Klobuchar to Reintroduce NG-911 Legislation

Courtesy: TR Daily

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) has announced that she plans to reintroduce next-generation 911 (NG-911) legislation in the Senate and said she hopes it will be included in an infrastructure package that moves in that chamber. The legislation would establish a federal grant program, she noted.

In pre-taped remarks for a virtual awards ceremony organized by the Next Generation 911 Institute in conjunction with NENA’s virtual 911 Goes to Washington event, Sen. Klobuchar said she would reintroduce the NG-911 bill with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D., Nev.).

Ms. Klobuchar, a Senate co-chair of the Congressional Next-Gen 9-1-1 Caucus, said that provisions of NG-911 legislation she introduced in the 116th Congress were included in House infrastructure bill that passed the House last summer (TR Daily, July 1, 2020).

The senator’s office did not reply to a question today on when Sen. Klobuchar planned to reintroduce the legislation.

In other remarks, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said she wants to work with her colleagues on bipartisan NG-911 legislation. She also noted that Congress has directed the FCC to address the diversion by states of 911 fees for other purposes.

Also, Rep. Richard Hudson (R., N.C.), a House co-chair of the Congressional Next-Gen 9-1-1 Caucus, said NG-911 issues are traditionally bipartisan.

Meanwhile, NENA and National Association of 911 Administrators (NASNA) officials who spoke at the  911 event reiterated their call for Congress to make what they suggested are minor changes to NG-911 provisions in the Leading Infrastructure For Tomorrow’s America (LIFT America) Act. The Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT) also expressed support for changes to the bill.

The LIFT America Act, which was introduced by the 32 Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee (TR Daily, March 11), includes $15 billion for grants to fund NG-911 deployment.

NENA Chief Executive Officer Brian Fontes said he wants to “set the record straight” on comments by “another organization” that he said “has mischaracterized NENA as opposing the legislation. That is clearly not the case. We do, however, support improving the language in a few areas of the statute.”

“We do believe they’re easy fixes, and we hope that those fixes will be made,” Mr. Fontes said, adding that “through these changes, we are convinced that the grant program will be more efficient, effective, and achievable in a timely manner.”

Mr. Fontes had no comment in response to a TR Daily question via e-mail about whether he was referring to the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, which has noted concerns that NENA and NASNA have with the bill and said that complaints about the legislation “are based either on misrepresentations of the bill language or just plain misinformation” (TR Daily, March 31). APCO is one of eight major public safety groups lobbying for the bill as part of the Public Safety Next Generation 9-1-1- Coalition.

Dan Henry, NENA’s regulatory counsel and director-government affairs, said that the group’s top priority concerning the legislation is modifying the definition of “commonly accepted standards,” which he said could exclude NENA’s i3 standard.

The definition of commonly accepted standards should not require the i3 standard, GIS (geographic information system) standards, and other standards to be approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and meet the bill’s definition of “interoperable” while not requiring other standards to meet that definition, NENA and NASNA have argued. NENA has 50 standards that haven’t been approved by ANSI, Mr. Henry said.

Mr. Henry said that lawmakers should modify the bill so commonly accepted standards are those “followed by the communications industry that enable interoperability, are consensus-based, and are developed by recognized standards development organizations.”

Mr. Henry detailed other changes that NENA and NASNA are pushing in the NG-911 legislation.

He said that (1) the definition of “interoperable” should recognize that proprietary interfaces may be needed during the NG-911 transition, (2) the Public Safety Advisory Board should be staffed with NG-911 experts, (3) the mission of a nationwide NG-911 security operations center should be clarified or establishment of the center should be deleted from the bill, and (4) Congress should defer to the FCC on reliability requirements rather than imposing additional mandates.

NASNA President Maria Jacques and NASNA Executive Director Harriet Rennie-Brown also discussed the NG-911 legislation, especially the current standards definition.

“This goes way beyond the battle of NENA i3,” Ms. Jacques said. “What about the other standards” of NENA’s and GIS standards that are not ANSI accredited? she asked.

