From the FCC Daily Digest, September 15, 2017

Released:  09/15/2017.  PUBLIC FORUM ON IMPROVING SHARING IN THE 800 MHZ BAND SCHEDULED FOR NOVEMBER 6, 2017. (DA No.  17-895).  WTB . Contact:  Thomas Derenge at (202) 418-2451, email: News Media Contact: Cecilia Sulhoff at (202) 418-0587, email:

PROCEDURES FOR COMMISSION REVIEW OF STATE OPT-OUT REQUESTS FROM THE FIRSTNET RADIO ACCESS NETWORK.   Order adopting remaining procedures for Commission review of state opt-out requests from the FirstNet Radio Access Network. (Dkt No.  16-269 ). Action by:  the Commission. Adopted:  09/14/2017 by ORDER. (FCC No. 17-116).  PSHSB


FCC Announces Spectrum Notification Procedures

The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau today announced the procedures for amateur radio operators to notify the Utilities Technology Council of their planned use of the 135.7-137.8 kilohertz (2200 meter) and 472-479 kHz (630 meter) bands, which have been allocated to the amateur radio service on a secondary basis.

The FCC adopted rules in March to facilitate such spectrum use, implementing decisions of the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12) (TR Daily, March 29).

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC Finalizes Criteria for Considering Alternative State FirstNet Plans

The FCC today released an order that finalizes the technical criteria that the agency will use when considering alternative plans by states that seek to opt out of having AT&T, Inc., the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) network partner, build radio access networks (RANs) that will be part of the nationwide system. In the order, the FCC agreed with FirstNet, AT&T, Rivada Networks LLC, and others on particular points.

The item in PS docket 16-269 follows up on an order that the Commission unanimously adopted in June that established procedures for reviewing alternative plans for interoperability (TR Daily, June 22). The FCC in that order directed the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to seek comment on a proposed interoperability compliance matrix that FirstNet had filed late in the agency’s proceeding.

The order released today noted that section 6302(e)(3)(C)(i) of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which established FirstNet, “provides that states making a timely opt-out decision shall ‘submit an alternative plan for the construction, maintenance, operation, and improvements of the radio access network within the State to the Commission, and such plan shall demonstrate—(I) that the State will be in compliance with the minimum technical interoperability requirements developed under section 6203 [of the Act]; and (II) interoperability with the nationwide public safety broadband network.’ We refer to these requirements herein as ‘Prong 1’ and ‘Prong 2’ respectively.”

“In a June 5, 2017 ex parte filing, FirstNet filed a spreadsheet listing ‘FCC Evaluation Requirements’ associated with specific elements of its anticipated state plan categories. FirstNet stated that the spreadsheet represents an ‘interoperability compliance matrix that documents the technical standards that will be necessary to ensure a state or territory’s [Radio Access Network (RAN)] is interoperable with the [Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN)].’ On June 16, 2017, FirstNet filed an additional ex parte letter in which it proffered a revised interoperability compliance matrix. In the revised matrix, FirstNet proposed that the Commission’s review under the second statutory prong be limited to whether alternative state plans comply with recommended requirements [4] and [5] from the [FCC’s] Interoperability Board Report,” the FCC noted in the order. “These recommendations apply to the use of Access Point Names or APNs. Recommended requirement [4] states that ‘[h]ardware and software systems comprising the NPSBN SHALL support APNs defined for PSAN [Public Safety Application Network] usage.’ Recommended requirement [5] states that ‘[h]ardware and software systems comprising the NPSBN SHALL support nationwide APNs for interoperability.’” Continue reading

Wheeler Criticizes Pai FCC for not Upgrading WEAs

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has criticized the FCC for not adopting additional upgrades to wireless emergency alerts (WEAs). In a blog posting, Mr. Wheeler, a visiting fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, cited WEA improvements that the FCC adopted in 2016 (TR Daily, Sept. 29, 2016).

The order required carriers to support URLs and phone numbers in all WEAs within one year of the rules being published. Also, Commissioners added to the order a commitment to require in the future a device-based geo-targeting approach, which can allow WEAs to be more accurately targeted rather than the current framework that relies on the nearest cellphone tower. The order also increased the length of WEAs from 90 to 360 characters; created a new class of alerts called public safety messages to convey urgent messages such as the locations of emergency shelters or boil-water messages; required carriers to support alerts in Spanish; required carriers to maintain alert logs that have to be made available upon request; and facilitated state and local testing of WEAs, personnel training, and public safety awareness. Continue reading

Two-Way Database of Provider, PSAP Contact for 911 Outages Urged

Service providers and public safety officials today discussed the potential benefits of a “two-way” national database that they could use to contact each other about service outages affecting 911 calls, as well as the best ways to handle outreach to the public about such outages.

