Snapshot: S&T Working to Address GPS Vulnerabilities

The critical infrastructure sectors rely on accurate position, navigation and timing (PNT) to function. Currently, the global positioning system (GPS) is the primary source of distributed and accurate timing information. However, GPS’s space-based signals are low-power and unencrypted, making them susceptible to both intentional and unintentional disruption.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has dedicated a multi‑year program to address GPS vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure, with a multi‑pronged approach to:

  • Conduct vulnerability and impact assessments;
  • Develop mitigations;
  • Explore complementary timing technologies; and
  • Engage with industry through outreach meetings and events.

Industry Outreach

Industry outreach is a key component of the PNT program’s strategy, and a major event S&T hosted was the 2018 GPS Equipment Testing for Critical Infrastructure (GET-CI). This annual event provides stakeholders an opportunity to test and evaluate equipment in a unique live‑sky GPS interference environment rarely available to the private sector. Stakeholders include critical infrastructure GPS equipment manufacturers and critical infrastructure owners and operators.

“Many major critical infrastructure GPS equipment manufacturers attended this year’s S&T GET-CI event,” said Sarah Mahmood, DHS S&T Program Manager. “This made it a key engagement opportunity for the PNT program to both discover and cultivate working relationships with industry, and is a critical component of the program’s strategy for transition.”

Available Technology

In addition to informing the public of the nation’s critical infrastructure challenges, S&T also develops cost‑effective mitigation technologies for GPS interference, such as the Total Horizon Nuller (THN) antenna, which was developed in conjunction with the Homeland Security Systems Engineering and Development Institute. This antenna design is available to manufacturers through a no-cost license, and S&T has already transitioned the antenna to three companies for commercialization. The THN antenna is a specialized low‑cost “anti-jam” antenna for fixed infrastructure applications that mitigates ground-based sources of GPS interference. This low‑cost solution enables critical infrastructure owners and operators to deploy such antennas more widely within parts of their networks that require resilience measures, but were not critical enough to warrant significantly higher priced solutions.

“Some critical infrastructure operators have thousands of GPS antennas and receivers in their network. Widely deploying a $10,000 antenna is impractical. This is especially true for the wireless communications sector, which deploys cell sites everywhere. But a low-cost antenna could be deployed at sites within the networks that need it,” said Mahmood.

Looking to the future, the PNT program is engaging private industry to develop an “assured timing compliance framework” to strengthen the resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure. This framework will be a key part of the PNT program and aims to help different levels of smart and resilient receivers meet varying end-user needs in sectors, like banking and communications. Participation in this compliance framework will be voluntary, but industry-wide adoption of this framework will enable greater PNT resilience in critical infrastructure, like the nation’s electric grids, communication networks and financial institutions.

To learn more about GET-CI, the THN antenna or S&T’s work in the area of Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT), email GPS4Critical-Infrastructure@hq.dhs.gov.

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, November 29, 2018

Presentations and Awards. On Tuesday the week before Thanksgiving, I flew to Denver to speak at a FirstNet Association (FNA) event and on Wednesday I flew home. Then on Thursday, I started out on what became a two-day trek to New York City due to weather delays. When I finally arrived in NYC, it was late on Friday so I was only able to join the Radio Club of America (RCA) board of directors meeting for the last thirty minutes. This was my last board meeting and I regret I could not have been there for the entire meeting but stormy weather and flying don’t often go well together.

FirstNet Association (FNA). The presentation I gave for attendees who came to hear the latest about FirstNet focused on coverage and the PowerPoint slides can be found here. The first slide set the level of expectations versus today’s progress. It shows that at present we are in month twenty of the contract between AT&T and FirstNet the Authority and outlined RFP-stated FirstNet milestones that would have to be met for the bidder to be compliant and on-track for building the network. When the RFP was developed, conventional wisdom was that a bidder would win the contract and deploy Band 14 (20 MHz of spectrum) for public safety over a five-year period.

Instead, when AT&T was awarded the contract, it provided public safety with full access to all AT&T LTE spectrum along with a plan to add Band 14 to its sites. The slide for month twenty states that at the end of twenty-four months of contract, “Achievement of 60% of contractor’s proposed Band 14 coverage in non-rural areas” should be complete. While only 60-percent of non-rural areas are required to be covered by Band 14 now, the FirstNet (Built with AT&T) footprint is much broader. Read the Entire Post Here. Continue reading

California Withdraws WEA Test Waiver Request

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has withdrawn its request for a waiver to conduct an earthquake warning wireless emergency alert (WEA) test. In a filing yesterday in PS docket 15-91, Cal OES said the “full resources of the state are dedicated to the wildfire recovery efforts throughout the state,” adding that as a result, it can’t conduct “adequate public outreach in advance” of the earthquake warning test. It said that it “intends to organize a call with stakeholders in December to assess future test options.”

Meanwhile, the Montgomery County, Texas, Office of Homeland Security has requested a waiver to conduct a WEA test on Dec. 18, with a backup date of Dec. 27, and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management wants a waiver to conduct WEA tests in 11 cities and counties. The tests would be conducted Dec. 12 for the Surry Nuclear Power Station and Feb. 20, 2019, for the North Anna Nuclear Power Station.

Courtesy TRDaily

Parties Urge Transfer of Small Cell Appeals to Ninth Circuit

Twenty Western localities that have challenged the small cell order adopted by the FCC in September have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (Denver) to transfer six petitions for review to the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco).

Earlier this month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation released an order consolidating the cases — which had been filed in the First (Boston), Second (New York), Ninth, and Tenth circuits — in the Tenth Circuit (TR Daily, Nov. 2).

A motion filed yesterday in consolidated cases beginning at 18-9563 cited a number of other localities and municipal groups that support the transfer of the cases to the Ninth Circuit but said the FCC opposes the transfer, as do petitioners Sprint Corp., Verizon Communications, Inc., and Puerto Rico Telephone Company, Inc., and intervenors CTIA and the Competitive Carriers Association. The filing said that the Department of Justice has not taken a position on the transfer motion. Continue reading

House Republicans Ratify Ranking Members

House Republicans today ratified House Republican Steering Committee ranking membership recommendations for the 116th Congress.

Rep. Greg Walden (R., Ore.) will be ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Rep. Doug Collins (R., Ga.) will be ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee; Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.) will be ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee; and Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) will be ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Courtesy TRDaily

NTIA Gives Agencies Guidance on Reporting Future Spectrum Needs

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has provided guidance to federal agencies to submit reports on their anticipated future spectrum requirements pursuant to a memorandum signed by President Trump last month directing the executive branch to develop a national spectrum strategy (TR Daily, Oct. 25).

In a memo dated Wednesday and released today, NTIA Administrator David J. Redl told agencies that they must submit initial reports by Feb. 21, 2019, and final reports by April 23, 2019, on their spectrum needs over the next 15 years.

“The federal spectrum assessment is one of several tasks in the Presidential Memorandum aimed at building a sustainable, forward-looking national strategy to ensure America’s continued leadership across technology sectors. Transparency in how spectrum is being utilized and collaboration among stakeholders are key elements of the Administration’s approach,” Mr. Redl said. “To that end, NTIA intends to post a public summary of the reports on its website to the extent permitted by law.”

“For this task, NTIA defines ‘future spectrum requirements’ as any additional spectrum access required when planned systems become operationally fielded during the time period specified below,” Mr. Redl said. “A planned system is a spectrum-dependent, communications- or noncommunications-based system that is at one of several stages of actual development (e.g., conceptual, research, testing, etc.), but is not yet operational. As such, a planned system does not yet have, but will need, final authorization to operate via NTIA’s spectrum certification and/or frequency assignment processes. It is important to ensure that future spectrum requirements are based on tangible and documented needs for each planned system. NTIA therefore requests that each agency provide requirements-type technical information and supporting documentation demonstrating, for example, that specific operating features have been identified, budgets have been approved for system-specific research and development, plans are in place for early-stage testing and evaluation, or significant steps have been taken toward acquisition and procurement of the planned system.” Continue reading

O’Rielly Provides Update on Anti-911 Fee Diversion Efforts

FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly today cited mixed results in an update today on his efforts to get states to stop diverting 911 fees for other purposes or to report to the FCC whether they do so or not.

“Of the five self-reported diverting states and seven states and territories that did not respond to the Commission’s inquiry (for a total of 12), two states (Illinois and Oklahoma) and one territory (Northern Mariana Islands) remedied filing errors to clarify that they are not diverters; one state (West Virginia) and one territory (Puerto Rico) are in the process of ending diversion within their borders; and one state (New Mexico) has ended its diversionary practices going forward,” Mr. O’Rielly said. “This leaves five states and one territory (New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Missouri, Montana, and Guam) that have not yet either provided the Commission with their 2016 state data or ended their explicit and despicable practice of stealing 9-1-1 fees for their own discretionary spending.”

He noted the introduction last summer of the 9-1-1 Fee Integrity Act (HR 6424), which is designed to prevent states from diverting 911 fees for other purposes (TR Daily, July 19).

“This is an important step. Once the Commission provides a clear definition of diversion, and states may no longer thwart consumer expectations by passing laws permitting such diversion, diversionary practices should decline,” the Commissioner said. “But a more comprehensive bill may be needed to deal with recalcitrant states committed to diversion.”- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily