FCC to Consider High-Cost, Spectrum, Robocall, Texting Items Dec. 12

The FCC at its Dec. 12 meeting plans to consider items to provide additional high-cost support funding for rate of return (RoR) carriers while encouraging them to deploy faster broadband service and to establish an incentive auction format for allocating licenses next year in the agency’s spectrum frontiers proceeding.

The FCC also plans to vote on items addressing robocalling, the regulatory status of texting, a consolidated communications marketplace report mandated by Congress earlier this year, the agency’s quadrennial review of its media ownership rules, and rules governing the display of broadcast licenses.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m.

“Because of the closure of the federal government for a National Day of Mourning for President George H.W. Bush on Wednesday, December 5, the Commission has determined that it is in the public interest to delay the onset of the sunshine period prohibition contained in Section 1.1203 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.1203,” according to the “sunshine” notice, which was released one day early today because of the FCC’s closure tomorrow. “Accordingly, consistent with Section 1.1200(a) of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.1200(a), the Commission has modified its rules so that the sunshine period prohibition will begin at 11:59 PM on Thursday, December 6, rather than at 11:59 PM on Wednesday, December 5.”

The text of the Connect America Fund (CAF) draft report and order, further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM), and order on reconsideration in WC dockets 10-90, 14-58 and 07-135 and CC docket 01-92 is aimed at addressing “the challenges that rate-of-return carriers face by taking steps to promote broadband deployment, ensure the efficient use of resources, and provide sufficient and predictable support necessary to increase broadband deployment.” Continue reading

NIST Eyes Cybersecurity of Public Safety Devices

The National Institute of Standards and Technology today published a draft report to explore ways to ensure the cybersecurity of the smartphones, tablets, and wearables that public safety officials are increasingly using on the job.

“Public safety practitioners utilizing the forthcoming nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) will have smartphones, tablets, and wearables at their disposal.  Although these devices should enable first responders to complete their missions, any influx of new technologies will introduce new security vulnerabilities,” NIST said.

“The overarching goal of this work is to identify security objectives for public safety mobile and wearable devices, enabling jurisdictions to more easily select and purchase secure devices and device manufacturers to design and develop them,” NIST added.

The report noted that public safety workers often use and transmit more sensitive information, such as medical data, than the typical commercial user.  NIST set a Jan. 7, 2019, deadline for comments on the draft report. — Tom Leithauser, tom.leithauser@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

Colorado Authority Seeks Reconsideration of Interoperability Order

The Boulder, Colo., Regional Emergency Telephone Service Authority (BRETSA) has filed a petition for reconsideration of an order (TR Daily, Oct. 23) released by the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau in October that dismissed as premature a request by the Colorado Public Safety Broadband Governing Body (CPSBGB) asking that the Commission clarify guidelines and requirements concerning interoperability and roaming between the nationwide public safety broadband network being built by AT&T, Inc., for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and wireless carriers (TR Daily, July 9).

The order adopted Oct. 23 in PS dockets 16-269, 12-94, and 06-229, and WT docket 06-150 noted that the Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology subsequently asked the FCC not to take any action at this time on the CPSBGB’s filing (TR Daily, July 16). “In light of our dismissal of the Request, we also find the filings by other parties supporting the Request to be moot,” the order said. “If other parties have concerns that they believe warrant Commission action, they may petition accordingly.” Continue reading

S&T Demonstrates Tech During Hazmat Scenario

Houston, TX – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is presenting a demonstration of integrating emergency response technologies during a simulated HAZMAT scenario at the Port of Houston on December 5, 2018. The Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) – Harris County Operational Experimentation (OpEx) will involve a coordinated response by Houston public safety agencies, FEMA, the U.S. Coast Guard and industry partners.

Over the past year, DHS S&T partnered with Houston-area public safety agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the DHS Office of Emergency Communications to identify technical capabilities that could assist first responders at the scene of an emergency. Situational awareness, responder physiological and patient monitoring, personnel location tracking, and enhanced communications were identified as priority concerns. The OpEx will evaluate how DHS-developed commercial and existing first responder technologies integrate during an emergency to fill these gaps while using open standards.

