Experts: Some States May See Benefit in Opting Out of FirstNet System

Some states may see a benefit in opting out of having AT&T, Inc., build their radio access network (RAN) for the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) system, speakers said during a webinar this afternoon organized by IWCE. “Control is definitely a big one,” said Joe Ross, a partner at Televate LLC, a public safety consulting firm, noting that states that opt out have control over any vendors.

Dominic Arcuri, a principal at DVA Consulting LLC, said that states in areas where AT&T, FirstNet’s network partner, doesn’t have “extensive coverage” may see a benefit in opting out and having rural or regional providers serve first responders. However, the speakers noted that states that opt out will be responsible for more that constructing a RAN.

They also will have to ensure that any vendors are able to keep current with the FirstNet applications and devices deployment, as well as meet customer service and sales obligations, Mr. Ross said. He suggested that states considering whether to opt out must consider hardening, coverage, 5G capacity growth, and continued investment in an any alternative plan. Interoperability with the FirstNet network is another major issue, he noted. Continue reading

Pai, Clyburn Comment on Miami Visit

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn today commented on their visit to Miami yesterday to assess damage caused by Hurricane Irma. The Commissioners “toured the David Paulison Fire Rescue Headquarters Building, met with a Florida Public Service Commissioner and staff from the FCC’s Miami Field Office, visited NewsRadio 610 WIOD, and spoke with a team restoring cell towers and other wireless infrastructure damaged during the storm,” according to an FCC news release.

“I commend Florida’s first responders and the entire public safety community for their heroic efforts to help keep residents safe during Hurricane Irma,” Mr. Pai said in a statement. “It was inspiring to meet with these individuals, such as fire rescue personnel at the Miami-Dade Emergency Operations Center who worked tirelessly to make sure residents could get help from first responders.  I also met with broadcasters who made incredible sacrifices to keep the public informed and wireless workers bringing critical mobile services back online.  In times of an emergency, everyone involved in public safety communications has a role to play.  The lessons learned during our visit will help the FCC’s continued work to improve the performance of communications networks in future emergencies.”

“During times of greatest need, including when a natural disaster strikes, we are reminded of the incredible generosity and goodwill of those in our communities,” Ms. Clyburn said. “This was never more apparent than during our visit yesterday to South Florida where we heard countless stories from broadcasters, telecommunications providers, first responders, FCC field staff, and others who worked day and night to ensure that their communities would have a means to stay informed and keep in touch with family and friends.  There is still much more work to be done in the days and weeks ahead, including in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where more than 50% of cell sites remain out of service.  Working with my colleagues, Members of Congress, as well as state and local officials, we can translate these lessons into policies that ensure our nation’s communications networks and 9-1-1 systems remain reliable and resilient during disasters.” —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

FirstNet Delivers Final State Plans; Texas, Idaho Latest to Opt In

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) today delivered final, updated state plans to states and most territories, while Texas today became the largest state yet to announce that it will opt in, and Idaho also announced such a decision. Initial state plans were delivered in June via an online portal (TR Daily, June 19). Since then, 23 states or territories have announced their decision to opt in and have AT&T, Inc., FirstNet’s network partner, build their radio access network (RANs).

FirstNet provided the updated state plans to the states and territories today, except for Guam, American Samoa, and the Mariana Islands, which did not get their initial plans in June. A FirstNet spokesman said today that FirstNet is “still working with those territories on their plans.”

“In the near future, FirstNet expects to deliver the required official notification to Governors in the 53 states and territories that have received updated state plans today,” FirstNet said in a news release. “This notification will start the 90-day period for governors to decide whether to participate in the deployment of the network in the state or territory as proposed in the FirstNet-AT&T plan (‘opt in’) or elect to have their state or territory initiate the process to take on the responsibility for building the network in the state or territory (‘opt out’).” FirstNet said it will also notify the single points of contact (SPOCs) when it sends the official notice. Continue reading

FCC Schedules 800 MHz Band Coexistence Forum

The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, and Office of Engineering and Technology announced today that they will host a forum Nov. 6 that will focus on improving coexistence between commercial wireless and public safety licensees in the 800 megahertz band.

The event is scheduled to be held in the Commission’s meeting room and run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In a cellular reform second report and order adopted in March (TR Daily, March 23), the FCC directed staff to convene such an event with cellular licensees, public safety licensees, and public safety equipment manufacturers. “The forum on November 6th will include the perspectives of all three groups and various other interested parties in exploring the existing 800 MHz interference environment, realistic anticipated changes in that environment, and practical options for addressing both existing and anticipated interference problems without hindering technological advances in the Cellular Service,” according to a public notice released today.

Courtesy TRDaily

 

New S&T News Release: DHS S&T Awards $4.8 Million to Center for Innovative Technology to Enhance Smart Cities

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) announced today a $4.8 million contract award to the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) of Herndon, Virginia, to apply cutting-edge Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to first responders and the commercial marketplace. The award was jointly announced by DHS Acting Under Secretary for Science and Technology William N. Bryan with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe at the inaugural meeting of the Governor’s Smart Communities Working Group in Arlington, Virginia.

Learn more: https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/news/2017/09/18/news-release-st-awards-48-million-center-innovative

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, September 14, 2017

Public Safety Grade AT&T recently stated at a congressional hearing that there was no “real” definition for the term, “Public Safety Grade.” The public safety community responded with disbelief, led by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) which had published a paper addressing all of the issues needed to qualify as a Public Safety Grade Network. The document, “Defining Public Safety Grade Systems and Facilities,” was published in May of 2014 after much work by many people. Starting on page 108 of the document is a list of individuals and organizations that contributed to this report and the list is three pages long.

In all fairness to AT&T, at last week’s NPTSC meeting in Washington, DC, the AT&T senior vice president in charge of FirstNet stood up and apologized to NPSTC for his comments and then spoke about how AT&T is moving toward public safety grade status. His apology and comments were well received by NPSTC and the clarification was timely and well-articulated.

What he did not say and what I hope to show in this week’s Advocate is that there are differences between public safety grade for Land Mobile Radio (LMR) sites and an LTE network. It is important for LMR communications professionals to understand these differences and not hold AT&T to public safety grade for every cell site in the network. The methodology for hardening an LTE network is different but effective and it is these differences that need to be understood. Continue reading