are not presenting or selling but determining what public safety’s needs are, he said. We’re going to listen to what their apps are today and what they need. AT&T will be at the table to ask questions. Schrier said most applications will be …

Public Safety Network: A Boon for Tower Operators in
Jan 11 08:40 Notably, in March 2017, AT&T was selected by FirstNet to build and manage the first nationwide broadband network dedicated to America’s police, firefighters and emergency medical services. As part of the 25-year contract, FirstNet will provide AT&T with a swath of 20 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz …

FCC Proposes $500M for Rural BroadbandLight Reading
Jan 18 06:30 FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to reform the universal service fund.

FCC pushes for rural broadbandBrownfield
Jan 18 05:00 The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is calling for more high-speed broadband in rural areas. Ajit Pai says there needs to be more internet access in sparsely populated areas to close the digital divide. His order would provide more than $500 million to cooperatives and small rural carriers to build more online infrastructure, create new rules to prevent abuse and reform’s the FCC’s high-cost program. Continue reading FCC pushes for rural broadband at Brownfield Ag News.

Lawmakers Blast FCC’s Mobile Broadband ProposalMediaPost Communications
Jan 17 17:00 “Without adequate service deployment and accurate data collection for both fixed and mobile, our rural and national economy will suffer,” the lawmakers add. “Every American who has ever had to ask ‘Can you hear me now?’ while on their cell phone or has had to wait for buffering when streaming a …

Wireless Narrowband Communication in the Environment of the Internet of Things and Machine toSmart Grid Demand Response
Jan 17 03:52 Salzburg Research invites to a workshop on 08.02.2018 on Wireless Narrowband Communication in the Environment of the Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine Communication. Digital transformation is finding its way into almost all areas of life and industry. The development of the Internet of

Telstra adds narrowband capability to Australia’s leading IoT networkTicker In
Jan 17 00:35 Telstra announced a major step forward in the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) in Australia with the successful deployment of Narrowband technology in its IoT Network. Telstra now offers Narrowband coverage in major Australian cities and many regional towns. This is in addition to the

Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro joins lawsuit against the FCC over net neutrality rollbackPittsburgh Post-Gazette
Jan 16 23:55 In the wake of a controversial move by the Federal Communications Commission to deregulate the broadband industry, a group of 22 attorneys general including Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania has sued the commission for its repeal of net neutrality rules. The group filed a petition for review in the …

FirstNet’s availability should ‘raise all boats,’ drive public-safety innovation, competitionUrgent Communications
Jan 16 18:40 At best, by virtue of offering a new competitive choice for public-safety communications, it will be an engine for the continued development and implementation of reliable, state-of-the-art communications technologies for first responders. The availability of FirstNet in the marketplace will raise all boats and …

FCC Attempts to Weaken Broadband StandardNo Jitter via Business Communications Review
Jan 11 06:30 By Martha Buyer Rather than hold providers accountable, the Commission wants to lower speed requirements and loosen definition of competition.

The Coming Fiber Construction BoomLight Reading
Jan 11 02:35 “Americans are frustrated with the slow pace of broadband deployment” is a sad clich. According to FCC data for 2016 (the most recent available), 21% of census blocks — home to 10% of the US population — have no provider offering fixed broadband service at the Commission’s 25/3 Mbits/s standard, …

Eshoo Stresses Need for FirstNet Interoperability

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D., Calif.), a senior member of the House communications and technology subcommittee, has expressed concern about a lack of interoperability between the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) network being built by AT&T, Inc., and other public safety networks. “The recent wildfires in Northern California and the widespread failure of wireless networks [demonstrate] the need for interoperability between networks to ensure that first responders have the tools they need to respond to emergencies and save lives,” Ms. Eshoo said in a Dec. 21 letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, National Telecommunications and Information Administration head David J. Redl, and FirstNet Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth.

Verizon Communications, Inc., has pushed to get FirstNet to commit to allowing Verizon’s planned public safety core to connect to the FirstNet core, which FirstNet and AT&T oppose, citing security and other issues. Continue reading

Localities Continue to Press for May 2019 WEA Deadline

More localities are pressing the FCC to adopt a May 2019 deadline for requiring wireless carriers to implement enhanced geo-targeting for wireless emergency alerts (WEAs). A draft order circulated for consideration at the FCC’s Jan. 30 meeting would require implementation by November 2019 (TR Daily, Jan. 9). CTIA has asked for a 36-month implementation period.

Ex parte submissions filed yesterday in PS docket 15-91 expressed support for the May 2019 deadline. One filing was submitted by the District of Columbia, while the other was submitted by four jurisdictions in Oregon: the city of Portland and Multnomah, Clackamas, and Columbia counties.The filings by the District of Columbia and the Oregon jurisdictions were largely identical. Continue reading

Pai: FCC ‘On the Ground’ in Hawaii Probing False Alert

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said today that investigators from the FCC “are on the ground in Hawaii today gathering information” in the wake of a false ballistic missile notification that was transmitted last weekend via wireless emergency alert (WEA) and the Emergency Alert System (EAS) (TR Daily, Jan. 16), while Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel also stressed the importance of preventing future false alerts and said changes should be adopted before summer. “This incident highlights the need for our alerting system to work properly and for alerts to convey accurate information to the public,” Mr. Pai emphasized this morning during remarks at a National Association of Broadcasters’ event on the role of broadcasters during emergencies. “The FCC has already begun an investigation.  We want to understand how this mistake occurred, why it took 38 minutes for the state of Hawaii to issue a correction alert, and what needs to be done to ensure that this does not happen again, in Hawaii or elsewhere.  Indeed, FCC investigators are on the ground in Hawaii today gathering information.” Continue reading

