Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, August 30, 2018

Passing the Baton.  The past several weeks have seen some interesting changes in the FirstNet Board of Directors and the U.S. Senate. First and foremost, the passing of John McCain was very sad news for many. I am not sure how many within the public safety community know how involved Senator McCain was in the early days of forming FirstNet or how much he supported the public safety community. On the FirstNet Authority side, we lost (due to retirement) our great board chair person Sue Swenson, vice-chair Chief (Ret.) Johnson, and “Mr. EMS”Kevin McGinnis. This leaves a gaping hole in the board with seven vacant chairs to be filled.

In July of 2010, three U.S. Senators announced they were joining the fight mounted by the public safety community to gain access to the 700-MHz D Block. These three were John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller. Until then, support from the Senate for the public safety requests was limited. Then on July 21, 2010, Senators McCain and Lieberman introduced a bill (S.3625) to allocate the spectrum known as the D Block to public safety and provide up to $5.5 billion in funding followed by another $5.5 billion as the network was built.

As this bill was being launched, the Public Safety Spectrum Trust, headed by Chief (Ret.) Harlin McEwen, the Public Safety Alliance (PSA), and other dedicated supporters were walking the halls of Congress to drum up bipartisan support for the plan. The PSA held a rally outside the capital building on a very hot, muggy day. Officials from fire, police, EMS, and sheriffs who participated wore their dress uniforms, which are not designed for standing for hours in the hot sun. Both Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman joined us for the event wearing suits and both spoke about their bill and how it was taking too long after the 9/11 report and recommendations, how they both supported public safety, and what they were trying to accomplish. Read the Entire Post Here . Continue reading

FirstNet Subs Pass 2,500, AT&T Says

More than 2,500 public safety agencies using more than 150,000 connections have signed on to obtain wireless broadband services from the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) network, AT&T, Inc., announced today.  That it is up from the “nearly 1,500 public safety agencies” and “more than 110,000 connections” announced last month (TR Daily, July 20).  AT&T is FirstNet’s partner in building out a nationwide broadband network for interoperable public safety communications, using spectrum allocated by Congress for that purpose.

Courtesy TRDaily


From Today’s FCC Daily Digest, August 29, 2018

Modification of Rules to Codify New Procedure for Non-Federal Public Safety Entities to License Federal Interoperability Channels

FR Document: 2018-18691
Citation: 83 FR 43987
PDF Pages 43987-43988 (2 pages)
Abstract: In this document, the Commission announces that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved, for a period of three years, the information collection associated with Order DA 18-282. This document is consistent with Order DA 18-282, which stated that the Commission would publish a document in the Federal Register announcing the effective date of the information collection associated with that order.

DHS Publishes Next Generation First Responder Group Integration Handbook, February 2018, v2.2

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) initiated the Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) Apex program in January 2015 to develop and integrate next-generation technologies to expand first responder mission effectiveness and safety. The NGFR Apex program works with first responders across the country to ensure they are protected, connected and fully aware, regardless of the hazards they face. The program is developing and integrating technologies that are modular (have the ability to integrate via open standards and interfaces) and scalable (have the ability to build a large and complex system or a small and streamlined system). Beyond developing individual technologies that can integrate, the goal of the NGFR Apex program is to define the open-source standards that enable commercially developed technologies to integrate together and into existing first responder technologies.

To guide industry to develop, design, test and integrate these technologies, DHS S&T developed this NGFR Integration Handbook, which identifies standards, interfaces and data flows that would allow public safety agencies to integrate hardware, software and data of different technology solutions, building their own public safety system. DHS S&T does not intend or desire to draft new standards, only to identify and recommend existing standards that developers may implement. This handbook is meant to start the conversation about how industry can partner with responders to make technologies that are easier to integrate and provide meaningful capabilities to operational users. DHS S&T invites industry to review this handbook and provide feedback – we will build this interoperability model together.

The NGFR Integration Handbook is organized in three parts, with each part increasing in level of technical detail. This is Part 1: Introduction, which reviews the NGFR Apex program and the basic components that make up the Responder SmartHub – the on-body sensor and communications networks that make integration possible. This section is intended for executive audiences who do not necessarily have technical knowledge. In Part 2: Engineering Design, the handbook presents a more detailed technical review of the components and the interoperability standards applied to facilitate integration. In Part 3: Technical Supplement, the handbook dives deeper into the programming required to enable data and software integration, and also includes a full list of NGFR Apex program requirements – all defined in partnership with first responders – to help industry develop technologies more closely aligned to user needs.

