Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, August 17, 2017

FirstNet or SecondNet? The Middle-Class Tax Relief Act of 2012 in the section known as Title VI created FirstNet and set out the rules for building a nationwide public safety broadband network and a public-private partnership in order to build the In 2012, Congress passed and the then President of the United States signed into law the Middle-Class network using mostly private rather than federal funding. After five long years, FirstNet issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) and three companies submitted proposals (Verizon Wireless was not one of these). After much deliberation and after two of the three companies were disqualified, the contract was awarded to AT&T.

This past week, Verizon came out of hibernation and declared it will also be building out a nationwide public safety broadband network with all the elements of a network with access to the FirstNet spectrum known as Band 14 (or as some old timers call it, the D Block) which is licensed by the FCC to FirstNet. This new Verizon “Public Safety Grade” network will include pre-emption for first responders on the Verizon LTE network and a Public Safety Evolved Packet Core (EPC) that will be separate from the current Verizon back-end system.

So now we have the approved FirstNet partnership with AT&T moving forward and the sleeping giant has suddenly awakened, looked around, and raised its hand. I have to say that as an early proponent of a nationwide a public safety broadband network that will provide full interoperability between all agencies regardless of where they are in the United States or its territories, I was really surprised and dismayed at Verizon’s attempt to hang on to a few million subscribers out of the 146 million it reported in April of this year, and its apparent lack of concern for creating more, not less, interoperability issues and challenges.

This is especially when Verizon could not be bothered to bid on the FirstNet RFP, stating publicly at the time that it had little interest in low-band spectrum either with the 600-MHz auction or the FirstNet spectrum since it believed spectrum higher in frequency would be more useful for small cell or 5G technology, on which it seemed to be betting the farm. Read the Full Blog Here Continue reading

AT&T Executive Says He’s Not Surprised by Verizon Announcement

DENVER – An AT&T, Inc., executive said today that he is not surprised by Verizon Communications, Inc.’s announcement that it plans to offer priority service and preemption to public safety customers while building a dedicated public safety core (TR Daily, Aug. 15). He also said that first responders will benefit from AT&T’s plan to use a variety of bands to best meet their needs and not just Band 14. In an interview this morning with TR Daily in conjunction with the APCO 2017 show here, Chris Sambar, AT&T’s senior vice president-FirstNet, was asked if he expects states to try to get better pricing, coverage, and other terms from AT&T, which is the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) network partner, in light of the new competition from Verizon, which is seeking to match AT&T’s plan to offer priority access to opt-in states immediately and preemption by the end of this year while deploying a public safety core next year.

“I think regardless … of what Verizon announced, states are going to try and get good deals for themselves,” Mr. Sambar said. “That’s just human nature. So that’s not unexpected. And the fact that Verizon is going to be aggressive and try and keep their customers … is also not a surprise to us.”

But he added that some people “are probably a still little unclear as to what exactly they are going to be providing. I think we’ve been extremely clear on what we’re providing because it’s all contract-based.”

Mr. Sambar also responded to questions about AT&T’s plan for Band 14 in the wake of complaints from some in the public safety community and elsewhere that first responders did not fight for that band to be reallocated for public safety use only to have a commercial carrier decide to deploy it selectively. Continue reading

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, August 10, 2017

Why Public Safety Devices Need a New SIM Card This week’s PSA is based on a question I hear nearly every day. It started when AT&T won the FirstNet contract and offered up its own LTE networks in addition to what it will build out on FirstNet Band 14 spectrum. AT&T is offering early opt-in state and territories (at least 11 so far) the use of its AT&T network on a priority access basis with full pre-emption on the entire AT&T LTE network by the start of 2018.

AT&T says it is easy to start using the AT&T network for public safety. Once a state has opted in, each public safety entity will decide if it wants to join the FirstNet system and become users on the AT&T broadband network. If the answer is yes and the pricing is acceptable to the agency, all that is needed, according to AT&T, is to install a new SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) into the mobile device to be instantly considered a public safety user on the AT&T network and on Band 14 as it is built over time.

The question about why you need to install a new SIM in your device is based on a number of factors. The most important of these is that the new SIM identifies the device (and the user) as a member of the public safety community. The network is then notified that when this device is on the network, in addition to normal AT&T capabilities, the user will have access to all additional capabilities and information being made available only to the FirstNet public safety community. The AT&T network and soon FirstNet Band 14 recognizes a user as a public safety user by the SIM in the device and the information it contains. Read the Entire Blog Here  Continue reading

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate August 3, 2017

A T-Band Call to Action Public Safety Advocate: A T-Band Call to Action Many people, even some of those involved in public safety, have no idea what the T-band is and why it is of vital importance to 11 metro areas with a combined population of more than 90 million. When Congress passed Title VI of the 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief Bill creating FirstNet, and giving an additional 10 MHz of broadband spectrum to public safety, there was a “spectrum give-back” required. It turns out this “give-back” in the bill Congress passed also stated that the major cities and their suburbs using the T-Band for public safety services (But the law did not mention the business and industrial LMR users also on this protion of the spectrum) would have to suspend operations on the T-Band, “no later than 9 years after the date of engagement of this title.”

