Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, February 14, 2019

Spreading the Word.  It’s Valentine’s Day! I hope it is a good one for all of you. Last week’s Advocate drew many good comments about the lack of press coverage of FirstNet. It appears as though this lack of news stories in local media has been noticed by others and that this will be changing sooner rather than later. So, I thought perhaps I would take a crack at writing an article for local news outlets including newspapers and perhaps even as a story of interest for local TV news shows.

To write an article in a newspaper that people want to read, it must start off with a catchy headline and the first paragraph must be a real grabber to hook people so they will want to read the entire article. Then, of course, is the old adage of tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. I learned the angles of newsprint journalism over the years of writing a newsletter for Forbes on Wireless Communications where I was coached by the best in the industry, and during thirty years of publishing variously titled thirty-six-page newsletters every month. However, writing for a news outlet where readers are not experienced in anything wireless besides their own cell phones and writing for an audience that is wireless-literate are completely different things. With that said, I will now take a crack at an article for a news outlet.

Public Safety Has New Partner to Fight Crime, Save Lives

We all use cell phones. We talk, text, and send pictures and videos to others with them, check the news, and stream movies. Cell phones are a way of life, delivering three or more means for conveying information to others. Meanwhile, the public safety community, using “Land Mobile Radio,” has had only voice to communicate with those in the field. Yes, they can and do use their own or agency-supplied cell phones when needed. However, during large events and major incidents, public safety had not been guaranteed access to networks congested with citizen’s calls. Read the Entire Post Here Continue reading

Entities Suggest FCC Seek More Info for 911 Fee Diversion Reports

Parties have suggested that the FCC seek additional information from states for annual reports to Congress on 911 fee diversion. Several entities weighed in on 911 fee diversions in the wake of a report released by the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau in December that said nearly 10% of the total 911 fees collected by all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia in 2017 were diverted to other purposes (TR Daily, Dec. 19, 2018).

Diversions occurred in Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the report. “The total amount of 911/E911 funds diverted by all reporting jurisdictions in calendar year 2017 was $284.9 million, or approximately 9.70% of total 911/E911 fees collected,” it added. The annual report is mandated by the New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008 (NET 911 Act).

“The annual reports are helpful for providing insight into the nation’s 9-1-1 ecosystem and combatting fee diversion, but as APCO has previously commented, the Commission could make the reports more useful,” the Association of Public-Safety Officials-International said in its filing in PS docket 09-14. “For the eleventh and subsequent annual reports on 9-1-1 fee collection and expenditure, the Commission should revise the information collection questionnaire consistent with APCO’s suggestions.”

“Ending fee diversion, while essential, will not ensure ECCs [emergency communications centers] have the resources they need,” APCO also stressed. “Significant federal funding is necessary to modernize the nation’s 9-1-1 systems and could provide the additional benefit of serving as a compelling deterrent to fee diversion.”

“States need clear notice about what constitutes fee diversion in order to appropriately document and combat the practice,” APCO added. “For example, the Commission has ‘generally determined that funds used to support public safety radio systems … are not 911-related,’ but that expenditures to integrate radio systems with 9-1-1 could be 9-1-1-related where sufficient documentation is provided. While APCO agrees with this particular guidance, it may be helpful for the Commission to provide specific examples of what constitutes fee diversion in advance of future information collections, for example, by including a record of its previous determinations and descriptions of how states have demonstrated that an expenditure is ‘911-related.’”

APCO also noted that the FCC’s “annual questionnaire asks several questions related to NG9-1-1 services and expenditures. The report’s information on NG9-1-1 could be made more useful by providing a comprehensive understanding of what constitutes NG9-1-1, how states are ensuring interoperability, and the approaches being taken to achieve NG9-1-1 capabilities.”

The FCC also “should collect and report more detailed information on the ‘other’ service types for 9-1-1 calls, meaning not identified as wireline, wireless, or VoIP calls,” APCO said. “As technology evolves and provides new methods for contacting 9-1-1, these ‘other’ types of calls could have implications for public safety telecommunicators’ and callers’ experience during an emergency. For example, an upward trend in real-time text 9-1-1 calls will likely warrant technology and training changes for ECCs.”

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission said it “has no knowledge of any 911 fee diversion in Colorado. All 911 funding is local, and we are unaware of any local 911 fee diversion. However, we believe that it is important to remember that there is a division of responsibility for oversight of 911 services at the federal, state and local government levels, with overlap in some areas. For example, both the FCC and the states both have roles in overseeing network reliability, outage reporting, and outage mitigation.

“Regarding the actual handling of 911 calls by public safety telecommunicators, and how state-authorized 911 surcharge funds are spent, this is an area that is solely the responsibility of state and local governments,” the COPUC added. “Although some states have chosen to use 911 surcharge funds in a manner that, from the FCC’s perspective and role, is not consistent with their intended uses, the COPUC does not believe that this is a problem for the FCC to solve. How state governments or local governments expend 911 surcharge funds is a matter that they must resolve.

“To the extent that federal funds are to be made available for use at the state and local level, it is appropriate to only make those funds available to state and local governments that spend their funds in a manner that is consistent with the statutorily allowed use of those funds,” the COPUC added.

It also recommended that the FCC “encourage states in undertaking auditing authority of providers regarding remittance of 911 surcharges” and “[c]onsider adding the topics of state MLTS [multi-line telephone system] legislation and non-surcharge-based 911 funding to future editions of the FCC’s annual report to Congress.”

