Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, January 18, 2018

Interoperability:  After publishing last week’s Advocate, I received some emails and questions about the whole interoperability issue and why it is a problem for public safety and not for commercial cellular customers. The public safety community has been providing answers about interoperability for years to all who would listen and some in Congress seemed to “get it” when the bill that contained authorization for FirstNet was approved, but a number of them still do not understand the need.

It has always been difficult for those whose only exposure to voice, text, and data communications has been through their use of a cell phone and/or tablet. Commercial networks function like their wired predecessors for voice. If you want to talk to someone, you dial a 10-digit number, the phone on the other end rings, and either the person you want to talk to answers the call or it goes to voice mail. If you want to talk to multiple people at once, you need to establish a conference call, which takes even longer to set up. The advent of 2G, 3G, and 4G wireless broadband systems saw the addition of text, data, and video services but here again, you text someone by typing in their phone number and the text you want to send. If you want to watch a video, you go to a website, select a file, and it starts streaming to your phone. If you want to send a picture or video, you can send it to one person at a time if you know their phone numbers.

If this is your starting point for understanding wireless communications systems, it is no wonder you are confused about public safety’s claim that they have been unable to communicate with neighboring agencies or even between fire and police in the same city. If you can simply dial anyone, anywhere, on any network, why should public safety have this problem? The answer is a combination of the effect of spectrum allocations by government and the fact that public safety systems are designed to cover specific geographic areas. Read the Entire Post Here

Discovery Patterns Weekly News Summary Follows:

LMR licensing activity in the US reaches record-low levels in 2017, according to FCC databaseUrgent Communications
Jan 18 02:40 Overall, the FCC has approved 13,430 applications that were submitted in 2017 for new and modified licenses in the public-safety and business-industrial arenas, based on ULS data available on Wednesday. Even if all 263 of the pending 2017 license applications were granted, the number of 2017 …

ANALYSIS: Expect much smaller money in the 600 MHz
Jan 17 18:55 AT&T spent $1 billion on 600 MHz spectrum, but just announced they are selling it. In fairness, this may not mean that AT&T doesn’t want low band spectrum. They won the bid to supply First Net with a public safety broadband network and that lets them use 20 MHz of First Net’s 700 MHz spectrum when …

Cellphone jamming system tested at Maryland prisonWATE 6 On Your Side
Jan 17 16:40 FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has signaled willingness to work on the issue, telling members of Congress he would put together a working group to address “the proliferation of contraband wireless devices in prisons and the potentially devastating implications for public safety.” Williams said Justice, which …

FCC chairman: Hawaii didn’t have ‘reasonable’ safeguardsGkMen
Jan 17 07:40 The system has come under growing scrutiny in recent months, with public safety officials complaining that it requires upgrades on several fronts. Congresswoman Gabbard is with us now. Catt said. “So, there wasn’t much we could do”. Outside of the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, Gabbard said …

FCC chairman plans to boost broadband in rural AmericaAgri-Pulse
Jan 17 00:51 However, in a briefing last week, Grace Kho, the White House’s special assistant for technology, telecommunications and cybersecurity, cautioned that expanding rural broadband will take time. This is not going to be a sprint. This will be a long time of — a long process of figuring out how to exactly move …

DHS S&T and Israeli Partners Call for Proposals on Advanced First Responder TechnologiesNewswise
Jan 16 16:40 Small businesses who were awarded contracts through this partnership are working on promising cutting-edge technologies such as unmanned search and rescue systems, public safety off-network broadband communications, and a separate autonomous drone-based search & rescue solution to help …

FirstNet’s Schrier on New Public-Safety Meetings, App Interoperability and PrivacyRadioResource Media Group
Jan 16 13:53 AT&T executives will also participate in the meetings. They are not presenting or selling but determining what public safety’s needs are, he said. We’re going to listen to what their apps are today and what they need. AT&T will be at the table to ask questions. Schrier said most applications will be …

Public Safety Network: A Boon for Tower Operators in
Jan 11 08:40 Notably, in March 2017, AT&T was selected by FirstNet to build and manage the first nationwide broadband network dedicated to America’s police, firefighters and emergency medical services. As part of the 25-year contract, FirstNet will provide AT&T with a swath of 20 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz …

FCC Proposes $500M for Rural BroadbandLight Reading
Jan 18 06:30 FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to reform the universal service fund.