Next Generation First Responder Group Integration Handbook, Feb 2018, v2


Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, August 23, 2018

Radio Interference in the Public Safety World.  There are many different types of interference that may have an impact on existing radio communications systems whether they are Land Mobile Radio (LMR), broadband, marine band, aviation and satellite or, of course, Wi-Fi systems. Deliberately causing interference might be considered as “hacking” wireless systems. Then there is the issue of the noise floor and its level being higher than it has ever been, which can also have a negative impact on all types of wireless communications. Radio transmitters either by themselves or in conjunction with other transmitters can cause major interference issues as well. While there are other types of interference, I will limit the discussion for this week’s Public Safety Advocate (PSA) to those mentioned above.

Malicious Interference. Malicious interference is often attributable to how easy it is to purchase cheap handheld radios on the land mobile radio channels and then program them to work on almost any radio channel in use. Most of these radios are made in China. Although these units have been causing interference for many years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) only recently began to crack down on their use. Once a device is programmed to, for example, a fire radio channel, the “radio hacker” can make calls, disrupt incidents, and otherwise cripple communications. In one series of events a teenager with a radio tuned to a fire dispatch channel in California caused mass confusion by re-routing engines to different locations as they were being dispatched.

Public safety radios are sometimes taken out of service and sold or given to others, but most departments wipe them clean of their programming information before handing them over, or the radios are simply destroyed. A stolen or lost radio can normally be silenced and taken off the network much like your cell phone if it is lost or stolen. With mobile units, when the microphone button is pushed it sometimes inadvertently sticks and stays on the air. Many departments require all these radios to have time-out-timers in them to limit the time of the transmission and release the channel. It is difficult to identify open transmissions or catch radio hackers since they only transmit for a few minutes at a time and may move around. Some departments have enlisted the assistance of the local ham radio community as many hams practice “transmitter hunts” and have become very good at tracking down radios that should not be on the air.
Read the Entire Post Here.

Here are the articles I have selected with the help of Discovery Patterns artificial intelligence/

Two FirstNet board members step down, leaving seven open seats

StateScoop Aug 21 17:30

Read More

The agency’s sole vendor for the project, AT&T, received authorization to begin building out its dedicated public safety broadband wireless spectrum in …

Records Show FirstNet, AT&T Execs Pressured Colorado Officials After LTE Interoperability Filing

RadioResource Media Group Aug 21 16:30

Read More

First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T executives criticized a July 6 Colorado Public Safety Broadband Governing Body (CPSBGB) …

Two longtime FirstNet board members retire

RCR Wireless News Aug 21 16:10

Read More

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve public safety over the past six years. Having accomplished what Chief Johnson and I set out to do back …

A Senator Says U.S. Broadband Maps ‘Stink.’ Here’s Why Nobody Wants To Fix Them.

Techdirt Corporate Intelligence Aug 21 15:02

Read More

Last week we noted how an FCC “oversight” hearing fell well short of anything actually resembling, well, actual oversight. Three FCC staffers had just been caught making up a DDOS attack and misleading Congress, the press and the FBI about it — yet the subject was was barely even broached by lawmakers on either side of the aisle. It was another embarrassing example of the absence of anything resembling genuine accountability at the agency. Fortunately…

Twenty-two states ask US appeals court to reinstate ‘net neutrality’ rules

CNBC Aug 21 09:13

Read More

The states argue the FCC action could harm public safety, citing electrical grids as an example.Â

Ajit Pai Opposes Effort To Update The Definition Of Broadband

Techdirt Corporate Intelligence Aug 17 15:02

Read More

The Telecom Act of 1996 mandates that the FCC routinely assess whether broadband is “being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion,” and do something about it if that’s not the case. As part of that mission, the FCC also periodically takes a look at the way it defines broadband to ensure the current definition meets modern consumer expectations and technical advancements. That’s why, much to the telecom industry’s chagrin , the…

The next steps for FirstNet: Defining indoor coverage specifications (Reader Forum) Aug 17 13:55

