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

FirstNet’s Competition. The law that created FirstNet is very clear when it comes to states and territories opting in or out of FirstNet. There are two ways to opt in: The governor of the state or territory decides to opt in by the December 28, 2017 deadline, or the governor simply does nothing in which case the opt in for that state is automatic. Opting out requires the state to provide the FCC, within 180 days, a plan demonstrating that the Radio Access Network (RAN), the only portion of the network authorized by law for states to build on their own, will be 100-percent compatible with the FirstNet network. The state will then negotiate a grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for some of the network. As a final step, there must be a spectrum lease agreement between the state and FirstNet. All of this is called out in the law Congress passed in 2012. These are not conditions imposed by FirstNet.

Now if a state opts out, the FirstNet mandate is that the radio access network provided by the state or its vendor must be connected to the FirstNet core when public safety users populate the FirstNet network. FirstNet has also said that secondary users may, in fact, be routed to a different core located within the state or operated by the vendor. Again, ALL public safety traffic is to be routed to the FirstNet core. This makes sense when you understand this is to be a nationwide network sharing resources and applications that is usable across the entire nation.

Once a state has opted in there are no additional federal rules that impact public safety agencies within the state. Each agency has the option to join the FirstNet system, with its existing broadband provider, or to not use any broadband services. This local level is the area in which competition is occurring. Verizon has said it will actively seek to keep its existing public safety customers and to add more customers. It is also trying to obtain permission to host its own public safety core. Both FirstNet and AT&T are opposed to this with good reason. Having multiple standalone cores does not lend itself to fulfilling the goal of full interoperability this network was envisioned to provide. I have been told by experts in the field that if the cores are connected to each other the overall system will be more difficult to secure from a cybersecurity perspective, which is high on the list of network priorities.  Read the Entire Blog here Continue reading

Spectrum, Infrastructure, Lifeline Items Set for Nov. 16 FCC Votes

The FCC announced today that it plans to vote at the agency’s Nov. 16 meeting on eight items, including an order to make more than 1,700 megahertz of spectrum available for 5G and other terrestrial wireless uses, as well as making 4 gigahertz of spectrum available for core satellite uses; efforts aimed at easing deployment of wired and wireless infrastructure; a Lifeline item; and an item on unlawful robocalls.

Also planned for votes at the meeting are items dealing with a new broadcast TV transmission standard; petitions for reconsideration from the agency’s last two quadrennial reviews of its media ownership rules; and a request for comments on a proposal to eliminate a requirement for cable TV system operators to file a particular form.

Regarding the spectrum allocation second report and order, order on reconsideration, and memorandum opinion and order in GN docket 14-177, IB dockets 15-256 and 97-95, and WT docket 10-112, the item also would “adopt, refine, or affirm” rules adopted last year in the FCC’s spectrum frontiers proceeding (TR Daily, July 14, 2016), the “sunshine” notice noted.

Regarding the deployment of wireless infrastructure, the FCC plans to consider a report and order in WT docket 17-79 that would “eliminate the requirement for historic preservation review where utility poles are replaced with substantially identical poles that can support antennas or other wireless communications equipment,” the agenda noted. Continue reading

Public Safety, Industry Entities Weigh in on NG-911 Grant Program

Public safety and industry entities have weighed in on proposed regulations for a next-generation 911 (NG-911) grant program, including on who should be eligible for funding, whether tribes should be able to directly submit applications, and the formula for distributing grants. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a notice of proposed rulemaking in September that proposed awarding NG-911 grants directly to tribal organizations, rather than to them only through states (TR Daily, Sept. 21).

The NPRM proposed modifications to the E-911 Grant Program, which was established pursuant to the ENHANCE 911 Act of 2004, which allocated $43.5 million from the proceeds of the FCC’s 700 megahertz band auction.

The modifications of the regulations proposed in September were required by Congress in the NG911 Advancement Act of 2012, which was part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which reserved $115 million for NG-911 grants from the FCC’s AWS-3 auction. Up to $110 million in actual grants will be awarded. Continue reading

Parties Urge FCC to Reform Technical Regulations

A number of parties have asked the FCC to take steps to reform its technical regulations. Comments were due earlier this week in ET docket 17-215 in response to a public notice released in August seeking comment on questions as part of an inquiry launched by the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council to assess whether the Commission’s technical rules should be modified to increase efficiency and reduce regulatory burdens.

In its comments, the Telecommunications Industry Association urged the FCC to (1) streamline its equipment authorization regulations for licensed and unlicensed next-generation wireless technologies; (2) expand the approval process for modular devices and establish a low-power radio frequency device supplier’s declaration of conformity; (3) issue procedures to test millimeter wave devices; and (4) complete its RF exposure proceeding so the Commission’s standards are harmonized with international guidelines.

“The Commission can facilitate the introduction of new technologies by modifying or eliminating outdated and unnecessary rules for legacy systems and leveraging the insight and technical expertise of standards development organizations (‘SDOs’) like ATIS,” said the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions. “These outdated regulations, if left unchanged, could slow the deployment of new, improved products and services.  Next, ATIS offers recommendations for how the FCC can best utilize SDOs to facilitate technology transitions.  Consumers would benefit greatly from the Commission’s increased reliance on open standards and industry best practices instead of prescriptive government mandates.  Uniquely positioned to convene key stakeholders to address complex technical challenges, SDOs minimize the need for new regulations and the associated burdens that can negatively affect industry innovation.” Continue reading

58% of Cell Sites Out of Service in Puerto Rico

About 58% of the cell sites were out of service in Puerto Rico today because of Hurricane Maria, the FCC reported, although about 64% of the population was reported covered by wireless carriers last week due to roaming agreements. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, 49.6% of cell sites remained out of service, including all sites in St. John.

About 93% of the population was covered by wireless carriers last week. “Since there are widespread power outages in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the FCC has received reports that large percentages of consumers are without either cable services or wireline service (one Puerto Rico cable company has reported that approximately 3% (up from 1% last week) of its consumers have had service restored),” the report noted. “In Puerto Rico, there are no major switches that are affected.”

Courtesy TRDaily


59% of Cell Sites in Puerto Rico Out of Service

About 59% of the cell sites were out of service in Puerto Rico today because of Hurricane Maria, the FCC reported, although about 64% of the population was reported covered by wireless carriers due to roaming agreements. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, 39.7% of cell sites remained out of service, including 88.9% of the sites in St. John. About 93% of the population was covered by wireless carriers. One major switch in Puerto Rico was toll isolated.

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC Wants to See ‘Substantive Data’ In 3.5 GHz Band Proceeding

FORT WORTH, Texas – The FCC wants parties to submit “meaningful substantive data” in response to a notice of proposed rulemaking adopted by the Commission this week seeking views on whether it should modify its rules for priority access licenses (PALs) in the 3.5 gigahertz band, an FCC official said yesterday at the Competitive Carriers Association’s Annual Convention here.

Among other things, the FCC is seeking comments on whether it should modify the PAL framework so a PAL term will be 10, rather than three, years with an expectation of renewal, and PAL areas will consist of partial economic areas (PEAs) rather than smaller census tracts (TR Daily, Oct. 24).

Nese Guendelsberger, senior deputy chief of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, said during a session yesterday on low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum that the agency hopes to “make changes around the edges” of the PAL framework to better spur innovation and investment. “Hopefully, we will find the right balance,” she said.

While CTIA and larger carriers such as Verizon Communications, Inc., AT&T, Inc., and T-Mobile US, Inc., support the rule changes, wireless Internet service providers and rural wireless carriers complain that they could essentially make the spectrum a big carrier band, shutting out smaller players. Continue reading