WA Tech Reports: Cellular signals, emergency radios can now share nicely within same frequency thanks to state project

A 12-year effort to ensure cell phones and public safety radio bands can transmit clearly in the same space is wrapping up for Washington state, a job made especially difficult by international border issues, rapidly changing technologies and multiple jurisdictions across government.

At the center of it all was Michael Marusich with the state’s Office of Chief Information Officer, who coordinated efforts between wireless phone companies, police, fire, search and rescue and other entities of the federal government and state agencies that rely on radios for emergency communication in the field.

Marusich says the problem was this: Cell phones and public safety radio channels share the 800 MHz radio frequencies.  While sharing wasn’t a problem a quarter century ago, as wireless use became widespread there were suddenly instances where lives and property were being threatened as cell phone conversations began crowding out emergency communications. Even though cell phone towers are usually placed at lower elevations and emergency radio towers usually located on hills and mountaintops, separating the signals became an issue due to the growing bombardment of cellular use.

Read article here: https://watech.wa.gov/Cellular-signals-emergency-radios-can-now-share-nicely-within-same-frequency-thanks-state-project

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, June 28, 2018

FirstNet Progress and Coverage Issues.  It appears from information provided by FirstNet that more than 1,000 public safety agencies have signed on to the network and are commencing to put it to use. However, some agencies are waiting because they are being told they will get a better deal and service by staying with Verizon. Other agencies have told us they are not convinced FirstNet coverage as it stands today is sufficient for their needs and are waiting to see how FirstNet fills in their coverage area.

On the plus side for FirstNet, many departments that have run comparison coverage tests between Verizon and FirstNet have been pleasantly surprised at how good FirstNet coverage already is in their area. Other agencies are in discussion with FirstNet (Built by AT&T) to expedite extended coverage plans. New devices are being approved for use on FirstNet all the time. The latest is the Sierra Wireless MG-90 vehicular modem. While Sierra is not a client of mine, it has provided me with an MG-90 that is installed in my car along with my three JVCKenwood VHF, UHF, and 700/800 radios. This has become a valuable tool for me as I can now check both Verizon and FirstNet coverage and store the results for future use. I can also compare the coverage to LMR systems in an area.

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Washington Post Reports: FirstNet launches, giving police and firefighters a dedicated wireless network and infinite possibilities

Though it’s not a renowned high-tech hub, Brazos County, Tex., has become the showroom for what technology can do for police officers, paramedics and firefighters nationwide, through the newly created FirstNet wireless network. When Brazos sheriff’s deputies entered a standoff with an armed man inside his home, they positioned four cars around the building and streamed live video through FirstNet back to their command center from their phones. When firefighters launched a swiftwater rescue recently, they were able to show it in real time through FirstNet to their supervisors. When a man tried to fraudulently register a stolen car, a patrol lieutenant was able to patch into the government center cameras through FirstNet and watch the crime in progress.

Read entire article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/tom-jackman/

WISPA Says 6 GHz Proposal ‘Excellent Starting Point’

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association has termed “an excellent starting point” steps proposed recently by 10 tech companies that they said would ensure that unlicensed devices in the 6 gigahertz band don’t cause harmful interference to incumbents (TR Daily, June 12).

The firms and 6 GHz band incumbents have been bickering for months about an analysis the tech firms submitted in January that concluded that unlicensed devices could share the 6 GHz band without causing harmful interference to primary incumbent operations (TR Daily, Jan. 26).

The analysis submitted in January was done by RKF Engineering Services LLC and submitted to the Commission by Apple, Inc., Broadcom Corp., Cisco Systems, Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Facebook, Inc., Google LLC, Intel Corp., MediaTek, Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Qualcomm, Inc. The recent proposal, as with other recent filings, was submitted by those companies, with the addition of Ruckus Networks and the omission of MediaTek. Continue reading

O’Rielly Criticizes Guam on 911 Fee Diversions

FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly today criticized Guam for diverting 911 funds for other purposes. In a letter to Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo (R.), Mr. O’Rielly complained that he has not responded to a letter that Mr. O’Rielly sent in February asking why Guam 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). In today’s letter, he also cited the apparent transfer of nearly $4 million from Guam’s 911 fund between 2014 and 2017.

“The citizens of Guam rely on the 9-1-1 system to work in their most dire times of need,” the Commissioner said. “It is beyond disappointing to learn that your territory has made a habit of diverting these funds for other purposes. Therefore, I respectfully request that you cease such diversionary practices at once, and work with the Commission to deliver on the promises of NextGen 911 for the residents of Guam.”

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC to Consider C-Band, EAS, Cellular, Number Portability Items

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said today that he plans to ask his colleagues to consider six items at their July 12 meeting that deal with the 3.7–4.2 gigahertz C-band, the Emergency Alert System (EAS), the 800 megahertz band, nationwide number portability, formal complaint proceedings, and children’s programming rules.

The FCC plans to release a tentative agenda for the meeting and the draft text of the items tomorrow.