Don Brittingham, president of consulting firm Northern Lights Consulting LLC and chair of iCERT’s Policy Committee, outlined concerns his group has with the NG-911 legislation.

He said it is also concerned with the standards definition, saying it is “overly prescriptive” and “inherently biased.” He said the bill treated i3 and other standards unfairly and said that lawmakers should amend the bill to support all NG-911 standards.

Regarding cyber provisions, Mr. Brittingham said iCERT has concerns that the bill, through establishment of the national NG-911 security operations center, puts responsibilities on the federal government instead of states.

Instead, the bill should mirror a recommendation by the FCC’s Task Force on Optimal PSAP Architecture (TFOPA) dealing with implementation of state-based emergency communications cybersecurity centers (EC3) to provide intrusion detection and protection services for public safety answering points (PSAPs) in states.

Mr. Brittingham also said there should be “explicit requirements” allowing grant funds to be used for cybersecurity.

In other remarks at today’s show, Rep. Norma Torres (D., Calif.), a former 911 dispatcher, noted that the 911 Supporting Accurate Views of Emergency Services (911 SAVES) Act that she introduced recently with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.) (TR Daily, April 2) has 50 cosponsors.

She said more cosponsors will convince the House Education and Labor Committee to hold a hearing on the legislation, and 290 cosponsors would allow the bill to be brought directly to the House floor. “Your voice is more critical than ever,” she told the public safety community.

The legislation would direct the Office of Management and Budget to change the classification of 911 dispatchers in the Standard Occupational Classification catalog. The dispatchers are currently classified as administrative support staff; advocates of the change want them to be classified as a protective service occupation. NENA said passage of the legislation is its No. 2 legislative goal after the NG-911 bill.

David Furth, deputy chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, ran down a list of 911 and other issues that the agency has worked on.

For example, he said the agency is “on track” to meet a June 25 statutory deadline for adopting new 911 fee diversion rules and expects a 911 fee diversion “strike force” to begin meeting in May or June. The panel is required to submit a report to Congress by Sept. 23. “We’ve been really pleased by the quality of the nominations that we’ve gotten,” Mr. Furth said.

Mr. Furth also noted that the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has launched an inquiry into whether national wireless service providers are complying with Commission rules that required them to start delivering 911 callers’ vertical location information by April 3 (TR Daily, April 2), but he said he couldn’t comment further. —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

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LMCC Board Members

Courtesy: TR Daily

The Land Mobile Communications Council today elected members of its board of directors for the 2021- 2022 fiscal year. They are David Smith of the Forest Industries Telecommunications (president), Doug Aiken of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (vice president), Mark Crosby of the Enterprise Wireless Alliance (secretary/treasurer), and at-large members Michele Farquhar of the Association of American Railroads, Ralph Haller of the Forestry Conservation Communications Association, and Farokh Latif of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International.

AT&T Announces Tower-to-Core Encryption

Courtesy: TR Daily

AT&T, Inc., today announced plans to deploy nationwide tower-to-core encryption on the network it is building for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). “FirstNet will be the first-ever nationwide network with this comprehensive network encryption,” it said. “That means FirstNet traffic will be automatically secured as it moves from the cell tower, through the backhaul, to the core and back again. Commercial networks may encrypt parts of the communications pathway, but only FirstNet will have encryption along the entire route. To achieve this, we’re rolling out security upgrades on every cell tower across the country. Houston and Cleveland are the first 2 cities to benefit this month, with nationwide completion expected by Q1 2022.”

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FCC Releases List of Providers Approved for EBBP

 Courtesy: TR Daily

The FCC today released a list, organized by state, district, and territory, of providers that have been accepted to participate in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program.  The list can be found at https://www.fcc.gov/ebb-providers-state.  The Commission said it expects additional providers will sign up.  

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Russian Ministry Drafts Amendments to Data Protection Law

Courtesy: TR Daily

Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development has announced that it has drafted proposed amendments to the country’s data protection law, Federal Law of 27 July 2006 No. 152-FZ, requiring telecommunications operators to request the consent of customers prior to selling their personal information.