The Boulder (Colo.) Regional Emergency Telephone Service Authority (BRETSA) renewed its request for the FCC “to adopt regulations and/or develop information which will (i) make auditing of 9-1-1 fee remittances feasible for local and state authorities, (ii) identify whether there is under-remittance of 9-1-1 fees on prepaid service, and (iii) address application of 9-1-1 fee requirements to evolving technologies and markets.” Continue reading

FCC Announces 700 MHz Band Relicensing Process

The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau released a public notice today announcing the process for relicensing 700 megahertz band spectrum in unserved areas. “We implement the Commission’s long-standing auto-termination process here, in combination with the additional filing procedures established below to address the failure of a licensee to make required filings,” the bureau said in the public notice in WT docket 06-150. “If a licensee does not file either a request for extension of time before the construction deadline or the required construction notification within 15 days after the construction deadline (as required by Section 1.946 of the Commission’s rules), we presume that the license has not been constructed or the coverage requirement has not been met.”

It also said that licensees “will be required to file an electronic coverage map that demarcates the geographic portion of the licensed area that the licensee will retain and the geographic area that will be returned to the Commission for reassignment” under the agency’s keep what you service rules. “Pursuant to the Commission’s rules, relicensing of unserved areas will occur through a two-phase application process, beginning with a 30-day Phase 1 filing window, followed by a Phase 2 rolling window for applications,” according to the public notice. “Applications for available unserved areas must be filed via ULS, and applicants must submit a shapefile describing the areas for which they seek a license.”

Courtesy TRDaily

 

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, February 7, 2019

Sometimes it can be a real challenge to come up with a subject I think would be of interest to my readers. This week seems particularly difficult. FirstNet is humming along ahead of its required build-out for Band 14 while Verizon continues to run expensive commercials in an effort to prove to public safety that it is the best network. We all remember how Verizon throttled fire personnel and equipment during wildland fires in California but it continues its attempts to divide the public safety community between it and FirstNet. Even so, FirstNet growth in terms of new agencies added in only the last three months, it is clear that most departments understand FirstNet is the “Interoperable Public Safety Network” dedicated to first responders while other commercial carriers are simply that: commercial broadband carriers.

The FirstNet network was not thrust upon the public safety community by network operators though some were certainly supportive of the process. Rather, it was the public safety community itself that came together to walk the Halls of Congress, battle with those in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) who did not believe public safety needed the additional spectrum known as the D Block, fight off both T-Mobile and Sprint, which at one point went as far as to put up a website to try to convince others that the spectrum should be auctioned as open to commercial networks. The public safety community, with assistance from then Vice President Joe Biden who was/is a staunch believer in public safety, fought for FirstNet from day one and it became THE public safety network.

this is not to say there are no detractors today, some of which have not become part of FirstNet and may not for a while. Several departments have balked at FirstNet (Built with AT&T) having a monthly data limit specified in its contract even though FirstNet has stated publicly that it will never throttle a public safety agency. It appears corporate AT&T requires the limit but FirstNet understands that under no circumstance can public safety be throttled, especially during an incident. This is one area that needs to be clarified so it does not keep more agencies from joining.  Read the Entire Post Here. Continue reading

California Refiles WEA Test Waiver Request

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has refiled its request for a waiver to conduct an earthquake warning wireless emergency alert (WEA) test in Oakland. In a filing Friday in PS docket 15-91, Cal OES said it wants to conduct the test on March 27 with an alternative date of April 10. Last month, it asked to conduct the test on Feb. 6, but the FCC was not able to act on it because of the partial government shutdown (TR Daily, Jan. 4). In November, it withdrew an earlier waiver request due to the resources needed to tackle wildfires in the state (TR Daily, Nov. 30, 2018).

Courtesy TRDaily

 

Sprint Reports 800 MHz Rebanding Progress

In its latest report to the FCC on 800 megahertz rebanding progress, Sprint Corp. said that last month all retuning in NPSPAC spectrum was completed in the Southern California and San Antonio, Texas, regions. Sprint said that “all NPSPAC licensees across the entire United States, including all Border Areas[,] and territories have now retuned.” 

“Additionally during the month of January, the County of San Bernardino California completed its 800 MHz retune. San Bernardino County is the largest county in the United States by area, and the County system was one of the largest retunes Sprint and public safety worked to complete during the length of this initiative. As a result of the County completing its retune, Sprint can finally report that all 800 MHz rebanding is complete in the Nevada NPSPAC Region – the forty-sixth NPSPAC Region to be completed,” the carrier said in its filing in WT docket 02-55.

 Sprint added, “Currently only 9 of the 55 NPSPAC Regions remain incomplete, with only a handful of public safety licensees left located in only three of these remaining nine NPSPAC Regions (Southern California, El Paso – Texas and San Antonio – Texas). Overall, there are 18 total licensees remaining and only six of those eighteen remaining are public safety. One non-public safety licensee remains in the New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Dallas, Austin and Lubbock NPSPAC Regions. All public safety retuning is complete in these six non-Border area NPSPAC Regions,” Sprint added.- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

 

ARRL Seeks to Withdraw Petition as Group Reviews Strategy

The American Radio Relay League has asked the FCC for permission to withdraw without prejudice a petition for rulemaking it filed in December that asked the FCC to adopt provisions in the Amateur Radio Parity Act (ARPA), private land-use relief legislation that the group has failed to convince Congress to pass (TR Daily, Jan. 4).

 The requested withdrawal, which was posted online Friday, was filed in response to a resolution adopted by ARRL’s Board of Directors at the group’s annual meeting last month, saying that the board wants “to review, re-examine, and reappraise ARRL’s regulatory and legislative policy with regard to private land use restrictions, with the intent to renew, continue and strengthen the ARRL’s effort to achieve relief from such restrictions.”

The resolution also said that the group should ask lawmakers who have reintroduced the Amateur Radio Parity Act to refrain from pushing the legislation absent further ARRL input. Continue reading