Bureau Reminds Carriers of 911 Deadlines

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau issued a public notice today reminding wireless carriers to file “their certifications of compliance with the three-year E911 location accuracy benchmark as required by Section 20.18(i)(2)(iii) of the Commission’s rules.

The three-year benchmark requires CMRS providers to provide, as of April 3, 2018, dispatchable location or x/y location (latitude and longitude) within 50 meters for 50 percent of all wireless 911 calls. CMRS providers must certify compliance with this benchmark no later than June 4, 2018. We also remind CMRS providers of additional E911 location accuracy deadlines in 2018.”

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC Rejects Arguments of Tribes, Localities in Order

In a wireless infrastructure order released today, the FCC rejects arguments advanced by tribes and localities, including arguments offered in the weeks before the item was adopted last week (TR Daily, March 22).

The order says that the deployment of small cells that the wireless industry says will be needed for 5G services doesn’t constitute a “federal undertaking” under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) or a “major federal action” under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and thus are not reviewable under those laws.

In opposing the second report and order in WT docket 17-79, which was adopted over the dissents of Democratic Commissioners Mignon L. Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, tribes, localities, state historic preservation officers, and others argued, among other things, that the item exceeds the FCC’s authority, fails to acknowledge the positive role that tribes and others play in the review of wireless infrastructure, and understates the potential impact of small cells. They also complained that the item fails to adequately define a small cell. States, tribes, and localities also complained that the FCC failed to adequately consult with them on the issues in the item.

In the order released today, the FCC said “the record does not support sufficiently appreciable countervailing environmental and historic preservation benefits associated with subjecting small wireless facility deployments off of Tribal lands to historic preservation and environmental reviews.” Continue reading

Congress Urged to Pass T-Band Legislation

The Congressional Fire Services Institute is urging Congress to pass legislation to repeal a provision included in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 that would require the T-band to be reauctioned by the FCC for commercial use.

The Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act (HR 5085), introduced by Rep. Elliot Engel (D., N.Y.) last month, would repeal the provision (TR Daily, Feb. 27).

Congress required the FCC to reallocate and auction public safety spectrum in the T-band by 2021 and relocate incumbents by 2023. Proceeds from the auction can be used to cover the relocation costs of public safety licensees, but not business/industrial entities in the spectrum. The T-band encompasses TV channels 14–20 (470–512 megahertz).

Public safety agencies use the spectrum in these 11 major markets: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Washington. Ninety million people live in counties that use T-band spectrum for public safety use.

In 2013, a report by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) estimated the cost of relocating public safety T-band operations to other spectrum would be more than $5.9 billion and cited the lack of alternative spectrum (TR Daily, March 15, 2013).

“Public safety organizations use the T-Band spectrum to support both day-to-day operations and regional interoperability. Because of the mission-critical nature of the communications required, local public safety organizations have spent many years and millions of dollars in federal, state, and local taxpayer funds to plan and build out T-Band networks that are tested and designed for the operational needs in each of these metropolitan areas,” the Congressional Fire Services Institute said in its legislative outlook for the second session of the 115th Congress. “It is essential for Congress to pass H.R. 5085 and preserve the T-band for public safety operations.” —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

Pleading Cycle Set for Tribal Waiver Request

Comments are due April 27 and replies May 14 in WC docket 11-42 on a petition for reconsideration and emergency relief filed by the Oglala Sioux Tribe asking the FCC to reinstate cellular and data service to more than 1,700 residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota (TR Daily, March 26). The residents’ Lifeline service was shut off by AT&T, Inc., after the residents failed to recertify their eligibility. Earlier this month, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau granted a prospective waiver of the recertification deadline, allowing an additional 150 days beyond the normal 60 days provided for recertification (TR Daily, March 14). In its petition filed last week, the Oglala Sioux Tribe asked the Commission to amend its partial waiver order so it is retroactive.

Courtesy TRDaily

CSRIC Offers Guidance on Network Security

Better network monitoring and information-sharing are needed to mitigate vulnerabilities in a communications protocol used in wireless networks and by Internet of things devices, an FCC advisory committee said today. The FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) approved a report from its working group 3 (WG3), which has been looking at network vulnerabilities associated with the Diameter protocol.