FCC pushes for rural broadbandBrownfield
Jan 18 05:00 The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is calling for more high-speed broadband in rural areas. Ajit Pai says there needs to be more internet access in sparsely populated areas to close the digital divide. His order would provide more than $500 million to cooperatives and small rural carriers to build more online infrastructure, create new rules to prevent abuse and reform’s the FCC’s high-cost program. Continue reading FCC pushes for rural broadband at Brownfield Ag News.

Lawmakers Blast FCC’s Mobile Broadband ProposalMediaPost Communications
Jan 17 17:00 “Without adequate service deployment and accurate data collection for both fixed and mobile, our rural and national economy will suffer,” the lawmakers add. “Every American who has ever had to ask ‘Can you hear me now?’ while on their cell phone or has had to wait for buffering when streaming a …

Wireless Narrowband Communication in the Environment of the Internet of Things and Machine toSmart Grid Demand Response
Jan 17 03:52 Salzburg Research invites to a workshop on 08.02.2018 on Wireless Narrowband Communication in the Environment of the Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine Communication. Digital transformation is finding its way into almost all areas of life and industry. The development of the Internet of

Telstra adds narrowband capability to Australia’s leading IoT networkTicker In
Jan 17 00:35 Telstra announced a major step forward in the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) in Australia with the successful deployment of Narrowband technology in its IoT Network. Telstra now offers Narrowband coverage in major Australian cities and many regional towns. This is in addition to the

Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro joins lawsuit against the FCC over net neutrality rollbackPittsburgh Post-Gazette
Jan 16 23:55 In the wake of a controversial move by the Federal Communications Commission to deregulate the broadband industry, a group of 22 attorneys general including Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania has sued the commission for its repeal of net neutrality rules. The group filed a petition for review in the …

FirstNet’s availability should ‘raise all boats,’ drive public-safety innovation, competitionUrgent Communications
Jan 16 18:40 At best, by virtue of offering a new competitive choice for public-safety communications, it will be an engine for the continued development and implementation of reliable, state-of-the-art communications technologies for first responders. The availability of FirstNet in the marketplace will raise all boats and …

FCC Attempts to Weaken Broadband StandardNo Jitter via Business Communications Review
Jan 11 06:30 By Martha Buyer Rather than hold providers accountable, the Commission wants to lower speed requirements and loosen definition of competition.

The Coming Fiber Construction BoomLight Reading
Jan 11 02:35 “Americans are frustrated with the slow pace of broadband deployment” is a sad clich. According to FCC data for 2016 (the most recent available), 21% of census blocks — home to 10% of the US population — have no provider offering fixed broadband service at the Commission’s 25/3 Mbits/s standard, …

Verizon Offers No More Information on Preemption Offering

A Verizon Communications, Inc., spokesman said he did not have more information today on the carrier’s provisioning of preemption as part of its public safety broadband offering. On Tuesday (TR Daily, Jan. 9), Verizon spokesman Kevin King said in response to a question from TR Daily about whether Verizon had rolled out preemption by the end of last year, as it said it would do, that “Verizon does offer preemption for public safety. We’re actually about to announce a specific example where we enabled preemption for a public safety customer on New Year’s Day. I can’t share more information on that right now but I hope to be able to in 24 hours.”

Mr. King told TR Daily today that he didn’t have more information at this point. In a blog posting last week heralding the opt-in decisions of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth said that FirstNet is “the first and only network offering priority and preemption, giving first responders their own ‘fast lane’ connection to communicate and share information at all times.” When Verizon announced its public safety broadband offering last August, it said it would offer priority access immediately and preemption by the end of 2017 (TR Daily, Aug. 15, 2017).

Courtesy TRDaily


Seybold Criticizes Verizon’s Public Safety Offering

In his latest weekly commentary today, Andy Seybold, a wireless industry consultant and public safety advocate, took aim at Verizon Communications, Inc.’s public safety offering and its efforts to connect its planned public safety core to the First Responder Network Authority’s core, echoing complaints by others in the public safety community.

“The public safety community must stay focused on its many-year efforts to have a single nationwide public safety broadband network. As FirstNet and AT&T continue to build out the nationwide network, with much improved coverage, public safety must step up and embrace the FirstNet NPSBN and take advantage of its growing capabilities. AT&T has stated from the day it was awarded the FirstNet contract that it intends to win over the public safety community by continuing to demonstrate its commitment to the first responder community,” Mr. Seybold said.