The discussions took place during an FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau’s workshop on improving situational awareness during 911 outages. The workshop followed an investigation that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai asked the bureau to undertake in the wake of a nationwide 911 outage that affected AT&T, Inc.’s voice-over-LTE network in March. The bureau reported in May that the five-hour outage could have been prevented if the carrier were following network reliability best practices (TR Daily, May 18).

During remarks at the beginning of the workshop, Chairman Pai said, “This exchange comes at a critical time, as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma illustrate. Last week, I went to Texas to inspect the damage caused by Harvey and meet those engaged in recovery efforts. I heard first-hand from 911 call-takers and emergency communications personnel who worked tirelessly to serve their communities, even while their own families and homes were threatened.”

He added, “When Texans’ ability to call 911 became strained, many turned to social media. Some public safety entities used social media to tell residents to call 911 only for life-threatening emergencies and to use 311 for other purposes. These efforts yielded many success stories. For example, on social media, emergency responders asked residents who owned boats and high-water vehicles to contact fire officials to help with rescues in flooded neighborhoods. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted during the disaster that a woman was going into labor and shared the address. An hour later, he updated his followers that the woman had been taken away in an ambulance. I personally heard about other cases in which online platforms helped those in need.” Continue reading

Irma Cell-Site Outages Falling in Florida, Virgin Isles, Puerto Rico

In its latest report on the effects of Hurricane Irma on communications facilities, the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau reported today that 53.8% of cell sites are out of service in the U.S. Virgin Islands, 24.6% are down in Florida, and 14.5% are down in Puerto Rico, all improvements from yesterday.  In Alabama and Georgia, included in the status update for the first time today, fewer than 1% of cell sites and 10.5% of cell sites were reported out of service.  There were a total of 29 public safety answering points (PSAPs) reported affected in Florida, up from 27 yesterday, and 2 PSAPs affected in the Virgin Islands, unchanged from yesterday.

“There are at least 7,184,909 (down from 7,597,945 yesterday) subscribers out of service in the affected areas in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia,” the report said.  “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. Companies are actively working to restoring service,” it added.

Courtesy TRDaily

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, September 8, 2017

Public Safety Devices As FirstNet moves forward with more than twenty opt-ins, and the network begins to take shape, questions remain about the types of devices that will be needed and wanted by the public safety community. The original vison put forth by many of us working on the project prior to Congress allocating the spectrum or creating FirstNet is that at some point a single device would be carried by all first responders to access both broadband and Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems. Why burden those who already carry a belt full of gear with yet another device? However, during recent conversations with some of those advocating for public safety broadband and with many of today’s first responders, it appears as though the vision of one person, one device may not always be the best choice. It is clear that we will start with existing land mobile radio portables, smartphones, and tablets. AT&T has made it simple for opt-in states.

An agency simply signs up and its users receive new Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards for their existing smartphones (if they are compatible with AT&T’s spectrum). Over time, as AT&T builds out FirstNet Band 14, new devices can be purchased. There are already several offerings on the market, specifically from Sonim, that meet the need for hardened, long battery life devices and more are coming from Motorola, Harris, Tait, JVCKenwood, and others. LMR vendors are working on cross-over devices or devices that communicate back-and forth between LMR and LTE networks.

Discussions I have had indicate more than ever that there will need to be multiple types of devices, offering multiple types of services or combinations of services. One of the issues with this, of course, is that vendors do not like to build a few each of many different types of devices and would rather build many of one type. One of the reasons LMR radios are so expensive is that there are so many different radios needed for different portions of the LMR spectrum that production costs remain high. Read the Entire Blog Here

Senators Blast The FCC For Weakening The Definition Of Broadband To Try And Hide The Industry’s Lack Of Real CompetitionTechdirt Corporate Intelligence Sep  8 15:05 Back in 2015, the FCC raised the standard definition of broadband from 4 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up, to an arguably-more-modern 25 Mbps down, 3 Mbps up. Of course the uncompetitive broadband industry (and the lawmakers who adore them) subsequently threw a collective hissy fit about the change, because they realized a higher bar would only highlight their failure to deliver next-generation broadband to vast swaths of America. And highlight it did: by this…

Vermont Releases RFP for Statewide LTE RANMissionCritical Sep  8 10:03 The Vermont Office of Purchasing & Contracting, on behalf of the Department of Public Safety (DPS), is soliciting proposals for an alternative solution to the nationwide offering of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). Proposals are sought from qualified firms to build, operate and maintain a statewide radio access network (RAN) to connect to and be fully interoperable with the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN). read more

AT and T Exec Backtracks on Public Safety Grade CommentsMissionCritical Sep  8 10:03 Chris Sambar, AT&T senior vice president, apologized for comments he made “that may have been misleading” regarding a definition of public safety grade for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) nationwide public-safety broadband network. read more Continue reading