Read More

… FirstNet (First Responder Network Authority), a public safety network. FirstNet will be America’s first broadband network dedicated to emergency …

Samsung’s Exynos i S111 Delivers Efficiency and Reliability for NB-IoT Devices

Samsung Newsroom Aug 23 04:40

Read More

Samsung Electronics, a world leader in advanced semiconductor technology, today announced its new narrowband (NB) Internet of Things (IoT) …

CTIA Unveils Internet Of Things Cybersecurity Certification

Law360 Aug 22 15:00

Read More

The program, CTIA said, builds on security recommendations for IoT put forward by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration …

Brazil plans network in 700 MHz band for security forces

Telecompaper Aug 18 04:00

Read More

Brazil is planning to set up an integrated communication network for the public security forces. This mobile broadband network will occupy part of the …

FCC supports rural broadband deployments to enable telehealth

Health Data Management Aug 17 23:00

Read More

The delivery of high-quality care is no longer limited to the confines of …

The US May Yet Catch Its Global Peers in 4G Speeds

Light Reading Aug 17 16:10

Read More

Verizon and AT&T debuted their 4G services the 700 MHz band they’d won in 2008. Sprint took the 2.5 GHz route for LTE after several attempts to …

Verizon calls for greater interoperability with FirstNet, says public-sector business still growing

Urgent Communications Aug 17 13:55

Read More

No public-safety agency should have to choose a network based on where an application sits or what applications they’ll have access to..

FCC Faces Senate Commerce Committee Panel In Oversight Hearing

All Access Music Group Aug 17 09:10

Read More

… missteps in the Net Neutrality proceeding as well as rural broadband, the Lifeline program, telehealth services, robocalls, and other issues.

FCC supports rural broadband deployments to enable telehealth

Health Data Management Aug 17 08:13

Read More

Commission envisions care delivered directly to patients via telemedicine, regardless of their location, says Commissioner Brendan Carr.

California Fire Chief Calls Verizon Throttling ‘Unacceptable’

Anthony Bowden, fire chief of the Santa Clara County Fire Department, told California lawmakers today that the throttling recently experienced by firefighters battling the Medocino Complex fire was “unacceptable” and that first responders’ access to a public safety network was critical. Verizon was accused earlier this week of slowing down service to California firefighters as they battled some of the worst fires in the state’s history.

“Responders rely on mobile wireless connectivity. The public relies on our ability to provide them information,” Mr. Bowden said today during a hearing on the issue held by the Senate Select Committee on Natural Disaster, Response, Recovery, and Rebuilding. “Our ability to connect and maintain Internet connectivity is critical to our public safety mission.”

He continued, “For me, personally … I’d rather keep my head down and keep working than to have to speak publicly about something like this.  But I have to make sure this doesn’t happen again to any other fire service provider or agency.”

Verizon, meanwhile, announced today ahead of the California hearing that it would lift data restrictions and speed cap restrictions for first responders on the west coast and in Hawaii to support firefighting and hurricane efforts. Verizon said it would also lift restrictions on public safety customers, providing full network access, during future disasters, and next will release new unlimited data plans for public safety agencies across the country. Continue reading

Verizon Lifts Caps for First Responders As Dems Urge FTC Probe

Verizon Communications, Inc., today announced that, as of yesterday, public safety mobile broadband customers in Hawaii and on the West Coast are no longer subject to its policy of reducing data transmission speeds for the remainder of the billing period for subscribers on “unlimited” data plans if their usage exceeds pre-set levels.  It also said it plans to roll out an offering for public safety customers with “no caps on mobile usage.”

The announcement came in the wake of a statement about the effects of the Verizon policy by the Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District  in a court filing related to the FCC’s elimination of a rule against “throttling,” as deliberate data speed reductions by Internet service providers (ISPs) are known.  News of that incident prompted a California state legislature hearing today to look into the issue (see separate story) and a letter to the Federal Trade Commission from members of California’s congressional delegation urging an investigation of Verizon’s business practices.