The title was enacted in February of 2012 and if you add 9 years to that it lands in 2021. Further, the law states, “Relocation shall be completed no later than 2 years after the date on which the system of competitive bidding described in subsection (a)(2) is completed.” The T-Band give-back date is drawing closer. In spite of the wonderful reports the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) wrote and submitted to Congress and the FCC, and the hours and hours of lobbying by the cities and agencies affected by this portion of the bill, Congress has shown no interest in removing this requirement from the law. Without action from Congress, and soon, the requirement to move off of the T-band will begin to present some really serious problems for both public safety agencies in these areas and the citizens they protect. The time to rally together to push out the give-back deadline is now. Read the Entire Blog Here. Continue reading

FCC Plans to Move Quickly on FirstNet Interoperability Matrix

The FCC plans to act quickly to decide the merits of an interoperability compliance matrix submitted by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), Roberto Mussenden, an attorney-adviser in the Policy and Licensing Division of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, told the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council today during a meeting held via teleconference. “We’re planning to move expeditiously on it,” said Mr. Mussenden, noting that comments were recently submitted on the matrix (TR Daily, July 18).

An order adopted last month setting procedures for Commission review of alternative state FirstNet plans instructed the Public Safety Bureau to seek comments on the matrix in an expedited fashion (TR Daily, June 22 and 23).

Also during today’s NPSTC meeting, FirstNet board member Kevin McGinnis said that the authority planned to soon release a tribal consultation plan. He noted that a report released last week by the Government Accountability Office said FirstNet should improve its tribal consultation process and assess the staffing needs of its Network Program Office before it takes over sole responsibility for managing its 25-year contract with AT&T, Inc., its network partner (TR Daily, July 20). Mr. McGinnis, who has been the board’s tribal liaison, noted that FirstNet has faced challenges consulting with tribes because the law that created FirstNet required consultation to take place through FirstNet state points of contact (SPOCs).

Mr. McGinnis said the relationship between FirstNet and AT&T is good, although he noted that there has been some confusion in the public safety community over AT&T’s “product offerings” for its current network compared to its products and services for FirstNet. “That gets quickly addressed,” he said.

Tom Sorley, chair of FirstNet’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), said the PSAC is having discussions with AT&T on the PSAC’s previous reports and other work products “about what we meant by them when we created them.”

At today’s meeting, the NPSTC board also approved a radio interoperability best practice on channel assignments and assigned a new work item on a naming sequence for LTE talk groups to its common naming channel working group.

Also, Dereck Orr, chief of the Public Safety Communications Research Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, said the PSCR is ready to start planning for a multi-year location-based services grant challenge program.

The next meeting of the NPSTC is scheduled for Sept. 6 in Washington. —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, July 27, 2017

FirstNet Coverage During the quest to obtain enough nationwide broadband spectrum for public safety, the Public Safety Alliance (PSA) and its member organizations worked industriously to convince members of the U.S. Congress and their staffs, the FCC, and the Executive Branch of the federal government that public safety needed more broadband spectrum than had been assigned to them (10 MHz, 5X5 MHz). The result of this multi-year effort was that Congress listened and in the legislation that created FirstNet, public safety was assigned 20 MHz (10X10 MHz) of spectrum (referred to as Band 14). This spectrum is in the 700-MHz band adjacent to the Public Safety Land Mobile Radio spectrum on one side and Verizon’s 700-MHz spectrum on the other side. It is ideal for longer range and better in-building penetration.

It was always assumed by the public safety community that the winning bidder of the FirstNet RFP would, of course, build out the FirstNet spectrum nationwide. Even with a full 20 MHz of spectrum to which public safety has pre-emptive access, there were still some concerns from a number of us that during an incident contained in a small area served by only one or two cell sectors, there would still be times when the network reached its maximum capacity. When AT&T won the contract and became the partner for FirstNet, it did not specify its build-out plans publicly. However, at the recent Senate Sub-committee, AT&T’s plans for the build-out were presented to those on the committee and picked up by the press. AT&T’s decision is to build out FirstNet spectrum where it is needed for capacity but nowhere else (See Urgent Communications ). Read the entire blog HERE The Discovery Patterns News Recap for the week is below: Continue reading

AT&T Consultant

AT&T, Inc., which has the 25-year contract to build the nationwide public safety broadband network being overseen by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), has hired Harlin McEwen, former chairman of FirstNet’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), as a consultant.

Courtesy TRDaily