Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, August 17, 2017

FirstNet or SecondNet? The Middle-Class Tax Relief Act of 2012 in the section known as Title VI created FirstNet and set out the rules for building a nationwide public safety broadband network and a public-private partnership in order to build the In 2012, Congress passed and the then President of the United States signed into law the Middle-Class network using mostly private rather than federal funding. After five long years, FirstNet issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) and three companies submitted proposals (Verizon Wireless was not one of these). After much deliberation and after two of the three companies were disqualified, the contract was awarded to AT&T.

This past week, Verizon came out of hibernation and declared it will also be building out a nationwide public safety broadband network with all the elements of a network with access to the FirstNet spectrum known as Band 14 (or as some old timers call it, the D Block) which is licensed by the FCC to FirstNet. This new Verizon “Public Safety Grade” network will include pre-emption for first responders on the Verizon LTE network and a Public Safety Evolved Packet Core (EPC) that will be separate from the current Verizon back-end system.

So now we have the approved FirstNet partnership with AT&T moving forward and the sleeping giant has suddenly awakened, looked around, and raised its hand. I have to say that as an early proponent of a nationwide a public safety broadband network that will provide full interoperability between all agencies regardless of where they are in the United States or its territories, I was really surprised and dismayed at Verizon’s attempt to hang on to a few million subscribers out of the 146 million it reported in April of this year, and its apparent lack of concern for creating more, not less, interoperability issues and challenges.

This is especially when Verizon could not be bothered to bid on the FirstNet RFP, stating publicly at the time that it had little interest in low-band spectrum either with the 600-MHz auction or the FirstNet spectrum since it believed spectrum higher in frequency would be more useful for small cell or 5G technology, on which it seemed to be betting the farm. Read the Full Blog Here Continue reading

Verizon to Offer Priority, Preemption, Dedicated Core to Compete with FirstNet

DENVER – Verizon Communications, Inc., plans to offer priority service and preemption to public safety customers, and it also plans to build a dedicated public safety core, matching AT&T, Inc.’s offer as the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) network partner. The development could provide substantial competition to AT&T as it works to sign up users for the nationwide public safety broadband network. Verizon already has a dominant share of the public safety market, and some first responders have been reluctant to opt-in to FirstNet due to what some say is Verizon’s superior network.

“We’re making an investment in the public safety officials that keep our cities, communities and neighbors safe,” said John Stratton, Verizon’s executive vice president and president-global operations, in a news release to be issued tomorrow morning. “Support for public safety is in our company’s DNA and our commitment to them never waivers.”

“We’re making the investments necessary to give public safety access to the best possible network coverage, reliability and capability, when and where they need it,” said Michael Maiorana, senior vice president-public sector for Verizon. “Our public safety network will provide a comprehensive and cost-effective solution for public safety, and we’ll continue working to offer first responders the network reliability and access to innovative services they need to keep our communities safe.”

The news release noted that “Verizon’s public safety network solution does not require that states opt-out of FirstNet, does not require access to any federal funding provided to FirstNet, and does not require any financial commitment from states to support network deployment. The creation of this dedicated public safety network core will be fully funded by Verizon. We will also make available multi-band devices that will provide access to Band 14 spectrum and enable full interoperability with any Band 14 radio access networks (RANs) deployed by FirstNet.” Continue reading

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

Why Public Safety Devices Need a New SIM Card This week’s PSA is based on a question I hear nearly every day. It started when AT&T won the FirstNet contract and offered up its own LTE networks in addition to what it will build out on FirstNet Band 14 spectrum. AT&T is offering early opt-in state and territories (at least 11 so far) the use of its AT&T network on a priority access basis with full pre-emption on the entire AT&T LTE network by the start of 2018.

AT&T says it is easy to start using the AT&T network for public safety. Once a state has opted in, each public safety entity will decide if it wants to join the FirstNet system and become users on the AT&T broadband network. If the answer is yes and the pricing is acceptable to the agency, all that is needed, according to AT&T, is to install a new SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) into the mobile device to be instantly considered a public safety user on the AT&T network and on Band 14 as it is built over time.

The question about why you need to install a new SIM in your device is based on a number of factors. The most important of these is that the new SIM identifies the device (and the user) as a member of the public safety community. The network is then notified that when this device is on the network, in addition to normal AT&T capabilities, the user will have access to all additional capabilities and information being made available only to the FirstNet public safety community. The AT&T network and soon FirstNet Band 14 recognizes a user as a public safety user by the SIM in the device and the information it contains. Read the Entire Blog Here  Continue reading

LPTV Proposal Envisions Use of T-Band Spectrum

A low-power TV proposal “ending the vacant channel war” would involve use of T-band channels that Congress has directed the FCC to auction by 2021 while relocating public safety and industry incumbents by 2023, according to an ex parte filing by the LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition. The coalition has said it has declared a “truce” in its fight with tech companies that support unlicensed use of TV white spaces, particularly on the issue of whether the FCC should reserve an additional white spaces channel in each market for unlicensed devices (TR Daily, Aug. 1).

The coalition’s ex parte filing yesterday in GN docket 12-268, ET docket 14-165, and MB docket 15-146 reported on an Aug. 1 meeting with 17 representatives of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force, Media Bureau, and Office of Engineering and Technology.

The redacted filing stressed the need for a five- to seven-year “bridge” for a legislative solution for holding an incentive auction of T-band spectrum. The FCC has the authority to conduct additional incentive auctions through fiscal year 2022, but it can’t hold additional auctions of TV spectrum, including in the T-band, without congressional approval.

In the Aug. 1 meeting, the coalition also reiterated its call “for a post-auction economic analysis of the impacts of repacking on non-eligible-for-the-auction LPTV and TV translator license and construction permit holders,” according to the ex parte filing.

Relocating public safety T-band incumbents from the 11 metro areas where they use the spectrum would cost more than $5.9 billion, according to a 2013 report by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (TR Daily, March 15, 2013).

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 requires the FCC to reallocate and auction public safety spectrum in the T-band by 2021 and relocate incumbents by 2023. Proceeds from the auction can be used to cover the relocation costs of public safety licensees. But the law doesn’t say anything about relocating non-public safety licensees.

The T-band is in TV channels 14-20 (470-512 megahertz).

Some public safety advocates have suggested the community lobby Congress to eliminate the mandate that the T-band be auctioned or at least to delay the deadline. —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate August 3, 2017

A T-Band Call to Action Public Safety Advocate: A T-Band Call to Action Many people, even some of those involved in public safety, have no idea what the T-band is and why it is of vital importance to 11 metro areas with a combined population of more than 90 million. When Congress passed Title VI of the 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief Bill creating FirstNet, and giving an additional 10 MHz of broadband spectrum to public safety, there was a “spectrum give-back” required. It turns out this “give-back” in the bill Congress passed also stated that the major cities and their suburbs using the T-Band for public safety services (But the law did not mention the business and industrial LMR users also on this protion of the spectrum) would have to suspend operations on the T-Band, “no later than 9 years after the date of engagement of this title.”

The title was enacted in February of 2012 and if you add 9 years to that it lands in 2021. Further, the law states, “Relocation shall be completed no later than 2 years after the date on which the system of competitive bidding described in subsection (a)(2) is completed.” The T-Band give-back date is drawing closer. In spite of the wonderful reports the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) wrote and submitted to Congress and the FCC, and the hours and hours of lobbying by the cities and agencies affected by this portion of the bill, Congress has shown no interest in removing this requirement from the law. Without action from Congress, and soon, the requirement to move off of the T-band will begin to present some really serious problems for both public safety agencies in these areas and the citizens they protect. The time to rally together to push out the give-back deadline is now. Read the Entire Blog Here. Continue reading

ACT Urges States to Opt In to FirstNet

ACT, which represents apps developers, urged states today to opt into the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) system. “When Congress first introduced the public safety network idea in 2012, they intended to establish a unified and interoperable wireless broadband network to support the innovative apps that serve public safety interests across the country. For this reason, the framework Congress created strongly encourages states to opt into a federal system and requires detailed and intense vetting of states that wish to opt-out of this federal system,” said Brian Scarpelli, ACT’s senior policy counsel, in a blog posting.

“We know first-hand that interoperability requirements alone do not guarantee the free flow of data between systems,” he added. “For example, many of our members continue to face impediments to data interoperability in the healthcare industry, despite the best intentions of the 2009 HITECH Act that created America’s electronic health records incentive program. Differences in hospital record systems lead to lack of choice, higher prices, disingenuous tolling of data flows, and — ultimately — an extremely unhappy user base. It is imperative that we learn from our mistakes and avoid these negative outcomes and setbacks for our first responders.

“For this reason, the App Association strongly supports states opting in to the federal public safety broadband network to best enable their first responders to protect public health and safety,” Mr. Scarpelli added. “We take issue with the positions of organizations like the Competitive Carriers Association that frame state opt-outs as an enhancement of the network, which is a serious misinterpretation of the clear path Congress has laid for first responder communications and would undermine the nationwide public safety network’s success. It is a national priority to ensure our country’s first responders can do their job as best they can, especially during our times of need. We will continue to advocate for a unified and interoperable nationwide platform to save lives and protect our country.”

Seven states have opted in so far, saying they will allow AT&T, Inc., FirstNet’s network partner, to build their radio access networks (RANs) rather than attempt to contract with a vendor to build their own. —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, July 27, 2017

FirstNet Coverage During the quest to obtain enough nationwide broadband spectrum for public safety, the Public Safety Alliance (PSA) and its member organizations worked industriously to convince members of the U.S. Congress and their staffs, the FCC, and the Executive Branch of the federal government that public safety needed more broadband spectrum than had been assigned to them (10 MHz, 5X5 MHz). The result of this multi-year effort was that Congress listened and in the legislation that created FirstNet, public safety was assigned 20 MHz (10X10 MHz) of spectrum (referred to as Band 14). This spectrum is in the 700-MHz band adjacent to the Public Safety Land Mobile Radio spectrum on one side and Verizon’s 700-MHz spectrum on the other side. It is ideal for longer range and better in-building penetration.

It was always assumed by the public safety community that the winning bidder of the FirstNet RFP would, of course, build out the FirstNet spectrum nationwide. Even with a full 20 MHz of spectrum to which public safety has pre-emptive access, there were still some concerns from a number of us that during an incident contained in a small area served by only one or two cell sectors, there would still be times when the network reached its maximum capacity. When AT&T won the contract and became the partner for FirstNet, it did not specify its build-out plans publicly. However, at the recent Senate Sub-committee, AT&T’s plans for the build-out were presented to those on the committee and picked up by the press. AT&T’s decision is to build out FirstNet spectrum where it is needed for capacity but nowhere else (See Urgent Communications ). Read the entire blog HERE The Discovery Patterns News Recap for the week is below: Continue reading