AT&T Says Opt-Out States Can’t Operate Core Network

May 23, 2017–AT&T, Inc., says the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which established the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), “plainly precludes an opt-out State from operating its own public safety broadband core network.” In an ex parte filing yesterday in PS docket 16-269 reporting on a meeting with representatives of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, AT&T, which is FirstNet’s network partner, also said that “[a]n opt-out State must have awarded a contract to a vendor in order for a State’s RFP to deemed ‘complete’ within the 180 days required by the Spectrum Act.”

In addition, it said the FCC “should adopt a 60-day deadline for reviewing alternative plans submitted by opt-out States.” “The Commission’s review of an alternative state plan should involve a meticulous examination of the details of the plan to ensure that it provides with sufficient specificity precisely how it will succeed in achieving seamless interoperability with the National Public Safety Broadband Network,” AT&T argued. “The Commission should not allow an opt-out State to submit amendments or supplements to its original proposed alternative plan.” Continue reading

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, May 25, 2017

Managing FirstNet Capacity
But first some exciting changes!
Public Safety Advocate: Now from a New Home!

  • It will be the same blog
  • It will still be written by Andrew Seybold
  • It will contain the same type of content and continue to pull no punches!
  • If you subscribe through or, it will continue to feature news bits of interest

What will change is the website the Public Safety Advocate will call home!
The first issue of my Public Safety Advocate was published in June of 2010. Since then I have published approximately 350 editions and the readership from our subscribers and LinkedIn continues to climb. Over that time, the news items I have attached to the blog have been graciously provided by Discovery Patterns, an interesting company that provides many different types of information sources and scans of thousands of news feeds based on key word searches. I have to say that its results leave Google in the dust when it comes to news coverage!

Where we are going
That is where we have been. Where we are going in the very near future will expand our readership even further. I recently entered into an agreement with a new website called All Things FirstNet that will be the go-to site for, you guessed it, all things FirstNet. After this edition, I will continue to email and send out my blog and news but in a slightly different manner. If you are a subscriber you will receive a thumbnail of the week’s offering and a link to see the blog on the website. On LinkedIn, I will post a notice with a link to the website and, of course, NPSTC will still have full access.

In addition to being the new home of my Public Safety Advocate, it will also contain the archives of all of the blogs I have posted so far. This site will also allow me to post other items and blogs that might impact those involved with both FirstNet and Land Mobile Radio systems. Yes, Land Mobile Radio because we know LMR is not going away and there will be connections and integrations to broadband so it too falls under All Things FirstNet.

The site will be advertising-supported but I assure you that will have no impact on my continuing to “Tell It Like It Is,” or perhaps better to say “As I See It!” I felt that after seven years of providing these weekly blogs it was time to be able to monetize my blogs but I wanted to find a way to do that without having to ask my subscribers to fund my work.

I hope all of you will stay with me and our subscriber database will continue to grow as it has every month since I started. I promise you that while there will be ads on the site to support the content and my blog, my list will NEVER be used to send out unsolicited ads or other extraneous materials. I will retain the copyright for the publication and any additional posts I make to the site, and my intention is to continue to make sure the Public Safety community is well served by those committed to providing communications services for them.
Thank you, and I will be seeing you at I am excited about this change and hope you are too!

Managing Broadband During an Incident
When FirstNet was preparing to release its RFP we all assumed the spectrum licensed to FirstNet would be the only primary spectrum for Public Safety use and would include pre-emptive priority when the capacity was needed for an incident. However, now it appears as though AT&T has decided to provide access to all of its broadband spectrum as well as band 14. This should mean many of the issues of concern to the Public Safety communications community regarding bandwidth during an incident are not as critical as we thought they might be.

A few weeks ago I wrote about network capacity and our report that helped show that Public Safety would need more than 5 X 5 MHz of broadband spectrum since many of the incidents they will be responding to will be geographically small but could still involve large numbers of Public Safety vehicles and personnel. That is, the number of Public Safety users including vehicles could be a factor in ensuring the broadband network maintains the needed capacity during the incident.