WG3’s chairman, Travis Russell, director-cybersecurity at Oracle Communications, compared the group’s work to a similar CSRIC effort to enhance the security of Signaling System 7 (SS7), a 1970s-era technology widely used to connect wireline phone calls (TR Daily, Oct. 26, 2017).

Diameter contains similar vulnerabilities as SS7, Mr. Russell said, and is being used for wireless communications, although he noted that Diameter had not been widely adopted.  Globally, many wireless operators are still using SS7 to enable roaming, and Diameter has not been implicated in any cybersecurity incidents, he said. “Unlike SS7, we haven’t seen a whole lot of attacks in the wild,” Mr. Russell said at today’s CSRIC meeting.  “In fact, we have seen none. We have seen reports that some of the vendors have been putting out that they see suspect traffic. But suspect traffic can also be a misconfiguration of a node, which nine times out of 10, that’s what it is.”

Still, Diameter offers a variety of avenues for hackers to gain access to users’ accounts, intercept voice calls and data transmissions, and track user locations, he said.  Many of those attack vectors can be closed off by properly configuring networks using Diameter, he said. Continue reading

Open Letter from Verizon on Its New Public Safety Private Network Core

NPSTC Leadership: Today, Verizon announced the availability of its dedicated Public Safety Private Network Core.  This dedicated public safety core is the centerpiece of expanded products and services designed to enhance Verizon’s 4G LTE network for public safety’s use.  A copy of today’s news release is attached.

I also wanted to take the time to address some issues that have been raised in previous NPSTC meetings regarding Verizon’s plans and its communications to public safety agencies and organizations.  Some have criticized Verizon for its decision not to bid on the FirstNet RFP, its decision to provide a public safety network solution in competition with AT&T and/or the way it has communicated certain aspects of its plan.  I fully understand why some may react in this way, and I want to address those issues directly.

First, on a personal note, I want to say how much I respect NPSTC, the various organizations that lead its efforts, and all those individuals that have dedicated their careers to protecting and serving the public.  I have a special admiration and respect for those individuals that formed the Public Safety Alliance and led public safety’s efforts on Capitol Hill to establish FirstNet and get the spectrum and funding necessary to support a nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN).  Most of these individuals continue to work in various capacities to help ensure that FirstNet succeeds.  I was proud to be able to lead Verizon’s efforts in supporting public safety as it worked to create FirstNet, and it was a pleasure to work with and support such dedicated individuals.

I was also hopeful that Verizon would ultimately be directly involved in helping FirstNet build the NPSBN.  While that did not happen, I don’t think that anyone familiar with Verizon’s position was surprised at the outcome.  Verizon has a long history of serving first responders, and our commitment to continue to serve them has not waivered.  We understand that first responders demand and expect a higher level of service for their communications, and our networks, our services, and our operational support are designed to meet those expectations.  However, the business case for FirstNet’s RFP really hinged on the ability to commercialize the B14 spectrum while also serving public safety.  Verizon has never been interested in commercializing the B14 spectrum, and we simply couldn’t make the business model work to support FirstNet’s preferred approach.

Verizon’s decision not to bid on the RFP, however, in no way diminishes our commitment to public safety, as evidenced by today’s announcement.  Verizon intends to continue to make investments in our network and provide the products, services, and support that our public safety customers want.  While the availability of public safety networks other than FirstNet’s may not be what some expected, I believe it will ultimately make public safety stronger.  Competition has always been the key driver in advancing innovation and ensuring that customer needs and expectations are satisfied.  The fact that the nation’s two largest communications companies are making substantial investments in public safety is a true testament to the accomplishments of FirstNet.  While Verizon may not be FirstNet’s network partner, we remain committed to the FirstNet vision that public safety created more than a decade ago; a vision of effective, reliable, and interoperable communications whenever and wherever first responders need it.  Verizon’s executive team and the thousands of Verizon personnel that support our first responder customers everyday stand ready to assist public safety in achieving this important goal.

Should you have any questions about today’s announcement, or any other aspect of Verizon’s commitment and service to public safety, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Respectfully,

Don Brittingham, Vice President, Public Safety Policy, Verizon