In a blog posting today, Lisa Fowlkes, chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, highlighted actions that the agency took in 2018 on the 911 front and noted that much of the work will continue next year. “There is no higher priority at the FCC than promoting reliable 911 service,” she said.
“As we approach the end of 2018, I thought I’d recap our work this year to strengthen emergency calling and highlight some of our next steps for 2019.” Ms. Fowlkes summarized FCC proceedings on multi-line telephone systems, 911 call routing, and 911 location accuracy and said the bureau is finalizing its latest report to Congress on state diversion of 911 surcharges. “Lastly, I want to emphasize that strengthening 911 is not the FCC’s job alone; it’s a team effort,” she said. “In 2019, we will continue to work collaboratively with public safety organizations, government partners, industry, public interest groups, and other stakeholders on this important mission.”
Looking Back and Looking Forward. As we enter the 21st month of the 25-year contract between FirstNet the Authority and FirstNet (Built with AT&T), the last three of this year’s Public Safety Advocates will examine what has already transpired and what may lie ahead for FirstNet in 2019. As you read these three Advocates, keep in mind that had the contract been awarded to a vendor that was focused simply on building out Band 14 (the public safety spectrum), this vendor would only have been required to have 60-percent of the network built out in metro areas at this point in time.
Instead, the RFP winner, AT&T, offered up all of its existing LTE spectrum plus Band 14. This had a significant impact on public safety communications. First, today, only 21 months into the contract, FirstNet (Built with AT&T) is providing far more than 60-percent coverage in metro areas with full priority access including pre-emption where and when needed. Further, AT&T has stated that as it continues to build out its own LTE network, the FirstNet network will also have access and when it starts building out its 5G system, FirstNet will be part of that, too.
The questions I will ask and try to answer are about Push-To-Talk (PTT), both on- and off-network, coverage that still needs to be completed in metro, suburban, and rural areas, and finally what lies ahead for 2019.
All this will be weighed against goals that created FirstNet: To have a Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) for public safety’s use including full pre-emption. We have not yet reached this goal but it is still in early in the development of the network. Some believe we can come close to achieving this goal but there will be some agencies that do not join FirstNet, at least in the next few years. I have to believe that as these agencies recognize the advantages of fully interoperable communications for the first time in the history of public safety communications, they will join in and this goal will eventually be realized. Read the Entire Post here. Continue reading
The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau today granted a waiver in PS dockets 15-91 and 15-94 to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to conduct wireless emergency alert (WEA) tests on Dec. 12 for the Surry Nuclear Power Station and Feb. 20, 2019, for the North Anna Nuclear Power Station (TR Daily Nov. 30).
The FCC at its Dec. 12 meeting plans to consider items to provide additional high-cost support funding for rate of return (RoR) carriers while encouraging them to deploy faster broadband service and to establish an incentive auction format for allocating licenses next year in the agency’s spectrum frontiers proceeding.
The FCC also plans to vote on items addressing robocalling, the regulatory status of texting, a consolidated communications marketplace report mandated by Congress earlier this year, the agency’s quadrennial review of its media ownership rules, and rules governing the display of broadcast licenses.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m.
“Because of the closure of the federal government for a National Day of Mourning for President George H.W. Bush on Wednesday, December 5, the Commission has determined that it is in the public interest to delay the onset of the sunshine period prohibition contained in Section 1.1203 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.1203,” according to the “sunshine” notice, which was released one day early today because of the FCC’s closure tomorrow. “Accordingly, consistent with Section 1.1200(a) of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.1200(a), the Commission has modified its rules so that the sunshine period prohibition will begin at 11:59 PM on Thursday, December 6, rather than at 11:59 PM on Wednesday, December 5.”
The text of the Connect America Fund (CAF) draft report and order, further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM), and order on reconsideration in WC dockets 10-90, 14-58 and 07-135 and CC docket 01-92 is aimed at addressing “the challenges that rate-of-return carriers face by taking steps to promote broadband deployment, ensure the efficient use of resources, and provide sufficient and predictable support necessary to increase broadband deployment.” Continue reading
The Boulder, Colo., Regional Emergency Telephone Service Authority (BRETSA) has filed a petition for reconsideration of an order (TR Daily, Oct. 23) released by the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau in October that dismissed as premature a request by the Colorado Public Safety Broadband Governing Body (CPSBGB) asking that the Commission clarify guidelines and requirements concerning interoperability and roaming between the nationwide public safety broadband network being built by AT&T, Inc., for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and wireless carriers (TR Daily, July 9).
The order adopted Oct. 23 in PS dockets 16-269, 12-94, and 06-229, and WT docket 06-150 noted that the Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology subsequently asked the FCC not to take any action at this time on the CPSBGB’s filing (TR Daily, July 16). “In light of our dismissal of the Request, we also find the filings by other parties supporting the Request to be moot,” the order said. “If other parties have concerns that they believe warrant Commission action, they may petition accordingly.” Continue reading
Presentations and Awards. On Tuesday the week before Thanksgiving, I flew to Denver to speak at a FirstNet Association (FNA) event and on Wednesday I flew home. Then on Thursday, I started out on what became a two-day trek to New York City due to weather delays. When I finally arrived in NYC, it was late on Friday so I was only able to join the Radio Club of America (RCA) board of directors meeting for the last thirty minutes. This was my last board meeting and I regret I could not have been there for the entire meeting but stormy weather and flying don’t often go well together.
FirstNet Association (FNA). The presentation I gave for attendees who came to hear the latest about FirstNet focused on coverage and the PowerPoint slides can be found here. The first slide set the level of expectations versus today’s progress. It shows that at present we are in month twenty of the contract between AT&T and FirstNet the Authority and outlined RFP-stated FirstNet milestones that would have to be met for the bidder to be compliant and on-track for building the network. When the RFP was developed, conventional wisdom was that a bidder would win the contract and deploy Band 14 (20 MHz of spectrum) for public safety over a five-year period.
Instead, when AT&T was awarded the contract, it provided public safety with full access to all AT&T LTE spectrum along with a plan to add Band 14 to its sites. The slide for month twenty states that at the end of twenty-four months of contract, “Achievement of 60% of contractor’s proposed Band 14 coverage in non-rural areas” should be complete. While only 60-percent of non-rural areas are required to be covered by Band 14 now, the FirstNet (Built with AT&T) footprint is much broader. Read the Entire Post Here. Continue reading
The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has withdrawn its request for a waiver to conduct an earthquake warning wireless emergency alert (WEA) test. In a filing yesterday in PS docket 15-91, Cal OES said the “full resources of the state are dedicated to the wildfire recovery efforts throughout the state,” adding that as a result, it can’t conduct “adequate public outreach in advance” of the earthquake warning test. It said that it “intends to organize a call with stakeholders in December to assess future test options.”
Meanwhile, the Montgomery County, Texas, Office of Homeland Security has requested a waiver to conduct a WEA test on Dec. 18, with a backup date of Dec. 27, and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management wants a waiver to conduct WEA tests in 11 cities and counties. The tests would be conducted Dec. 12 for the Surry Nuclear Power Station and Feb. 20, 2019, for the North Anna Nuclear Power Station.