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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AT&T, Inc., announced today that 72 dedicated deployable assets are now available to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) system. Some deployables were not delivered as quickly as FirstNet had hoped. AT&T faced a Sept. 30 deadline for ensuring the 72 deployables were in service.
ORLANDO — The federal government is vetting Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s picks for six open seats on the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) board, National Telecommunications and Information Administration head David J. Redl told reporters today at the Competitive Carriers Association’s Annual Convention here. Mr. Redl noted that candidates must fill out forms on any conflicts of interest, adding, “We’re in the process of finalizing the secretary’s picks through the process.” He said he did not want to guess when that process might be completed.
FirstNet’s First Hurricane. Last week’s Public Safety Advocate discussed storms, wildfires, and other reasons it is so important for as many public safety agencies as possible to be a part of the FirstNet network and ecosystem. This week, weather hit the Carolinas hard with the arrival of hurricane Florence and FirstNet (Built by AT&T) sprang into action. So far, reports coming out of the area via reporters, tweets, and other social media indicate that FirstNet moved in and met the challenges it faced.
According to the FCC storm reports and verified elsewhere, 14 percent of the existing cell sites were out of service while more than 164,000 customers were out of cable, broadband services, and phones. Putting this another way, according to Tower Daily News and as reported by WWAY-TV, 86.4 percent of the cell towers remained in operation serving the public and the public safety community. As of last Sunday, the number of cell sites still down was reduced to 787, as compared to the 1,063 sites that were out of service a few days earlier.
In South Carolina, 98.3 percent of the 4,107 cell sites were operational going into last weekend, and by Sunday the number of sites down in the state had been reduced to 68 or 1.7 percent. On other communications services, the FCC’s latest report shows that 47 TV stations were on the air with only four being down, and 100 FM stations were broadcasting with only 20 off the air. On the AM side of things, 28 AM stations were broadcasting, leaving only three off the air. It is important to realize information about the number of cell sites and other communications facilities are generally furnished by the site owners, station owners, or others with knowledge of the current situation rather than numbers that are generated by the FCC directly.Read the Entire Post Here
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NTIA’s Redl Says Spectrum Sharing Is The Future Of 5G
Law360 Sep 19 21:25
Law360 (September 19, 2018, 7:29 PM EDT) — For National Telecommunications and Information Administration head David Redl, the government’s … Continue reading
Weather to Move to FirstNet
To all my readers who delight in finding errors in my articles (for which I am grateful), “weather” in the title is correct as this week’s Public Safety Advocate deals with storms, wildfires, volcanoes, and all forms of nature-made and man-made disruptions to our normal lives. This is also the week we all remember where we were on that tragic 9/11 day, which in some ways underscores the work public safety had begun in the search to find a way to provide better interoperability between and among agencies.
For the public, the 9/11 Commission, and the U.S. Congress, what happened in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and how many lives were lost that might have been saved began to bring home an awareness of the plight of public safety and the inability to communicate from department to department or even in some cases between fire and law in the same jurisdiction. This was followed by Katrina and other major incidents requiring multi-agency responses, all of which were hampered by the lack of inter- and intra-agency communications.
The 9/11 attacks took place in 2001, but FirstNet was not formalized by Congress and the President until February 2012. Today, seventeen years later, it is real. FirstNet is up and operational providing vital additional communications services to the public safety community in the way of data and video to and from the scene of an incident. It is also capable of non-mission-critical Push-To-Talk (PTT), which is and should be considered as an important piece of the interoperability puzzle. FirstNet has been designed as the nationwide broadband system for public safety. Most interesting to me is that a team of people and their vehicles can be dispatched across multiple states and remain in touch with their local dispatch center for the entire trip. When they arrive, they can become part of the incident communications efforts and still report to their own dispatch center thousands of miles away. This is certainly not the case with Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems in general although there are nationwide channels available for LMR use. Read the Entire Post Here Continue reading
FirstNet Progress—RFP IOC Goals Compared to Today’s Network. The Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by FirstNet the Authority includes a section known as Section J-8 that deals with dates by which certain items and portions of the network coverage are to be completed. This Initial Operational Capability description (IOC) will be used to track the progress of the successful bidder and to justify progress payments the FirstNet Authority will make to the winning bidder. There are five IOCs based on “months from award” by which the system can meet minimum operational capabilities and one more that serves as the Final Operational Capability (FOC).
It is important to understand that payments made to the winning bidder will not come close to covering the expenditures that will have been made. The bidder recoups this investment by putting the network into operation so it can use Band 14 spectrum to augment its own spectrum for commercial customers at times when Band 14 is not being used by the public safety community.
The RFP was awarded to AT&T on May 30, 2017. Therefore, IOC-1 was due to be completed by November 2017 (6 months), IOC-2 by May 2018, IOC-3 by May 2019, IOC-4 by May 2020, IOC-5 by May 2021, and IOC-6, the final set of milestones by May 2022. These timeframes are intended to keep FirstNet (Built by AT&T) moving forward and to provide FirstNet the Authority with measurable timelines to evaluate performance. When the vender meets the timelines, a pro-rated portion of the $7.5 billion set aside by the federal government from proceeds of other spectrum auctions will be disbursed, and performance of the selected vendor will be evaluated. Read the Entire Post Here . Continue reading
Passing the Baton. The past several weeks have seen some interesting changes in the FirstNet Board of Directors and the U.S. Senate. First and foremost, the passing of John McCain was very sad news for many. I am not sure how many within the public safety community know how involved Senator McCain was in the early days of forming FirstNet or how much he supported the public safety community. On the FirstNet Authority side, we lost (due to retirement) our great board chair person Sue Swenson, vice-chair Chief (Ret.) Johnson, and “Mr. EMS”Kevin McGinnis. This leaves a gaping hole in the board with seven vacant chairs to be filled.
In July of 2010, three U.S. Senators announced they were joining the fight mounted by the public safety community to gain access to the 700-MHz D Block. These three were John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller. Until then, support from the Senate for the public safety requests was limited. Then on July 21, 2010, Senators McCain and Lieberman introduced a bill (S.3625) to allocate the spectrum known as the D Block to public safety and provide up to $5.5 billion in funding followed by another $5.5 billion as the network was built.
As this bill was being launched, the Public Safety Spectrum Trust, headed by Chief (Ret.) Harlin McEwen, the Public Safety Alliance (PSA), and other dedicated supporters were walking the halls of Congress to drum up bipartisan support for the plan. The PSA held a rally outside the capital building on a very hot, muggy day. Officials from fire, police, EMS, and sheriffs who participated wore their dress uniforms, which are not designed for standing for hours in the hot sun. Both Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman joined us for the event wearing suits and both spoke about their bill and how it was taking too long after the 9/11 report and recommendations, how they both supported public safety, and what they were trying to accomplish. Read the Entire Post Here . Continue reading