In a blog posting today, Mr. Pai said that “[i]n response to a Notice of Inquiry we initiated last summer [TR Daily, Aug. 3, 2017], stakeholders have come up with a number of creative ideas for making better use of 3.7 to 4.2 GHz.  And next month, we’ll vote on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks more detailed feedback on those ideas that merit further exploration.  That Notice of Inquiry also sought comment on new uses in the 6 GHz band.  I’m pleased to say that we plan to move forward with a rulemaking on that spectrum this fall.” Continue reading

FirstNet Officials Reiterate Positives of AT&T Offering

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.

Also today, the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) released a statement supporting the FirstNet system.

At today’s joint meeting of the FirstNet board and its four committees, which was held via teleconference and WebEx, FirstNet board Chairwoman Sue Swenson wasted no time in touting the progress that she says has been made in deploying the nationwide network.

She said that a “significant number” of public safety agencies across nearly all states have signed up for the service — more than 60,000 customers at more than 650 agencies, FirstNet said today — 31 devices have been certified to operate on the network, more apps are available in the FirstNet apps store – nearly two dozen, according to AT&T – and deployable equipment is being rolled out – although later this originally announced.

Ms. Swenson also said efforts are underway to ensure there is better coordination to respond to the requests for assets. “I think it’s exciting that we’re actually making this amount of progress,” she added.

Other FirstNet officials repeatedly stressed that AT&T has deployed a dedicated public safety core network, rather than a “virtual” core, taking a shot at Verizon.

“We have a network that has its own dedicated core,” said board member Neil Cox, who is chair of the Technology Committee. “It’s not some virtual private network.”

Board Vice Chair Jeff Johnson, who chairs the Public Safety Advocacy Committee, said FirstNet’s network is superior to “other offerings,” adding, “There are lots of offerings out there that are, frankly, not as good as public safety demands.”

Verizon did not respond to a request for comment today. A spokesman for the carrier said previously that it is “building our core on dedicated resources, but it would be foolish to not embrace software defined networking (SDN) and other technologies designed to future proof network development and enhance operations for public safety customers.”

Also at today’s meeting, Network Management and Operations Officer Rich Reed announced that AT&T will complete the delivery of the first 24 of 72 deployables in the next five weeks. At FirstNet’s March meeting, Mr. Reed said that the 24 deployables would be rolled out by the end of that month (TR Daily, March 15).

“This is the first tranche of dedicated FirstNet deployables,” a FirstNet spokesperson noted in a statement to TR Daily. “All FirstNet deployables are expected to be delivered by September 2018. In the meantime, AT&T has made their Network Disaster Recovery fleet available to public safety.”

In response to a question about the delivery of deployables, an AT&T spokeswoman said, “Like a fire apparatus, a custom cell tower on wheels – built to public safety’s specifications – takes months to produce. While we have not missed any commitments, we have delayed delivery of these assets until our vendor meets the exacting standards established by our public safety partners. In the meantime, we have responded to every public safety request for a deployable using our numerous assets.”

Marsha MacBride, associate administrator in charge of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Office of Public Safety Communications, briefed the board on the process for filling five FirstNet board seats that will be open this August. She said NTIA received 18 applications for the seats and two requests for renominations. “A tentative set of selections” has been prepared for review by NTIA Administrator David J. Redl. There will then be another set of reviews before the names are presented to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, she said.  “We are very hopeful that that will be done in a timely fashion,” she added.

In its statement today, NPSTC said that it “strongly supports Public Law 112-96 (02/22/12) that sets forth the requirements for having one Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). THE NPSBN is what public safety advocated for from the beginning of discussions within the community, starting around 2006, and what Congress mandated — a single nationwide network.”

“FirstNet has a physically separate, redundant, and dedicated core — it is NOT a virtual core as part of a commercial network,” NPSTC added. “This supports the SAFECOM public safety communications continuum, which encourages one platform for the highest level of interoperability. One public safety core, the FirstNet core, also takes us away from decades of systems that cannot inter-operate for multi-jurisdictional responses. The FirstNet Authority has committed to provide an Applications Catalog that ensures that applications are tested and certified; to provide dedicated security monitoring of the network 24/7/365; dedicated customer support personnel 24/7/365; public safety dedicated disaster recovery resources and response coordination; a dedicated lab run by the FirstNet Authority that tests and validates the performance of the network, devices, and the applications ecosystem; and a sustainable financial model that guarantees reinvestment in public safety’s network.

“FirstNet is the only network with Band Class 14 spectrum that is dedicated to public safety,” NPSTC noted. “FirstNet also has an oversight organization in the FirstNet Authority that not only ensures that AT&T delivers on its commitments, but also advocates for public safety. Both are unique to FirstNet. NPSTC Supports FirstNet as THE Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network.”

Asked by TR Daily why the federation of 16 public safety organizations had decided to issue the statement now and whether it was taking sides between Verizon and AT&T, NPSTC board Chair Ralph Haller said, “The board was just expressing its support for FirstNet, which is the DHS solution to some aspects of public safety interoperability.  It was supporting the federal position, not taking sides in a commercial fight.  The statement was just affirmation of support for DHS efforts.”

“We appreciate NPSTC’s continued support of FirstNet, public safety’s network,” a FirstNet spokesperson said of the NPSTC statement. —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily