NPSTC Asks FCC to Dismiss CTIA’s 911 Recon Petition

Credit: TR Daily

NPSTC Asks FCC to Dismiss CTIA’s 911 Recon Petition

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council asked the FCC today to dismiss a petition for reconsideration filed recently by CTIA asking the agency to reconsider its z-axis, or vertical, rules and deployment deadlines. The trade group cited testing delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the inability of technologies to be ready to meet the FCC-mandated location-accuracy metric (TR Daily, Sept. 29).

In its filing in PS docket 07-114, NPSTC rejected CTIA’s justifications for its petition and argued that “the only thing that may prevent the implementation of vertical location technologies in the largest 25 cities by the April 2021 deadline is the intransigence of the carriers in preventing the deployment of the z-axis technologies that have already been demonstrated to be compliant.”

CTIA filed a petition for reconsideration of a sixth report and order on reconsideration adopted in July (TR Daily, July 16). The item requires nationwide wireless carriers to deploy z-axis location-accuracy technology nationwide by April 2025, giving non-nationwide carriers an additional year to meet the mandate. It also affirmed a fifth report and order adopted last year that set a z-axis metric of plus or minus three meters relative to the handset for 80% of indoor calls (TR Daily, Nov. 22, 2019). The item required nationwide carriers to meet April 3, 2021, and April 3, 2023, milestones for complying with the metric in the top 25 and top 50 markets, respectively.

“Given the importance of highly accurate vertical location capabilities to rapidly locate and assist individuals in distress, the Commission should immediately dismiss the petition for reconsideration that was filed by CTIA (‘Petition’) as both untimely and relying on arguments that were fully considered and rejected by the Commission. The Petition is untimely because it seeks reconsideration of the timeline that the Commission adopted in 2015 for the implementation of wireless vertical location. CTIA acknowledges that the deadline predates the Sixth Report and Order, requesting reconsideration of ‘the timelines affirmed in the Sixth R&O,’” NPSTC said.

“The Petition should also be dismissed because it relies extensively on arguments that were fully considered and rejected by the Commission in the Sixth Report and Order. For example, the Petition argues at length regarding the relative merits and availability of barometric pressure sensor-based solutions, the use of ‘push’ versus ‘over the top’ approaches to place those solutions in handsets, the adequacy of the Stage Z testbed results, the ongoing development of operating system (‘OS’)-based technologies by Google and Apple, and their proposal to extend the deployment timeline by an additional five years, permitting 50% accuracy in 2021 and 80% accuracy no sooner than 2025. Each of these issues was thoroughly considered and addressed by the Commission in the Sixth Report and Order and do not merit reconsideration just six month[s] before the first implementation deadline,” NPSTC added.

“CTIA claims that its Petition merits consideration because ‘the gravity of Z-axis testing challenges has only become known since the Sixth R&O was adopted’ and therefore qualifies as an event that ‘occurred or circumstances which have changed since the last opportunity to present such matters to the Commission.’ CTIA acknowledges, however, that this assertion is not true. Prior to the adoption of the Sixth Report and Order, the carriers made it very clear that the COVID-19 pandemic was impacting additional testing and those statements were quoted by the Commission in the Sixth Report and Order. … Thus, CTIA’s cancellation of the Stage Zb testbed was both anticipated and irrelevant given the fact that only one vendor had expressed interest in participating,” NPSTC said.

“Instead, the only thing that may prevent the implementation of vertical location technologies in the largest 25 cities by the April 2021 deadline is the intransigence of the carriers in preventing the deployment of the z-axis technologies that have already been demonstrated to be compliant,” NPSTC added. “Several of NPSTC’s members served on CTIA’s Location Accuracy Quarterly Advisory Committee and observed firsthand the efforts of CTIA and its members to impose obstacles in the path of z-axis deployment.

“First, the industry abandoned the National Emergency Address Database along with the promise for dispatchable location in a reasonable time and now they want to delay the z-axis deadline,” the filing said. “The Commission should not permit the carriers to use the pandemic as a pretext to further this agenda. Instead, the Commission should continue its leadership in the pursuant of wireless location accuracy by immediately dismissing CTIA’s petition as untimely and devoid of new arguments. The Commission should also direct the carriers to finalize their implementation of those z-axis technologies by the April 2021 deadline that have already been demonstrated to be 3 meter compliant. The critical needs of public safety and the public that it serves, necessitates this decisive action.” —Paul Kirby,


Public Safety Bureau Chief Bemoans 911 Fee Diversions

States that divert 911 fees from funding public safety access points (PSAPs) to other purposes are standing in the way of call centers carrying out their duties and implementing next generation 911 (NG-911) services, Lisa Fowlkes, chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, said today during an online Federal Communications Bar Association event.

“One of the biggest obstacles is 911 fee diversions,” Ms. Fowlkes said. “Look at it this way, if a state is collecting monies from 911 fees and they divert even a portion of that to somewhere else, that’s less money or your PSAPs. Whether you’re talking about next generation 911, or whether you’re talking about just repairing equipment or supporting 911 call center dispatchers, there’s been less money to do those things.”

The FCC continues to look for ways to stop 911 fee diversion, Ms. Fowlkes said, noting the Commission last month launched a notice of inquiry (PS dockets 20-291 and 09-14) soliciting comment on how states and U.S. territories diverting 911 fees for other purposes has affected the provision of 911 services (TR Daily, Sept. 30).

Ms. Fowlkes also pointed out the FCC has for the past 10 years delivered annual reports to Congress detailing how much money states take in from 911 fees and how much of that money is actually used for funding 911 services.

When the FCC adopted the NOI, FCC Chairman Pai cited FCC data showing that between 2012 and 2018, states diverted more than $1.275 billion in fees to non-911 programs or to their general funds.

Also of particular interest of late for the bureau, she said, is the FCC’s efforts to try to improve coordination between power companies and communications companies during emergencies, Ms. Fowlkes said.

“We’ve certainly encouraged, particularly the wireless industry and the electric power companies to come up with ways to facilitate coordination before, during, and after incidents,” she said.

The bureau also continues to work on “ways to support more enhanced geotargeting” for wireless emergency alert (WEA), she said.

Among other things, the FCC has received “positive responses” to a letter Mr. Pai sent last month to CTIA, Qualcomm, Inc., and ATIS seeking updates about various issues related to implementing enhanced geotargeting (TR Daily, Oct. 2).

Qualcomm responded that all of its 5G chipsets currently being sold, and that will be sold in the future, will support enhanced geotargeting, and ATIS said it is making progress on developing enhanced geotargeting standards. CTIA committed to providing an annual report on how many phones in the market are capable of supporting enhanced geotargeting.

Ms. Fowlkes noted the geotargeting rules do not require wireless carriers to replace or upgrade phones to be geotargeting-capable.

“As you get more churn in terms of phones, it is hoped that there will be more phones out there” that support enhanced geotargeting requirements, she said. —Jeff Williams

FCC FederalNews PublicSafety


DHS Threat Assessment Warns About Russia, China

A “Homeland Threat Assessment” released today by the Department of Homeland Security places Russia atop the cybersecurity and foreign influence threats faced by the U.S.

“Russia—which possesses some of the most sophisticated cyber capabilities in the world—can disrupt or damage U.S. critical infrastructure networks via cyber-attacks,” it said. “Russia probably can conduct cyber attacks that would result in at least localized effects over hours to days and probably is developing capabilities that would cause more debilitating effects.”

But in his personal message introducing the report, Chad Wolf, DHS’s acting secretary, emphasized the threat of Chinese cyber attacks and propaganda. The Trump administration has sought to portray China as a cyber threat equivalent to Russia—a viewpoint that has provoked debate among national security experts not affiliated with the administration who place China’s economic espionage in a different category from the Russian threat to critical infrastructure and U.S. elections.

A DHS whistleblower recently claimed he was demoted for objecting to the administration’s attempts to downplay the Russian threat to U.S. elections (TR Daily,Sept. 9).

“While Russia has been a persistent threat by attempting to harm our democratic and election systems, it is clear China and Iran also pose threats in this space,” Mr. Wolf said. “Nation-states like China, Russia, and Iran will try to use cyber capabilities or foreign influence to compromise or disrupt infrastructure related to the 2020 U.S. presidential election, aggravate social and racial tensions, undermine trust in U.S. authorities, and criticize our elected officials.”

The threat assessment issued today is the first for DHS and is designed to “provide the American people with an overview of the information collected and analyzed by DHS employees around the world,” it said. “This inaugural HTA presents a holistic look from across the department and provides the American people with the most complete, transparent, and candid look at the threats facing our homeland.” —Tom Leithauser,