In a report in the Russian Gazette on Mar. 29 outlining the amendments, the ministry said the amendments were developed in response to a sharp increase in violations of laws related to spam advertising. The amendments will allow telecom operators to transfer anonymized data of Russians to government agencies for specified purposes, but each case related to such sharing will be considered separately, taking into account the future burden on the business of depersonalizing data and preparing the relevant data sets. —Tony Foley, thomas.foley@wolterskluwer.com

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Draft Third NPRM Aims at Harmonizing 911 Outage Reporting Rules

Courtesy: TR Daily

The FCC plans to vote at its April 22 meeting on a draft third notice of proposed rulemaking that would propose harmonizing requirements for reporting network outages that affect 911 service and thus improving public safety.

The 911 outage draft item is one of eight items listed on the tentative agenda for the April 22 meeting released today (see separate stories.)

The NPRM proposes harmonizing “the time-frame, means, and frequency of notification from originating and covered 911 service providers to PSAPs [public safety answering points] about network disruptions. This includes requiring originating service providers to notify, via telephone and in writing through electronic means, potentially affected 911 facilities of an outage no later than 30 minutes of discovering the outage. Also, as additional information becomes available, service providers would be required to communicate such information no later than two hours after the initial notification,” the FCC said in a fact sheet released with the draft NPRM today.

The draft item would also propose standardizing “the type of information conveyed to PSAPs, which includes ‘all available material information,’ such as name of the service provider(s) offering the notification and/or experiencing the outage, date and time when the incident began, communications services affected, and potential impact on PSAPs.”

Finally, it would propose ensuring “that originating and covered 911 service providers maintain accurate PSAP contact information”; establishing “consumer notification procedures for 911 unavailability, such as service providers notifying customers of 911 outages within 60 minutes of determining the outage by providing information on their websites and Internet-related applications.” —Lynn Stanton, lynn.stanton@wolterskuwer.com  

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Draft Order Slates End of 800 MHz Rebanding


Courtesy: TR Daily

Saying the process that began in 2004 is “essentially complete,” the FCC today released a draft order in WT docket 02-55 that would end a rebanding program that moved Sprint Corp.’s commercial services to the upper portion of the 800 megahertz band and relocated public safety services to the lower end of the band.  

The process which aimed to avoid harmful interference has resulted in more than 2,100 licensees being relocated, the FCC says in the draft order, which it plans to consider at its April 22 meeting.  The draft order would direct the transition administrator to take any actions needed to terminate the program and to cease operations once that is done.  

“Nearly seventeen years after the 800 MHz Report and Order, the 800 MHz band reconfiguration program has achieved its objective — substantially alleviating the interference risk to public safety in the 800 MHz band,” the FCC draft order says. 

T-Mobile US, Inc., which acquired Sprint last year (TR Daily, April 1, 2020), asked the FCC in February to declare the rebanding project complete, and the administrator of the program subsequently submitted documentation asserting the effort was complete, the FCC draft says.  

The order would also grant T-Mobile’s request to terminate the letter of credit the company used to secure its financial obligation to pay for the costs of relocation incurred by public safety and other licensees, as well as its own relocation costs.  

In addition, the order would conclude that outstanding issues related to two 800 MHz licensees — the city of El Paso, Texas, and License Acquisitions LLC — can be addressed outside of the rebanding program, and thus do not pose an obstacle to ending the program.  

The FCC draft says the Commission accepts the administrator’s various certifications related to the completion of the program, as well as the certifications that all of the licensees, other than El Paso and License Acquisitions, have “completed their physical reconsideration activities, relocated to their post-rebanding frequencies and modified their licenses to delete their pre-rebanding frequencies or cancelled their license.” 

The order would also delete rebanding-related rules and approve the disposal of records that are no longer necessary after the termination of the rebanding program.  

The draft item is one of eight items listed on the tentative agenda for the April 22 meeting released today (see separate stories.) —Jeff Williams 

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