Have Your Voice Heard: Why You Should Participate in the SAFECOM Nationwide Survey

Message to Public Safety from OEC:  With great thanks to Chief Gerald Reardon, Eddie Reyes, Rosario Acevedo, Captain Chris Lombard, and Sherriff Paul Fitzgerald, a great team here at OEC, and the support of our friends at DHS Science and Technology, we are sharing a video to help you promote the SAFECOM Nationwide Survey. The theme is “Have Your Voice Heard.”.The video provides a great introduction to the survey and addresses the issue of “no one likes surveys” and explains why completing this survey is so very important for public safety. Please take a moment to view the video here and please share the link far and wide with fellow colleagues and stakeholders.  Full Web Address to Video:


Pai Stresses Need for Disaster Preparedness, NG-911 Deployment

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today stressed the importance of developing best practices to aid in improved preparedness and response to disasters, and he also called on stakeholders to work toward deploying next-generation 911 (NG-911), which he noted can help ensure more resilient and redundant networks. He also cited last weekend’s false ballistic missile alert in Hawaii in saying that emergency communications systems “shouldn’t be designed so that a single point of failure leads to a catastrophic result.”

Mr. Pai delivered opening remarks this afternoon at a Capitol Hill event organized by the NG911 Institute. He said the FCC wants to work with the NG911 Institute on emergency preparedness and response best practices and NG-911 deployment.

“We need to learn from our experiences over the last several months and develop best practices so that we’re better prepared and more effective in responding to future disasters,” Mr. Pai said. “In December, our Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau issued a Public Notice seeking input on the public and private sectors’ preparation for and response to the 2017 hurricane season [TR Daily, Dec. 7, 2017].  We want to know what worked and where we can improve service availability and restoration.  And we want to hear from all stakeholders, including the public safety community; state, local, territorial, and tribal officials; industry; consumer groups; and federal response partners.” Continue reading

Richmond Testing FirstNet System

The city of Richmond, Va., is testing the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) system being built by AT&T, Inc. The city and Fairfax County are the first localities in the state — which was the first state in the country to opt into FirstNet — to use the network. Police officers in Richmond and Richmond Department of Emergency Communications executives are testing FirstNet during day-to-day operations, said Jackie Crotts, deputy director-technology for the department.

Courtesy TRDaily


Another House Committee to Focus on False Hawaii Alert

Another House committee announced today that it plans to hold a hearing to review the false ballistic missile alert that was sent in Hawaii this past weekend (TR Daily, Jan. 16). The House Homeland Security Committee’s emergency preparedness, response, and communications subcommittee plans to hold a Feb. 6 hearing on “Ensuring Effective and Reliable Alerts and Warnings.” The hearing is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. in room 210 of the House Capitol Visitors Center. “Subcommittee members and witnesses will explore what went wrong before Hawaii’s false ballistic missile alarm and how to prevent similar occurrences in the future. The hearing will also examine proposed enhancements to Wireless Emergency Alerts, which have been useful after emergencies such as the terror attack in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood in 2016,” according to a news release. Continue reading

DHS Urged to Move Quickly, Cautiously on CDM

The Department of Homeland Security should move more quickly to deploy a network security system known as continuous diagnostics and mitigation (CDM), according to Rep. John Ratcliffe (R., Texas), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s cybersecurity and infrastructure protection subcommittee. “While I understand that setting up new government programs, buying new and advanced technologies, and deploying those technologies across a massive federal environment is not easy, the threats to federal agencies continue to grow every minute,” Rep. Ratcliffe said today at a subcommittee hearing on CDM.

“The maturity of the continuing diagnostics and mitigation program has to move at the pace of new technologies and innovations, not at the pace of bureaucracy,” he said.

A fully deployed CDM system would enable DHS to keep watch over civilian agencies’ networks and identify threats as they arise.  DHS has completed the first implementation phase and is working on buying the components and services needed for the next phase. “CDM is an ambitious program that I believe, if implemented well and over a reasonable timeline, provides the American people the kind of federal cybersecurity that they deserve,” Rep. Ratcliffe said. Continue reading

Bureau of Prisons Tests Micro-Jamming Technology in Prison

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), in collaboration with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the FCC, today “conducted a test of micro-jamming technology at the Federal Correctional Institution at Cumberland, Maryland,” according to a news release. “The test was conducted to determine if micro-jamming could prevent wireless communication by an inmate using a contraband device at the individual cell housing unit level.” The release noted that “BOP had conducted a limited cellphone jamming demonstration with NTIA in 2010, at the same field site in Cumberland supporting NTIA’s congressionally-mandated study of cellphone interdiction technologies.”

The release said that as part of today’s test, “NTIA conducted an independent evaluation of micro-jamming technology to determine its efficacy and interference potential with Radio Frequency communications.  The BOP and NTIA will review the data and analysis results from both BOP’s and NTIA’s testing and develop recommendations for strategic planning and possible acquisition.”

“Contraband cell phones in prisons pose a major and growing security threat to correctional officers, law enforcement officials, and the general public,” said Assistant Attorney General Beth Williams, who is in charge of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy.  “As criminals increase their technological capacity to further criminal activity from within prisons, we must also explore technologies to prevent this from happening.  This test is part of our ongoing efforts to find a solution.”

The news release cited the challenge that correctional institutions detecting contraband cellphones and said that “BOP will continue to evaluate cell phone detection technologies and work with its federal partners and Congress to achieve cost-effective options to combat this threat to corrections and public safety.” —Paul Kirby,

Courtesy TRDaily