Oklahoma Says It Doesn’t Divert 911 Funds

The state of Oklahoma does not divert 911 funds for other purposes, according to the state’s 911 coordinator. “All funds met the FCC standards and definitions for the purpose of 9-1-1,” Lance Terry said in a letter to FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly released by Mr. O’Rielly’s office today.

Mr. Terry’s letter responded to a letter that Mr. O’Rielly sent four states and three territories last month asking them to explain why they did not respond to the FCC’s most recent effort to gather data about 911 deployment, including diversions of 911 fees and surcharges (TR Daily, Feb. 20).

Six states diverted 911 funds for other purposes in 2016, according to an annual report released by the FCC earlier last month (TR Daily, Feb. 7). Continue reading

FirstNet Officials Stress Benefits of AT&T Subscribership

First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) officials today continued to tout what they said are the benefits to public safety of subscribing to their network being built by AT&T, Inc., drawing an implicit comparison with the public safety offering of Verizon Communications, Inc. At a meeting in Little Rock, Ark., today, the FirstNet board also approved changes to its bylaws and to its committee charters, received updates on AT&T’s network and FirstNet’s outreach plans, and was briefed on the establishment of an investment review process to spend funds that FirstNet receives from AT&T under a 25-year contract.

At today’s meeting, FirstNet staff and board members repeatedly praised AT&T for the work the carrier has done to fulfill – and even go beyond – the terms of its contract, which was signed nearly one year ago (TR Daily, March 30, 2017). “I believe AT&T’s being very aggressive about building those [coverage] commitments out just as soon as possible. Even though we have multiple years, they’re going to move very, very quickly to get that coverage out there to meet the expectations,” FirstNet board Chairwoman Sue Swenson said.

Echoing comments made by AT&T executives, Ms. Swenson also put in a plug for AT&T’s current coverage, which some in the public safety complain compares unfavorably to Verizon’s network. “All carriers, frankly, have pluses and minuses in terms of where they work well and where they don’t,” she said. “People, I think, have been pleasantly surprised with … the coverage and capability that AT&T has today … and that will only improve with the plans that have been committed to the states.” Continue reading

FirstNet to Update Committee Charters

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) board tomorrow is scheduled to approve updates to its bylaws and charters for its four committees. Board members also plan to approve a resolution honoring Tom Sorley, the former chair of the Public Safety Advisory Committee who died recently (TR Daily, Feb. 5), with the Harlin R. McEwen Award.

The joint meeting of the board and its committees is scheduled for 8 a.m. to noon central time. The meeting is being held in Little Rock, Ark. Meanwhile, Rep. Ryan Costello (R., Pa.) issued a statement saying he was pleased that Chester County is the first county in his state to subscribe to FirstNet. “Chester County has taken an important step forward in ensuring ubiquitous wireless service between emergency services and law enforcement officials, and across state lines during public safety disasters,” he said.

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC Gets Two Views on Heart Failure Device Waiver

The FCC has gotten two views on a waiver request that would allow a company to deploy a device that can measure lung fluid measurements for congestive heart failure patents in a non-invasive way. The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology solicited comment last month on the waiver request filed by Sensible Medical Innovations Ltd. (TR Daily, Feb. 9). The waiver would “allow the marketing and operation of its stepped frequency ultra-wideband (UWB) medical imaging and diagnostic equipment known as the ReDs System.” A public notice observed that “Sensible states that the ReDs System can provide accurate lung fluid measurements for congestive heart failure patients in a non-invasive way. The device operates over the frequency range of 1005-1709 MHz.”

In a comment filed in ET docket 18-39, the GPS Innovation Alliance said that it “appreciates and supports advances in medical technologies and the promise that SMI’s ReDS device might bring to treat congestive heart failure. The record currently before the Commission, however, fails to address questions, including how ReDS operations will impact critical GPS services. Those questions should be answered before SMI tis allowed to proceed. The GPSIA therefore respectfully requests that the Commission defer any action on the requested Waiver until SMI provides complete technical and operational information regarding its product, including the information discussed herein, and it otherwise ensures that GPS operations are adequately protected.”