WHO:             Sponsor
DHS S&T Next Generation First Responder Program

                         Host
Public Safety Agency Partners

                         Public Safety Agency Partners
United States Coast Guard
                         Federal Emergency Management Agency
                         DHS Emergency Communications Division
                         Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office
                         Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
                         Harris County Sheriff’s Office
                         Harris County Central Technology Services
                         Harris County Community Emergency Response Team
                         Houston Fire Department
                         Houston Police Department
                         Houston Information Technology Services-
                         Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department
                         Atascocita Fire Department
                         SouthEast Texas Regional Advisory Council

                        Technology Partners
 ARES Security Corporation
                        AT&T Corporation
                        Centrex Solutions LLC
                        FEMA Integration Public Alert and Warning System Office
                        Haystax, a Fishtech Group Company
                        Integrated Solutions for Systems, Inc. (IS4S)
                        Intrepid Networks, LLC.
                        Keys Net LLC.
                        Luna Innovations, Inc.
                        Metronome Software, LLC
                        MobileIron Inc.
                        National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory
                        N5 Sensors, Inc.
                        Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
                        SensorUp, Inc.
                        Sonim Technologies, Inc.
                        TRX Systems, Inc.
                        Utility Associates Inc.

WHAT:           Media availability and demonstration of the NGFR – Harris County OpEx

WHEN:          1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. CST, Wednesday, December 5, 2018

WHERE:        1:00 p.m. – Remarks
                        Port Coordination Center (follow signs for Police Station)
                        Port of Houston, 111 East Loop North, Houston, TX 77029
                        1:45 p.m. – Technology Demonstration
                        Sam Houston Tour Boat Pavilion, 7300 Clinton Drive, Houston, TX 77020

To attend the press availability and demonstration, credentialed media must RSVP to NGFR@hq.dhs.gov by Tuesday, December 4, 2018 to register and receive a media packet and additional information about photographs and recording at the Port of Houston. Media must register on-site.  

S&T, Industry, Responders Partner, Address Security Concerns

Everyday across the nation, our first responders answer calls for help. We’ve all witnessed the heroic, coordinated efforts to respond to the California wildfires, the heartbreak of all-too-frequent active shooter incidents, and the daily dedication of law enforcement, fire fighters, and emergency medical services (EMS) to keep our communities safe and secure. Through it all, most of us rarely consider the technology first responders use to fulfill their mission and how that technology must work and integrate seamlessly into their operations to help them face increasingly dangerous threats.

DHS S&T’s Next Generation First Responder Apex Program (NGFR) works with public safety agencies to ensure the technology we research and develop for responders is not only innovative but has the capability to integrate with agencies’ existing technology. Beyond simply aiding responders in their mission, this technology can ultimately keep our responders better protected, connected and fully aware.

Over the past year, DHS S&T has worked with local Houston, Texas, public safety agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard to assess some of their technical needs. We asked these responders what threats kept them up at night, what capabilities they wish they had, and how we could improve upon their existing technology. Working with the agencies that helped Houston survive Hurricane Harvey, their priorities were improving operational communication, operational coordination, responder safety and overall situational awareness. The NGFR program team partnered with industry and worked tirelessly to address these concerns.

This week, DHS S&T heads to Houston where we’re working with public safety and industry partners to demonstrate the operational value of cutting-edge first responder technologies during the NGFR – Harris County Operational Experimentation (OpEx). Using open standards and guidance from the NGFR Integration Handbook, the OpEx will evaluate how DHS-developed, commercial, and existing first responder technologies will integrate during a multi-jurisdictional coordinated response to a HAZMAT scenario at the Port of Houston.

The goal of this OpEx is to advance first responder innovation by showcasing the promise and potential of the next generation first responder. To do this, DHS S&T and partners will assess the integration of Internet of Things sensors into advanced situational awareness platforms, investigate the technical requirements of a coordinated response during a disaster, and demonstrate how integrated solutions deliver greater operational impact for public safety agencies across the nation.

This is a great endeavor and could not have been accomplished without the time and dedication from our Houston-area and Harris County public safety agency and industry partners for their time, dedication, and determination for a successful exercise. Homeland security begins with hometown security. It is partnerships like these that help us show the world the future of first responder technology.

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