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

T-Band Revisited, New FirstNet Authority CEO. Just to refresh your memories, the T-Band is the 470–512-MHz spectrum that was allocated to UHF-TV channels 14-20 that has since been made available to both public safety and, in some areas, business Land Mobile Radio (LMR) users. This was implemented in a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) action in 1971 and today there are eleven major metro areas that make use of the T-Band.

When Congress passed the bill authorizing FirstNet it included other provisions as well. One of these was that the T-Band would be available for spectrum auction nine years after the bill was signed. Once the auctions were over, the public safety community would have to vacate the spectrum within another two years. Those in Congress who added this provision to the bill indicated they had to have a “give-back” of some type to help them justify the release of ten additional megahertz of 700-MHz spectrum for public safety. It was not clear in the law who would pay for T-Band users to move off the T-Band nor where the FCC would find spectrum to accommodate them.

Some in Congress at the time FirstNet was passed into law believed FirstNet would be able to absorb all of the existing LMR users in these eleven metro areas. However, as of today, FirstNet is not ready to take over complete public safety-grade services including off-network voice communications and other functions needed by first responders. Therefore, as the deadline approaches, efforts to have Congress review and rescind this portion of the law have been stepped up.

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Transportation Department Reaffirms Commitment to 5.9 GHz Band

The Transportation Department today released new guidance for automated vehicles that, among other things, reaffirms its commitment to ensuring that transportation safety applications can use the 5.9 gigahertz band.

The new guidance, “Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0” “builds upon — but does not replace — voluntary guidance” known as “Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety” that was released last year (TR Daily, Sept. 12, 2017), DoT said. Last year’s AV guidance was the first for the Trump administration and followed guidance issued by the Obama administration in 2016 (TR Daily, Sept. 20, 2016).

In AV 3.0, the Transportation Department reaffirmed that “the Department is continuing its work to preserve the ability for transportation safety applications to function in the 5.9 GHz spectrum.”

“Throughout the Nation there are over 70 active deployments of V2X communications utilizing the 5.9 GHz band,” DoT said. “U.S. DOT currently estimates that by the end of 2018, over 18,000 vehicles will be deployed with aftermarket V2X communications devices and over 1,000 infrastructure V2X devices will be installed at the roadside. Furthermore, all seven channels in the 5.9 GHz band are actively utilized in these deployments. In addition to the Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC)-based deployments, private sector companies are already researching and testing Cellular-V2X technology that would also utilize the 5.9 GHz spectrum.”

DoT said that it “is continuing its work to preserve the ability for transportation safety applications to function in the 5.9 GHz spectrum while exploring methods for sharing the spectrum with other users in a manner that maintains priority use for vehicle safety communications. A three-phase test plan was collaboratively developed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the FCC has completed the first phase. Phases 2 and 3 of the spectrum sharing test plan will explore potential sharing solutions under these more real-world conditions.”

The FCC has not yet released the results of the Phase 1 testing, which was done in the FCC’s lab, on sharing of the 5.9 GHz band between DSRC and Wi-Fi operations. The next two phases of testing are expected to be done in the field. Continue reading

FCC to Assess Results of Nationwide WEA/EAS Test

The FCC plans to assess the results of today’s nationwide wireless emergency alert/Emergency Alert System test, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief Lisa Fowlkes said in a blog posting. “Now that the nationwide test is complete, the next step is to assess the results and identify areas for improvement. The FCC is committed to working with FEMA and other stakeholders to support this effort,” she said.

“We plan to engage with FEMA and wireless providers to learn how today’s Wireless Emergency Alert test performed.  In addition, the radio and television providers that participated in the accompanying Emergency Alert System test will file reports with us about their experience receiving and retransmitting FEMA’s test message.  As we’ve done in the past, we will analyze that data to identify any necessary EAS improvements.  We also welcome feedback from the public about their experience with the test on both systems.  We look forward to assessing all the information available and doing our part to continue strengthening these life-saving alerting systems.”

Courtesy TRDaily

DAC Recommends IP CTS Metrics, TRS Access at Emergency Shelters

In its last meeting under its current charter, the FCC’s Disability Advisory Committee today approved recommendations to the FCC regarding the compatibility of real-time text (RTT) with refreshable Braille displays, the integration of RTT in telecommunications relay service (TRS) operations, metrics for Internet protocol captioned telephone service (IP CTS), and access to TRS at emergency shelters.

The emergency shelter recommendation urges the FCC to extend its June ruling to allow all TRS providers to be compensated for calls by unregistered TRS users from temporary TRS devices in emergency shelters, and for the FCC to issue an annual public notice to inform emergency shelter providers as well as TRS providers and individuals that TRS calls from emergency shelters will be reimbursable if the shelters provide telecommunications services to the general public. Continue reading

Panelists Point to Increasing 5G, IoT Public Safety Role

The move to 5G and the increasing availability of Internet of things (IoT) devices will bring numerous benefits — along with some challenges — to public safety operations as the country moves toward next-generation 911 (NG-911) services, speakers said today at a Telecommunications Industry Association event.