But the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council said it “supports grant of the waivers requested by Sensible Medical Innovations. In offering this support, NPSTC is guided primarily by its view that a non-invasive medical system to measure lung fluid in congestive heart failure patients provides positive benefits to patients, and potentially to emergency medical service (EMS) personnel that may need to serve these patients.”

NPSTC added that “multiple technical factors including the specific frequency range used, a low duty cycle and reliance on spread spectrum technology would contribute to a low risk of interference to public safety communications. Should interference occur despite the apparent relatively low risk, NPSTC believes that Sensible Medical Innovations, Ltd. would need to take steps expeditiously to resolve the problem. Accordingly, NPSTC recommends the Commission determine whether a non-interference condition is needed if the requested waivers are granted.”- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily


NPR Reports: Medical Cargo Could Be The Gateway For Routine Drone Deliveries

One shred of solace that surfaced as hurricanes and tropical storms pummeled Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico last fall was the opportunity to see drones realize some of their life-saving potential.

During those disasters unmanned aircraft surveyed wrecked roads, bridges and rail lines. They spotted oil and gas leaks. They inspected damaged cell towers that had left thousands unable to call for help. “Drones became a literal lifeline,” former Federal Aviation Administration chief Michael Huerta told the agency’s drone advisory committee in November.

The drones used needed a special exemption from a set of FAA rules, known as Part 107, that normally require small drones to fly below 400 feet, stay within the operator’s visual line of sight and avoid populated areas.

These regulations make it hard for commercial drones to operate in the United States. But last October the Department of Transportation took a big step: It invited state and local governments to partner with universities and companies on tests to speed the integration of drones into the national airspace. The FAA is reviewing 149 proposals and plans to choose five to 10 by mid-May.

Read article here: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/03/10/592059175/medical-cargo-could-be-the-gateway-for-routine-drone-deliveries

FCC Rejects 800 MHz Band Election Rescission Request

The Policy and Licensing Division of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau released an order in WT docket 02-55 today denying a request by License Acquisitions, Inc., to rescind the election by the predecessor licensee to relocate to the enhanced specialized mobile radio (ESMR) portion of the 800 megahertz band as part of the realignment of the spectrum. The division said it treated the request like a waiver and said the company had not met the burden to be granted a waiver.

FCC Urged to Provide More Guidance on 911 Fee Diversion

The FCC should provide further guidance of what constitutes 911 fee diversion by states, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International and CTIA said in comments filed in response to a report that concluded that six states in 2016 diverted 911 fees for other purposes (TR Daily, Feb. 7).

The report by the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau said that the total amount diverted by reporting jurisdictions was $128.9 million, or about 5% of the total collected in 911/enhanced 911 fees. The report, the ninth annual document to Congress on fee diversions, said that the following states diverted 911 fees for other purposes: New Jersey, West Virginia, Illinois, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and New York. New York was the only one of the six diverting states that did not submit a report to the FCC for the report. But the Commission said that “sufficient public record information exists to support a finding that New York diverted funds for non-public safety uses.”

In its comments in PS docket 09-14, APCO urged the FCC to define NG-911 for its information collection and provide more guidance on diversions. Continue reading

Prospective FirstNet Users Urged to Negotiate Contract Terms

ORLANDO – Prospective users of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) system being built by AT&T, Inc., should negotiate rates and other terms and not simply take what they are offered, an attorney advised today. “This is an opportunity to be creative,” Alan Tilles, chairman of the telecommunications department at Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker P.A. who represents many public safety agencies, said during a session at the IWCE show here this morning. “Don’t just take what’s laid before you.”