In an addendum to a brief filed earlier this week by government petitioners seeking to overturn the FCC’s December 2017 restoring Internet freedom (RIF) order, Anthony Bowden, the fire chief for the Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District, had said that the department experienced throttling by Verizon that “had a significant impact on our ability to provide emergency services” during deployment to battle the Mendocino Complex Fire (TR Daily, Aug. 21). He added, “Verizon representatives confirmed the throttling, but, rather than restoring us to an essential data transfer speed, they indicated that County Fire would have to switch to a new data plan at more than twice the cost, and they would only remove throttling after we contacted the Department that handles billing and switched to the new data plan.”

Verizon said earlier this week that its practice is to “remove data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations” by emergency responders, and that its failure to do in this case was “a customer support mistake” that it was reviewing (TR Daily, Aug. 21). Continue reading

FCC Staff Hurricane Report Details Actions to Bolter Response

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau released a report today that details a number of planned or recommended steps to improve emergency response and recovery efforts in the wake of last year’s historic Atlantic hurricane season, including promoting the value of the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) and requesting more DIRS data from providers, encouraging backhaul providers to participate in the Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework and seeking more granular data, improving the ability to verify the availability of commercial wireless services, bolstering engagement with other critical infrastructure sectors, suggesting that industry entities partner with localities on training for emergencies, and recommending the implementation of various best practices.

“The storms of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season put considerable, and in some cases unprecedented, stress on numerous communications infrastructures — wireless, cable, wireline, and broadcasting. Consideration and implementation of the lessons learned from the 2017 season can help ensure that the communications ecosystem continues to harden and become ever more resilient,” the 36-page report said. “Although last year was an anomaly as far as the severity and number of named storms, all members of the communications community should take what steps they can, now, to lessen a storm’s impact. PSHSB looks forward to sharing lessons learned with its partners within the Commission, with its federal partners, with state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments, and with communication service provider[s]. … Even though following all recommendations cannot preclude an adverse communications event, diligent and early adoption will lessen the impact of that event.”

“The adverse effect of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season on communications increased in magnitude as the season went on,” the report stressed. “While the damage caused by the August 2017 landing of Hurricane Harvey in the Gulf Coast region, especially Houston, was quickly remedied (within a week, ninety-eight percent of cell towers were back to operational), recovery times for communications became more challenging as the intensity of destruction increased. The early September 2017 arrival of Hurricane Irma, first in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and Puerto Rico, and then parts of Florida, followed in short order by Hurricane Maria, again in Puerto Rico and the USVI just two weeks after Irma, largely destroyed the communications infrastructures of both territories. Finally, the October 2017 arrival of Hurricane Nate caused damage primarily through flooding in the north Gulf Coast region (Mississippi to Florida).” Continue reading

Bloggers: Fire Department Throttling Not Net Neutrality Issue

The incident of data throttling by Verizon Communications, Inc., cited by the Santa Clara (Calif.) Fire Department in an addendum to a brief filed by government petitioners seeking to overturn the FCC’s December 2017 restoring Internet freedom (RIF) order “has nothing to do with net neutrality,” according to Roslyn Layton, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Similarly, Free State Foundation Senior Fellow Seth Cooper said in a blog posting today that the county “is trying to make hay over the matter by wrongly trying to tie it to ‘net neutrality.’”

In the addendum, Anthony Bowden, the fire chief for the Santa Clara County Central Fire Department, said that the department experienced throttling by Verizon that “had a significant impact on our ability to provide emergency services” during deployment to battle the Mendocino Complex Fire (TR Daily, Aug. 21).  He added, “Verizon representatives confirmed the throttling, but, rather than restoring us to an essential data transfer speed, they indicated that County Fire would have to switch to a new data plan at more than twice the cost, and they would only remove throttling after we contacted the Department that handles billing and switched to the new data plan.”

As reported previously (TR Daily, Aug. 21), Verizon said in a statement, ““This situation has nothing to do with net neutrality or the current proceeding in court. … This customer purchased a government contract plan for a high-speed wireless data allotment at a set monthly cost. Under this plan, users get an unlimited amount of data but speeds are reduced when they exceed their allotment until the next billing cycle. Regardless of the plan emergency responders choose, we have a practice to remove data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations. We have done that many times, including for emergency personnel responding to these tragic fires. In this situation, we should have lifted the speed restriction when our customer reached out to us. This was a customer support mistake. We are reviewing the situation and will fix any issues going forward.” Continue reading