Typically, the amount of radio traffic at an incident escalates from the time the first units are on the scene until the incident is under control. Sometimes this is accomplished in minutes, sometimes in hours, and sometimes in days. More and more incidents are being responded to by law, fire, EMS, and perhaps other types of vehicles for the incident first responders (electric and/or gas company vehicles, tow trucks, and others). Using the Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems available to them today means that normally law, fire, and even EMS are on their own channels or groups and congestion on law channels does not affect fire and EMS channels and vice versa. But with broadband, the available spectrum will be shared by all of those responding to the incident.

The issue that has not really been addressed by FirstNet or the Public Safety community (when we were to have only FirstNet spectrum) was how to manage the capacity of the system in small areas covered by only one or two cell sectors between the services. Of course, the ideal way would be to establish what in incident command structure is referred to as a unified command where all Public Safety disciplines are represented and incident commanders for each service are co-located with the others and sharing information. This would include their broadband demands, what they need, and how to make sure each agency can access the broadband network when it needs it.

But AT&T is offering much more available spectrum than simply the FirstNet 20 MHz of broadband spectrum. It also has LTE up and running on its own 700-MHz spectrum in band 17, in the AWS band 66, and WCS band 30 spectrum. It is also replacing a lot of its systems with LTE in the PCS 1900-MHz band. It is difficult to say exactly how much broadband or LTE spectrum AT&T has available in any given area but when you add the FirstNet spectrum it becomes a very healthy number in most of the United States. Add to that its agreements with rural carriers for FirstNet, and coverage in rural areas and the Public Safety community is doing well with the available spectrum.

This does not mean Public Safety can assume that during an incident it does not have to worry about the amount of capacity it uses in a given area. AT&T has to serve its existing customers even during incidents, and it has to make the network available for 9-1-1 emergency traffic. My take on AT&T’s way of building out FirstNet is that a shortage of network capacity during most types of incidents will not be an issue. However, there may be times when AT&T will have to limit the amount of non-FirstNet spectrum being made available to Public Safety. Remember, though, that when Public Safety is only using FirstNet spectrum lightly for routine tasks, AT&T can be using the spectrum to help relieve congestion on its own spectrum. In practice, the issue of who gets how much spectrum and when during times of high demand will depend on real-time analysis and will have to be managed on a real-time basis. It should also be noted that in most Public Safety incidents the amount of data from the field back up to the network will be greater than the amount of data being sent down to field units. This is typically the opposite of what commercial users experience today. During an incident that may also change as bystanders and the press decide to stream the incident somewhere such as Facebook or back to their studios for retransmission.

Spectrum Management Training
Simply put, AT&T has solved a major issue for the Public Safety community most of the time but both AT&T and Public Safety will face times when there is a need for something or someone to take control of the spectrum and make sure those at the incident have what they need, customers in and around the scene still have access to the network, and there are no delays in 9-1-1 calls.

Today the Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Communications (DHS OEC) offers a series of courses that provide those taking the courses with the title of COMML for Communications Unit Leader. The training is for LMR voice systems and includes developing plans to effectively use incident communications equipment and facilities, managing distribution of communications equipment to incident personnel, and coordinating the installation and testing of communications equipment.

However, the most important function of a COMML is to assist the Incident Commander as a person who understands how to manage complex communications requirements. For more than five years a number of us, including those at OEC, have tried to interest the Public Safety community in adding broadband network management to the COMML program. I would like to see an even more focused and perhaps shorter course to instruct local departments and jurisdictions in how to manage the broadband network. I would include AT&T in the basic training and make sure there was an expedited way to train and certify the COMMB (B for broadband) and those at AT&T who can help make on-the-fly network changes, communicate and understand each other.
As more Public Safety personnel come online with FirstNet, more applications come online and are in use, especially graphics for building plans, live video to and from scenes, and much more, demand for data will grow as it has for commercial customers. Granted there are not nearly as many Public Safety personnel as commercial users on the network but when the Public Safety community needs the bandwidth and capacity, it needs it! Someone who knows how to allocate capacity should be able to work in the field to ensure that those at the incident have what they need and that AT&T customers are not frozen out of the entire AT&T network (which I doubt AT&T would allow to happen, but it could cause some unpleasant issues).