“You have the ability to negotiate more than just price,” Mr. Tilles stressed to representatives of state and local governments.  “You should be worried with coverage. … And that is both outdoor and indoor.” Mr. Tilles advised state and local officials to consider proposing an arrangement where they offer access to public infrastructure, including cell sites and rights of way, in exchange for more favorable terms.

Earlier during the session, Guerdy Charles, a regional director for AT&T’s FirstNet program, said that his company wants to make it simple for prospective users to sign up for FirstNet service, including by offering a two-page agreement. But Mr. Tilles said that “there’s no way that everything that I’m worried about in a public safety radio system can be taken care of in two pages.” Continue reading

McGinnis, Sambar Tout AT&T Plans

ORLANDO – Kevin McGinnis, who represents the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO) on the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) board, and Chris Sambar, senior vice president-FirstNet for AT&T, Inc., today defended the plan for building and running the nationwide public safety broadband network overseen by the First Responder Network Authority.

During a NPSTC meeting held in conjunction with the IWCE show here, Mr. McGinnis, who is also a member of the FirstNet board but stressed that he was not speaking for the FirstNet board or the NASEMSO board, defended the plan to deploy one nationwide network.

“What we won is what public safety asked for initially, which is one network,” he said. “We need to dedicate ourselves to moving that forward. … I think we’re doing well.” He did not mention by name Verizon Communications, Inc., which is offering a competing public safety offering, by name.

At NPSTC’s January meeting, Mr. McGinnis criticized Verizon, suggesting that the carrier’s public safety broadband offering service pales in comparison to the FirstNet plan being offered by AT&T and complaining about statements attributed to Verizon (TR Daily, Jan. 9).

Mr. Sambar, who also did not mention Verizon by name, said that in the past couple of days, “one of those other commercial carriers” has continued “to take shots at the FirstNet network.”

“They’re all calling it a monopoly now,” he added. “This is not AT&T’s network. … It’s public safety’s network.” He added, “We’re building what you’re asking us to build.”

He noted that FirstNet must certify everything deployed by AT&T.

He added that in areas with no coverage or weak coverage, AT&T will build thousands of new cell sites, some later this year but most next year. AT&T this week also said it plans to touch more than one-third of its existing cell sites this year to add Band 14, which it plans to deploy to 95% of the U.S. population over the next five years.

Mr. Sambar also emphasized that AT&T’s public safety core is “a dedicated, physically separate network for public safety,” adding that a “virtually separated” core, a reference to Verizon’s core, is different than “physically separate” one. Verizon has defended its core, which, like AT&T’s, is scheduled for completion by the end of this month.

Mr. Sambar also said that it’s taking more time than some public safety agencies would like to sign them up for service as AT&T checks their credentials and priority level.

Mr. Sambar was asked about the timing of deploying z-axis indoor location accuracy. He said he has met with five or six vendors but said “there’s major challenges with just about all of” the technologies, including their ability to be effective when the power in a building goes out.

He said AT&T likes the NextNav LLC solution, although it needs to be tested in a building that is on fire because it uses pressure in devices, and pressure changes in buildings on fire.

Also during today’s NPSTC meeting, Paul Patrick, the interim chair of FirstNet’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), said PSAC’s early builder working group would be disbanded when its current task expires at the end of this month.

Also, David Furth, deputy chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, noted that the FCC plans to consider at its March 22 meeting a sixth further notice of proposed rulemaking in its 4.9 gigahertz band proceeding (TR Daily, March 1). He noted that a number of the proposals in the item came from NPSTC. He said that “perhaps towards the end of the year” the FCC will be “at the point where we can adopt final rules.”

Mr. Furth also noted that the FCC last month released a 700 megahertz band second report and order (TR Daily, Feb. 12), and he said that by NPSTC’s next meeting, there will hopefully be progress with the 800 MHz band interstitial channel item as well as further rebanding progress in the Mexico border region. NPSTC’s next meeting is scheduled for May 15 via teleconference. —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily