CBRS Progress Outlined on Standards, Certification, Brand

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) advocates today outlined progress that has been made on developing standards, a certification program, and a commercial brand to deploy devices in the 3.5 gigahertz band, even though spectrum access systems (SASs) and environmental sensing capability (ESC) databases have not yet been approved by the FCC and the Commission is considering modifying its rules for priority access licenses (PALs).

The Wireless Innovation Forum and the CBRS Alliance held a workshop here this afternoon in conjunction with the 2018 Connectivity Expo, which was organized by the Wireless Infrastructure Association.

The technology-neutral WInnForum has developed 10 standards to facilitate the baseline deployment of commercial operations in the CBRS spectrum (TR Daily, Jan. 31), while the alliance, which is focused on CBRS use cases and business opportunities, has established a certification program for LTE equipment using the band and the OnGo brand (TR Daily, May 8). Representatives at today’s workshop said the groups complement each other. Continue reading

Pai, Minow Call for Moving Ahead on Telemedicine

In an op-ed article in the “Boston Globe” today, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and former Chairman Newton Minow highlighted the benefits of telemedicine for rural areas and the obstacle that the digital divide poses to achieving those benefits.  “It’s time we integrated communications technology into our health care system just as fully as we have in other parts of our lives,” they wrote.

They added, “Both of us have different perspectives and may disagree on many issues and policies at the FCC. But on the importance of developing telemedicine, we share the same determination to move forward. Recent advances in communications technology could enable millions of Americans to live healthier, longer lives. Achieving that result requires forward-thinking policies on telemedicine. We’re firmly committed to helping America adopt those policies and bringing our health care system more fully into the digital age.”

Courtesy TRDaily


DHS Releases FY 2018 Grant Funding Notice

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen today announced the release of fiscal year 2018 notices of funding opportunity for eight preparedness grant programs totaling more than $1.6 billion. The funding includes $402 million for the State Homeland Security Program and $580 million for the Urban Area Security Initiative.


PSAP Service Outage Notification Recommendations Completed

The Alliance for Telecommunication Industry Solutions Network Reliability Steering Committee, in conjunction with the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, the National Association of State 911 Administrators, and the National Emergency Number Association, today announced the completion of recommendations to improve carrier notifications to public safety answering points (PSAPs) in the event of service outages.

“The document is specifically intended to guide providers of all types that report service impacting outages to the PSAP community. In addition, this effort is intended to educate the public safety community on the types of outages that may occur and the information that may be available from the provider,” according to an ATIS news release. “The goal was to create a template to deliver the necessary information that is consistent in nature to ease consumption by the PSAP while providing information that is pertinent and actionable.  A separate work effort will include Best Practices for collecting, managing, and utilizing PSAP and carrier contact information to ensure timely delivery of outage-related information.”

“This resource presents consensus-driven expert insight to help service providers and Public Safety organizations communicate critical information in the rare event that an outage occurs,” said ATIS President and Chief Executive Officer Susan Miller. “The template and definitions contained within are the product of a working group that includes representation from carriers, third party providers, 9-1-1 industry associations, and the PSAP community.”

“APCO is pleased to have collaborated with industry representatives and colleagues in public safety to achieve a consensus-based resource for wireless service outage notifications,” said APCO Executive Director and CEO Derek Poarch. “This effort will standardize the content and presentation of outage reports in a manner that will greatly benefit PSAPs. Public safety telecommunicators will receive timely, easily understood, and actionable information to assist them with carrying out their life-saving missions.”

“NASNA is pleased to have had the opportunity to work alongside APCO, NENA and the members of the ATIS Network Reliability Steering Committee to help improve the outage notification process,” said NASNA Executive Director Evelyn Bailey. “The new process standardizes the format of outage notifications and gives 9-1-1 authorities and PSAPs clear information so that they know what, if anything, they need to do.”

“NENA is enthused at these significant improvements to the wireless service outage notification process and at the collaborative spirit of the public safety and industry organizations involved,” said NENA CEO Brian Fontes. “This effort gives PSAPs and telecommunicators access to clear, standardized information on service outages; a result that will undoubtedly save lives and improve 9-1-1.”- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily



FCC Reaches Consent Decree for Operating on Public Safety Spectrum

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau released a consent decree today with a man who operated on spectrum licensed to the Michigan Public Safety Communications Network.  An order implementing the consent decree noted that Cameron Thurston of Grayling, Mich., pleaded guilty this year to one felony count of unauthorized access to a computer and one felony count of using a computer to commit a crime. But the court refrained from entering judgment and it will close the case without entering a conviction if he complies with the terms of a two-year diversion program.

Among other things, the court considered that he is 19 and provided authorities information about how he gained access to the MPSCS. “To settle this matter, Thurston (a) admits that, over a two-year period, he illegally operated on, and caused interference to, the MPSCS;7 (b) agrees not to operate on, or to cause interference to, the MPSCS in the future; (c) surrenders his amateur radio license for cancellation, with an agreement not to apply for a new amateur radio license for two years; and (d) will pay a $3,000 civil penalty,” the bureau said in its order in file no. EB-FIELDNER-17-00025806. “However, Thurston will pay an additional civil penalty of $17,000 if in the next twenty years the Commission finds that he operates on, or causes interference to, the MPSCS, or otherwise violates the terms of the Consent Decree or the Diversion Program.”

Courtesy TRDaily


EWA Director-Spectrum Solutions

The Enterprise Wireless Alliance has hired Bette Rinehart as director-spectrum solutions. “Most recently, Ms. Rinehart has been delivering consulting, spectrum research and licensing services to public safety and enterprise customers through her company Rinehart Spectrum Solutions Group. Prior to that, she spent 31 years with Motorola Solutions, completing her service there as Senior Specialist of Spectrum Strategies,” according to a news release.

Courtesy TRDaily

FirstNet Releases ‘Clean’ Audit Report

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) has released a report on its latest “clean” audit. The report covers fiscal year 2017. “This marks the fifth consecutive year FirstNet has achieved a clean audit opinion for its financial statements,” FirstNet Chief Financial Officer Kim Farington said in a blog posting today. “We continue the trend of zero significant deficiencies related to this audit.  Furthermore, there were no management level control deficiencies reported to management.” – Courtesy TR Daily

ARRL Praises Inclusion of Amateur Radio Bill in NDAA

The American Radio Relay League praised lawmakers today for adding the language of the Amateur Radio Parity Act (HR 555) to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019 (HR 5515), which was approved by the House Armed Services Committee after a marathon markup Wednesday. The measure would permit amateur radio operators to install an outdoor antenna at their residences with the approval of their homeowners’ association. An amendment  with the language from HR 555 was offered by Reps. Joe Courtney (D., Conn.), Vicky Hartzler (R., Mo.) and Mike Rogers (R., Ala.) and approved by voice vote. The Amateur Radio Parity Act has passed the House twice in the past two years. – Courtesy TR Daily

Wyden Asks FCC to Probe Location Information Tracking

Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) has asked the FCC to probe the tracking of cellphone customers’ location information by law enforcement officials who access the data from Securus Technologies, Inc., which provides inmate calling services (ICS) to correctional facilities. The senator also wrote major wireless carriers to get information on their practices for selling customers’ location information to other parties.

“I recently learned that Securus Technologies, a major provider of correctional-facility telephone services, purchases real-time location information from major wireless carriers and provides the information, via a self-service web portal, for nothing more than the legal equivalent of a pinky promise,” Mr. Wyden wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “This practice skirts wireless [carriers’] legal obligation to be the sole conduit by which the government conducts surveillance of Americans’ phone records, and needlessly exposes millions of Americans to potential abuse and surveillance by the government.”

The senator added that top Securus officials “confirmed to my office that Securus takes no steps to verify that uploaded documents in fact provide judicial authorization for real-time location surveillance, or conduct any review of surveillance requests. Securus claimed, incorrectly, that correctional facilities, not Securus, must ensure that correctional officers don’t misuse the web portal.”

“It is incredibly troubling that Securus provides location data to the government at all — let alone that it does so without a verified court order or other legal process,” Mr. Wyden wrote. “This clear abuse is only possible because wireless carriers sell their customers’ private information to companies claiming to have consumer consent without sufficiently verifying those claims.”

Mr. Wyden asked the FCC to “promptly investigate Securus, the wireless carriers’ failure to maintain exclusive control over law enforcement access to their customers’ location data, and also conduct a broad investigation into what demonstration of customer consent, if any, each wireless carrier requires from other companies before the carriers provide them with customer location information and other data.”

The senator also wrote major wireless carriers to ask them if they have any safeguards to prevent the sale of location information without the consent of customers, what companies they sell such data to, what type of information they sell, and what proof of customer consent parties provide. He also asked for details on incidents where carriers have found companies misusing customer information.

Mr. Wyden also asked carriers to undertake an audit of each third party that gets information from the carriers to determine how the party uses the information and ensure that customers have agreed to have that information disclosed. Carriers should “notify customers whose location information you disclosed without their consent,” Mr. Wyden said. Carriers also should terminate agreements with parties that have mishandled customer information and launch web portals so customers can see which parties their information is shared with, the senator added.

In the letter to the carriers, Mr. Wyden said Securus told his office “that it purchases real-time location information … through a third party location aggregator that has a commercial relationship with the major wireless carriers — and routinely shares that information with its government clients. Correctional officers simply visit Securus’ web portal, enter any U.S. phone number, and then upload a document purporting to be an ‘official document giving permission’ to obtain real-time location data.”

Securus did not respond to a request for comment today.

An FCC spokesman said the agency has received Mr. Wyden’s letter and is reviewing it.

In response to Mr. Wyden’s letter, Sprint Corp. said in a statement, “Protecting our customers’ privacy and security is a top priority, and we are transparent about our Privacy Policy. To be clear, we do not share or sell consumers’ sensitive information to third parties. We share personally identifiable geo-location information only with customer consent or in response to a lawful request such as a validated court order from law enforcement. We will answer the questions raised in Sen. Wyden’s letter directly through appropriate channels. However, it is important to note that Sprint’s relationship with Securus does not include data sharing, and is limited to supporting efforts to curb unlawful use of contraband cellphones in correctional facilities.”

AT&T, Inc., said, “We have a best practices approach to handling our customers’ data. We are aware of the letter and will provide a response.”

“We’re still trying to verify, but if this company is, in fact, doing this with our customers’ data, we will take steps to stop it,” said Verizon Communications, Inc.

T-Mobile US, Inc., said, “We take the privacy and security of our customers’ data very seriously. We received Senator Wyden’s letter and are thoroughly investigating the issues he raises. As always, if we were to find any misuse of our customers’ data, we would take appropriate action.” —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

FCC Releases Corrected Version of Order

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau announced today that it has replaced the version of a second report and order and order on reconsideration released in February that amended and clarified the agency’s 700 megahertz band interoperability and technical rules (TR Daily, Feb. 12). The bureau said in an erratum that an incorrect version of the item was released in PS dockets 13-87 and 06-229 and WT docket 96-86. – Courtesy TR Daily