One scenario I use to try to get the capacity issue across to people is to talk about an incident where law, fire, and EMS are all involved, video is coming and going from and to law and fire, and EMS folks are treating a number of patients and sending vitals to a trauma center. Then a doctor asks the paramedic to start an ultrasound to determine if the patient is bleeding internally. The paramedic starts the ultrasound and the data rate up to the trauma center is about 6 MBPS which, unless expected by others on the network, would cause network slowdowns or even network failures. This type of situation will turn Public Safety off when it comes to FirstNet. This means the network must not only be mission-critical for the radio portion of the network, it must be Public Safety-grade when it comes to capacity availability. This takes the training of COMMB individuals with quick and reliable access to the AT&T operations centers.

The first time the FirstNet network cannot sustain the capacity required is the last that the Public Safety community will trust it. I am concerned that any initial failures will not be caused by a lack of network capacity but by a lack of training and understanding that for the first time, Public Safety agencies at an incident are sharing spectrum they need to do their jobs. It must be managed properly so they all can have access to the spectrum when needed, AT&T customers can also have access to it, and anyone who dials 9-1-1 will be able to connect quickly!
Andrew M. Seybold ©2017 Andrew Seybold, Inc.
Now on to the news

FirstNet provides next steps for nationwide broadband network rolloutHomeland Preparedness News via Google Alerts May 24 20:20 FirstNet provides next steps for nationwide broadband network rollout …

AT&T CEO expects accelerated FirstNet buildout, promises hardening, ‘ruthless preemption’ for …Urgent Communications via Google Alerts May 23 16:40 AT&T expects to deploy the Band 14 FirstNet public-safety LTE network much quicker than the five-year schedule included in the request for …

AT&T’s FirstNet Build Could Start Sooner Than You ThinkWireless Week via Google Alerts May 23 15:40 CEO Randall Stephenson said this week at an investor conference AT&T is aiming to kick off construction of its nationwide network for first responders …

Government of Canada continues research and targeted engagement on implementation models …Canada NewsWire via Google Alerts May 19 22:20 This engagement and analysis will provide the opportunity to better understand the potential benefits of a Public Safety Broadband Network, and will …

FirstNet: The Wait Is Almost OverMilTech via Google Alerts May 18 14:55 FirstNet is working to give public safety officials our own dedicated, nationwide wireless network so we won’t have to compete with private users for …

Hytera Debuts LTE-PMR Convergence Solution at CCW 2017Business Wire via Google Alerts May 18 08:00 Hytera’s LTE-PMR Convergence Solution comprises cutting-edge multi-mode advanced radio terminals, narrowband-broadband infrastructure, and …

Alphabet’s Access Group, Nokia among those citing 3.5 GHz progress to FCCFierceWireless via Google Alerts May 18 07:10 … 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) continues to build as leaders in the ecosystem, including Alphabet’s Access Group and Nokia, …

AMIA Tells FCC Broadband Access Among Social Determinants of HealthHealthcare Informatics May 25 09:18 Nation’s Informatics Experts Encouraged by FCC Focus on Broadband-Enabled Health Solutions, Urges Collaboration in Promoting National Health Infrastructure

Huawei, Toshiba to work on NB-IoT for ‘smart factory’TA News RSS May 24 21:15 Huawei has signed a MoU with Toshiba to collaborate on the integration of NB-IoT (Narrowband Internet of Things) for the development of “smart factory” solutions. The cooperation between Huawei and Toshiba will accelerate the commercial availability of NB-IoT in a diverse range of vertical industries, supporting a range of applications and deployment scenarios as operators are looking ahead towards new business opportunities in vertical industries. Both companies will work together to develop en

Qualcomm, China Mobile Research Institute team up on Mobike trialFierceWireless via Google Alerts May 24 15:55 The MDM9206 LTE modem is designed to support global Category M1 and NB1/GSM multimode. Qualcomm said the narrowband LTE technologies …

Cities Clamor for More Clout at FCCLight Reading May 24 06:30 Who governs broadband in the smart city?

Frontier Communications Extends Broadband Network in West VirginiaBusiness Wire May 23 16:10 CHARLESTON, W. Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Frontier Communications (NASDAQ:FTR) is making enhanced broadband service available to previously unserved residents throughout West Virginia, Elena Kilpatrick, Frontier Senior Vice President of Operations announced today. Connected communities in 35 counties now may access increased speeds and services from Frontier. Over the past 18 months, Frontier has successfully leveraged the FCC’s Connect America Fund (CAF) program to bring new broadband opportunities

States are sizing up FirstNet alternativesFedScoop via Google Alerts May 23 15:15 … Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T will present to each state a draft plan of the first nationwide wireless data network for public safety.