“The Verizon request to connect its network core to the FirstNet/AT&T NPSBN is contrary to good business sense and contrary to all public safety has supported for many years,” Mr. Seybold argued. “There are clear security risks when connecting multiple cores and that, along with competitive business reasons, is why Verizon and other commercial carriers do not connect their cores today.” Continue reading

American Samoa Announces FirstNet Opt-in

American Samoa formally announced today that it will opt into the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) system being built by AT&T, Inc. A FirstNet spokesman yesterday had confirmed the American Samoa opt-in decision (TR Daily, Jan. 9). The Northern Mariana Islands is the last jurisdiction yet to announce that it will opt in, and it is expected to do so.

“In weighing this important decision to join FirstNet or deploy our own system, our team came to the conclusion that opting-in to FirstNet was the better solution for American Samoa and our first responders,” said American Samoa Gov.  Lolo Matalasi Moliga (I.). “I wish to express my appreciation to the Director of Homeland Security, Samana Veavea, and Commissioner of Public Safety Le’i Sonny Thompson, and their respective staffs, for their contributions to the making of this well-informed decision. We look forward to working with AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority to deploy this network.” Continue reading

NPSTC Releases LMR-to-LTE Integration Report

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council announced the release today of a report, Public Safety Land Mobile Radio (LMR) Interoperability with LTE Mission Critical Push to Talk, which it said “is designed to articulate the issues and requirements regarding integration and interoperability between LMR systems and LTE MCPTT services.

This report does not advance a notion that all public safety agencies will migrate their LMR users to the NPSBN. However, it is clear that public safety agencies will be using a mix of LMR and LTE networks in both the short and long term and will need to have effective interoperability solutions.”

Courtesy TRDaily

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, January 4, 2018

FirstNet in 2018. We ended 2017 with AT&T, the RFP award winner for the FirstNet network, with true network pre-emption already in place across not only Band 14 but also across all AT&T LTE spectrum. December 28, the deadline for the states and 2 of the 5 territories to opt in to FirstNet saw all 50 states and both territories opt in (the other 3 territories have until March 2018). The year 2017 was a very good year for the public safety community, FirstNet, and AT&T. Now it is up to AT&T and FirstNet to convince public safety departments in these states, territories, federal agencies, and the tribal nations to join in as subscribers to the services already being offered.

As FirstNet, AT&T, and others including myself have said since the RFP was issued, the law only requires that a state opt in or out. That process is now complete, except for the 3 territories and it is up to FirstNet/AT&T to convince public safety agencies to join the network. My last Advocate of 2017 outlined the choices agencies have available:

  • Join the FirstNet/AT&T network as agreed to by the state.
  • Negotiate with AT&T for better pricing, better coverage, or perhaps an agreement to allow the local agency to provide additional funding, or fiber or radio access network deployment that AT&T will then manage and operate as part of the FirstNet/AT&T network. An advantage for AT&T is it will also be able to expand its own commercial customers’ footprint as well.
  • Negotiate with AT&T and set a goal of increased coverage AT&T will have to provide in order to win the business.
  • Stay with their existing commercial broadband supplier for the long term, or for the short term, or until AT&T satisfies item 3 above.
  • Not make use of any broadband service and continue to rely on only Land Mobile Radio (LMR) for their communications.

It is in the public safety community’s best interests to have as many departments on the FirstNet system as possible. The vision for FirstNet was always to provide a nationwide, fully interoperable communications network to augment existing land mobile radio systems and to provide for the addition of data and video services to and from first responders in the field. FirstNet wants as many agencies to join as possible to prove Congress was right in allocating the spectrum and funding resources to enable the creation of FirstNet. AT&T has two motivations. First, it is obligated under the terms of the contract to sign up a specific number of public safety users (this number was provided by AT&T as part of the RFP and conforms with FirstNet expectations). If the numbers are not met penalties must be paid to FirstNet and in the event of a failure to make significant progress in adding users, FirstNet has the right to take over the network marketing aspects—something neither AT&T nor FirstNet want to see happen. Continue reading

Illinois, Colorado Opt into FirstNet

Illinois and Colorado both announced today that they will opt into the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), allowing FirstNet’s network partner, AT&T, Inc., to build their radio access networks (RANs) rather than seeking to contract with vendors to build their own RANs.  They join thirty-six other states and two territories that previously reached the same decision.  Thus far, only New Hampshire has said it plans to opt out of FirstNet.  State governors have until Dec. 28 to make opt-out decisions.  The Pacific territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands face a March 12, 2018, deadline for making opt-out notifications.

“Opting in to the FirstNet emergency responder network is an important advance for public safety in Illinois,” said Gov. Bruce Rauner (R.). “FirstNet’s technology will help us keep important lines of communication open when we most need them.” Continue reading