“Creating a strong, nationwide 5G infrastructure will allow public safety answering points and first responders to rely on the Internet of Things to carry out their crucial mission effectively and efficiently,” TIA Chief Executive Officer Wes Johnston said. The deployment of IoT devices will also present “new challenges” for public safety officials, he said, ranging from implementation costs to concerns about interoperability between new and existing technologies.

“In order to fully harness the potential of these emerging technologies, industry experts are going to have to work hand in hand with first responders and government officials to ensure a smooth and seamless integration of next generation technologies into the evolving existing public safety networks,” Mr. Johnston said.

There is “quite a bit of focus” in Congress on IoT issues, Rep. Susan Brooks (R., Ind.) said at the event, adding communications systems need to optimized to ensure the “incredible skills” of the nation’s first responders can be deployed effectively.

“[I]f they can’t communicate and they arrive [at a scene] and can’t find out what the game plan is, then, quite frankly, it’s an incredible waste of resources and it impedes their ability to save lives,” Rep. Brooks said.  “In this incredibly … fast-paced world, it’s just so easy for us to take for granted the fact that we have these technologies, but yet we’ve got to make sure that they work.”

It is important that Congress explore how 5G “can help us save lives and enhance public safety communications,” Ms. Brooks said. She pointed to her state’s implementation of text-to-911 as a sign of how important new technologies can be to enhancing emergency services. Continue reading

FCC Urged to Adopt Indoor 911 Z-Axis Accuracy Standard

A technology vendor and a locality have urged the FCC to adopt a 911 Z-Axis indoor location accuracy standard that is more precise than one proposed by national wireless carriers.

The comments were filed in PS docket 07-114 in response to an industry proposal for a z-axis, or vertical, standard submitted in August.

In the industry proposal, which was submitted by an FCC-mandated deadline that was set in a 2015 order (TR Daily, Jan. 29, 2015), the carriers recommended a z-axis metric “of +/- 5 meters for 80% of fixes from mobile devices capable of delivering barometric pressure sensor-based altitude estimates” (TR Daily, Aug. 7).

The industry proposal was included in a cover letter to a report on the results of indoor location accuracy testing conducted by a test bed established by CTIA on behalf of the industry. The report recommended additional testing.

Yesterday, as TR Daily reported (TR Daily, Oct. 1), public safety entities filed comments expressing their opposition to the z-axis standard proposed by the carriers and pushing for a more precise metric. In its comments, CTIA said the Commission should not adopt the standard and should instead allow the industry to conduct further testing.

In its comments yesterday, NextNav LLC, one of two vendors whose technology was tested in the test bed established by CTIA, said that “The Stage Z test bed provided the fourth opportunity for NextNav to demonstrate that its Metropolitan Beacon System (‘MBS’) technology provides vertical location accuracy of within 3 meters for at least 80 percent of wireless calls to E911 emergency services. Specifically, the Stage Z Report indicates that NextNav’s MBS technology was accurate within 1.8 meters across all three morphologies tested.” Continue reading

FCC Proposes Rules for Direct 911 Dialing by MLTS

The FCC today unanimously adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) to allow for direct dialing to 911 and to provide the location information of callers.

The FCC adopted the NPRM in PS docket 17-239 pursuant to two new laws, the Kari’s Law Act and RAY BAUM’S Act.  The Kari’s Law Act, which was enacted in February, is named after Kari Dunn, who was killed by her estranged husband in 2013 in a Texas motel room as her daughter attempted to call for help but couldn’t reach 911 because she didn’t dial “9” first.

Before the FCC adopted the item today, Kari Dunn’s father, Hank Hunt, spoke in favor of it.  “Kari’s daughter dialed 911 four times during her mother’s attack.  But not one of her calls ever reached 911 because the hotel phone required guests to dial a ‘9’ for an outbound line before dialing 911,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, an early advocate of state and federal adoption of Kari’s Law.

“Now, it’s our turn to act for Kari.  In this notice, we propose rules to implement Kari’s Law so that when Americans dial 911 from multi-line telephone systems, which are commonly used in office buildings and hotels as well as on campuses, they can reach emergency services,” Chairman Pai said in a statement.

“But sometimes, being able to reach emergency services isn’t enough.  For example, if you’re calling 911 from a large office building, it’s important that first responders know where you are in that building so they can find you,” he continued.

“That’s why we’re also proposing to mandate that 911 calls from MLTS include a dispatchable location and that this requirement take effect at the same time as the compliance date set forth in Kari’s Law.  And we are seeking comment on the feasibility of requiring a dispatchable location for 911 calls from other technological platforms, including fixed telephony services, interconnected and other VoIP services, and Internet-based Telecommunications Relay Services, pursuant to section 506 of RAY BAUM’s Act,” he said. Continue reading