Cable Companies Refuse To Put Their Breathless Love Of Net Neutrality Down In WritingTechdirt Corporate Intelligence May 23 15:13 Apparently, giant broadband providers don’t much want to put their sudden, mysterious love of net neutrality into writing. Last week, the FCC voted to begin killing net neutrality , opening the door to a 90-day comment period ahead of a broader rule-killing vote later this year. In the wake of the move, the same large ISPs that have spent a decade trying to kill meaningful regulatory oversight comically went out of their way to (falsely)…

MediaTek ready to power 4G devices on 700 MHz via Google Alerts May 22 15:25 … to tune LTE smartphones based on the 700 MHz band radiowaves for India which would accelerate fourth-generation (4G) adoption in the country.

AT&T: Jury is still out on NB-IoTvia Google Alerts May 22 06:58 AT&T will continue to evaluate Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) technology for its Internet of Things (IoT) strategy, but so far, it’s not seeing any big reason to …

FCC Vote Kicks Off a Battle Over Regulation of the InternetNewsFactor Network via Google Alerts May 20 09:40 A federal agency voted to kick off the repeal of “net neutrality” rules designed to keep broadband providers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from …

Huawei Releases eLTE SafeCity Solution for Public SafetyLight Reading via Google Alerts May 19 11:45 Traditional narrowband communication networks with basic voice service …

China Telecom extends narrow band IoT network across home marketDeveloping Telecoms via Google Alerts May 19 11:45 China Telecom has launched what it describes as the the world’s most extensive new-generation commercial narrow-band IoT (NB-IoT) network.

Trump taps House committee counsel for NTIA chiefFederal Computer Week May 19 09:12 David Redl, the chief counsel on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is President Trump’s nominee to head the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

FCC Commissioner Wants To Ban States From Protecting Consumer Broadband PrivacyTechdirt Corporate Intelligence May 18 15:07 Despite a last-ditch effort by the EFF and other consumer and privacy groups, the GOP voted back in March to kill consumer broadband privacy protections . As we noted several times , the protections weren’t particularly onerous — simply requiring that ISPs are transparent about what data they’re collecting, who they’re selling it to, and that they provide working opt-out tools. But because many of these large ISPs are busy pushing into the media sector (AT&T’s acquisition…

AT&T’s 911 outage ‘result of mistakes made by AT&T,’ FCC’s Pai saysFierceWireless via Google Alerts May 18 13:40 FCC Chairman Ajit Pai directed the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to investigate the 911 outage on AT&T’s network in March.

FirstNet, NTIA Officials Stress Difficulty of States Contracting to Build RANs

May 19, 2017–Officials from the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration last night said that states hoping to contract to build their own radio access networks (RANs) rather than having AT&T, Inc., FirstNet’s network partner, do so will face hurdles in getting authorization from the federal government and constructing and maintaining the system.

At an event on FirstNet organized by the Federal Communications Bar Association’s engineering and technical and homeland security and emergency communications committees, Jason Karp, FirstNet’s chief counsel, said, “When we say opt out, what we’re saying is the state is going to make the decision to take on the operational, financial, technical responsibility to build, deploy, maintain, and upgrade the radio access network portion of the nationwide network in their state for the life and perpetuity of that network. That’s what it means. It’s a big undertaking.”

He also said, “When we say opt out … that’s a poor term because no one’s opting out of anything. This is intended to be a nationwide network.”

Marsha MacBride, NTIA’s associate administrator-Office of Public Safety Communications, stressed the difficulty that states will face in securing a spectrum lease to operate their own RAN. Continue reading

IAFC Stresses Benefits of States Allowing AT&T to Build FirstNet RANs

May 17, 2017–The International Association of Fire Chiefs today emphasized what it said are the benefits of states permitting AT&T, Inc., the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) network partner, build their radio access networks (RANs). “If a governor decides to opt-out and build its own RAN, this will delay the process of building out the RAN in the state. States will assume all technical, operational, political, and financial risks and responsibilities related to building their own RAN for the next 25 years,” said a blog posting by Gary McCarraher, chairman of the IAFC’s Communications Committee and chief of the Franklin, Mass., Fire Department. “IAFC members should be contacting their FirstNet State Points of Contact (SPOC) to get up-to-date information about their specific state plans and provide input as their governors make their decision.”

“Make sure the governor understands that if he/she allows FirstNet to buildout the RAN, one of the key benefits of the partnership will be the availability of priority services immediately after a governor makes the decision to stay in the network. This priority access will be made available over FirstNet’s existing partner AT&T’s nationwide network and on all its Long-Term Evolution (LTE) bands. This is only available to opt-in states,” Mr. McCarraher said in the blog posting. “Inform the governor that if he/she is considering building their own RAN believing they can make a profit for the state building and operating its own RAN, this is not the case. FirstNet has made it clear that under its interpretation of the statute that any profit made in a state may not be kept in the state but must be shared with the nationwide broadband network. As the fire service leaders in your respective states, you need to have your voices heard and voice your views to the governors in your states as they make the decision to opt-in or opt-out. Once the governor makes the decision, stay involved in the process.” —Paul Kirby,

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC to Finalize FirstNet Order Before State Plans Ready

May 17, 2017–The FCC plans to finalize its rules for conducting interoperability reviews of any alternative plans from states “well ahead” of when the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) delivers state plans, David Furth, deputy chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, reiterated today.

FirstNet plans to deliver state plans to governors by the end of September. “We’re very conscious of that timeline in terms of putting our rules in place, consistent with that timeline and well ahead of when FirstNet delivers those final plans to the states,” Mr. Furth said during a session this afternoon at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International’s Public Safety Broadband Summit.

Under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which established FirstNet, governors have 90 days after receiving the FirstNet state plan to notify the government that they want to opt out of having FirstNet’s network partner, AT&T, Inc., build a radio access network in their states.

Within 180 days after that, states must complete a request for proposals (RFP) and submit an alternative plan for approval by the FCC, which is charged with reviewing whether plans would comply with minimum technical interoperability requirements. If the FCC approves a state plan, the state has to apply to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration for authority to secure a spectrum capacity lease agreement with FirstNet. States seeking to build their own RANs may also apply to NTIA for grant funds to help cover those costs. Continue reading

Partnership, Planned Network

May 16, 2017–First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T, Inc., officials today touted their 25-year partnership and the benefits to public safety of the planned nationwide public safety broadband network. But the chairman and co-chief executive officer of Rivada Networks LLC, which led a consortium that lost a bid for the FirstNet contract, suggested today that states would get short-changed if they allowed AT&T to build their radio access networks (RANs).

In remarks this morning at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International’s Public Safety Broadband Summit & Expo, FirstNet CEO Mike Poth and Jim Bugel, AT&T’s vice president-FirstNet state plans and acquisitions, said that states that agree to allow AT&T to build their RANs will get immediate priority access on all of AT&T’s LTE spectrum and preemption in the fourth quarter of this year and benefit from the economies of scale, pricing, and coverage that come from a national carrier.

Mr. Bugel did not discuss pricing or coverage details, but he said that they would be in draft state plans that are due to be released in mid-June, following a national state plan kickoff meeting with state single points of contact (SPOCs) June 7–8 in Dallas. Continue reading

APCO Criticizes Rivada for Trying to Convince States to Opt Out

May 15 2017–The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International’s chief counsel today criticized Rivada Networks LLC and other companies that have tried to convince states to opt out of having AT&T, Inc., the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) contract partner, build radio access networks (RANs) in their states. In a blog posting, Jeff Cohen, who is also APCO’s director-government relations, said that “the ink was barely dry on the FirstNet legislation when vendors and consultants began preying on states to convince them to opt-out, often with false promises of revenue from monetizing the spectrum dedicated to public safety.  These businesses see more profit in keeping public safety divided than helping to achieve the goals of the FirstNet legislation.

“Certain vendors have been quite public about trying to convince states to opt-out and hire them.  One in particular is promoting its dynamic spectrum exchange technology, which has not yet been proven in practice, let alone in a public safety environment,” added Mr. Cohen, referring to Rivada, which saw its bid as part of a consortium to become FirstNet’s network partner fail. Continue reading