Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, April 5, 2018

For the past two weeks I have been sidelined with a nasty infection I appear to have brought home as a souvenir from IWCE in Orlando. Many important things happened during this time so this week I will recap some of them and attempt to catch up. Some of the news has to do with the fact that FirstNet completed its Evolved Packet Core (EPC) for use by only the first responder community, Verizon says its core is up and running and the FirstNet core is “vaporware,” the FirstNet Authority tasked FirstNet to build out public safety band 14, AT&T has stated that the FirstNet network build-out will happen a lot quicker than five years, and much more.

FirstNet Core:  Let’s start with the FirstNet core. The core of an LTE network is the brains of the network. AT&T has been offering up all of its LTE spectrum with full priority and pre-emption for public safety and now the redundant brain of the network is also up and running. This means several important things. First, the public safety network is really end-to-end and available for public safety only, and the core is hardened and separate from AT&T’s customer core, ensuring Public safety traffic will remain separate and apart on the overall AT&T LTE network and band 14 (the FirstNet spectrum). The core is the final step in the end-to-end encrypted LTE network. Because public safety devices have their own SIM identification number, they are instantly identified as members of a network riding on a network. Public safety users, while on the same LTE spectrum AT&T is using for its commercial users, are segmented so public safety users have priority, better data encryption, and access to the public safety core. Even when AT&T’s secondary (commercial) users are sharing bandwidth they have no access to the FirstNet core or any way to intermingle with FirstNet users.
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Open Letter from Verizon on Its New Public Safety Private Network Core

NPSTC Leadership: Today, Verizon announced the availability of its dedicated Public Safety Private Network Core.  This dedicated public safety core is the centerpiece of expanded products and services designed to enhance Verizon’s 4G LTE network for public safety’s use.  A copy of today’s news release is attached.

I also wanted to take the time to address some issues that have been raised in previous NPSTC meetings regarding Verizon’s plans and its communications to public safety agencies and organizations.  Some have criticized Verizon for its decision not to bid on the FirstNet RFP, its decision to provide a public safety network solution in competition with AT&T and/or the way it has communicated certain aspects of its plan.  I fully understand why some may react in this way, and I want to address those issues directly.

First, on a personal note, I want to say how much I respect NPSTC, the various organizations that lead its efforts, and all those individuals that have dedicated their careers to protecting and serving the public.  I have a special admiration and respect for those individuals that formed the Public Safety Alliance and led public safety’s efforts on Capitol Hill to establish FirstNet and get the spectrum and funding necessary to support a nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN).  Most of these individuals continue to work in various capacities to help ensure that FirstNet succeeds.  I was proud to be able to lead Verizon’s efforts in supporting public safety as it worked to create FirstNet, and it was a pleasure to work with and support such dedicated individuals.

I was also hopeful that Verizon would ultimately be directly involved in helping FirstNet build the NPSBN.  While that did not happen, I don’t think that anyone familiar with Verizon’s position was surprised at the outcome.  Verizon has a long history of serving first responders, and our commitment to continue to serve them has not waivered.  We understand that first responders demand and expect a higher level of service for their communications, and our networks, our services, and our operational support are designed to meet those expectations.  However, the business case for FirstNet’s RFP really hinged on the ability to commercialize the B14 spectrum while also serving public safety.  Verizon has never been interested in commercializing the B14 spectrum, and we simply couldn’t make the business model work to support FirstNet’s preferred approach.

Verizon’s decision not to bid on the RFP, however, in no way diminishes our commitment to public safety, as evidenced by today’s announcement.  Verizon intends to continue to make investments in our network and provide the products, services, and support that our public safety customers want.  While the availability of public safety networks other than FirstNet’s may not be what some expected, I believe it will ultimately make public safety stronger.  Competition has always been the key driver in advancing innovation and ensuring that customer needs and expectations are satisfied.  The fact that the nation’s two largest communications companies are making substantial investments in public safety is a true testament to the accomplishments of FirstNet.  While Verizon may not be FirstNet’s network partner, we remain committed to the FirstNet vision that public safety created more than a decade ago; a vision of effective, reliable, and interoperable communications whenever and wherever first responders need it.  Verizon’s executive team and the thousands of Verizon personnel that support our first responder customers everyday stand ready to assist public safety in achieving this important goal.

Should you have any questions about today’s announcement, or any other aspect of Verizon’s commitment and service to public safety, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Respectfully,

Don Brittingham, Vice President, Public Safety Policy, Verizon

 

 

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, March 15, 2018

Public Safety Advocate: T-Band, IWCE, FirstNet

T-Band Call to Action: The T-Band (470-512 MHz) is spectrum used by both the public safety community and business users in 11 metro areas of the United States. When the bill creating FirstNet was passed in 2012, Congress required public safety to “give back” some spectrum in exchange for the 10 MHz of spectrum then known as the D-block adjacent to the 700-MHz spectrum that had been reallocated from wideband (50-KHz) channels. This was to enable public safety to deploy its own nationwide public safety broadband network. Congress decided the T-band would be a perfect giveback since it would be auctioned, once returned, for millions of dollars. Since the bill was passed, the major cities and surrounding areas that make use of this spectrum have been unable to find either the spectrum or the funding to relocate, in a timely fashion, their many radio networks that call this spectrum home. See the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) T-Band report…

IWCE 2018: For the first time in a very long time, IWCE was not held in Las Vegas, but Orlando, which is also a great convention city. However, when you weigh in spring break visitors and flights in and out of the area it can be tricky to plan what you want, and even the TSA pre-check lanes were experiencing long delays processing travelers. Even so, the conference itself was top notch. Perhaps it was because this was the first full IWCE after FirstNet the Authority awarded the contract to AT&T. The mood was upbeat, the sessions I attended and those I was part of all had good crowds, and this year it seems many more people were asking questions after the panels and/or offering up their advice. I always enjoy it when those in the audience ask questions so we can learn about their concerns…

FirstNet:  FirstNet was an even more integral part of IWCE this year. There were keynotes, sessions, and more directly related to FirstNet. It was announced at IWCE that FirstNet, the Authority, had given a task order to FirstNet built with AT&T to start the band 14 (FirstNet) spectrum build-out. Task orders for various aspects of the network build-out, operation, training, and more are released by FirstNet the Authority based on milestones reached by FirstNet. So far, FirstNet is running well ahead of what anyone would have guessed because AT&T included not only band 14 but all of its own LTE and upcoming 5G spectrum and deployments… Read the Entire Post Here

MissionCritical Mar  9 10:13

AT&T signed a new task order with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) for building out 700 MHz band 14 in all 56 states and territories. AT&T executives said the carrier has already begun buildout in most states, but the new task order formalizes the next step in AT&T’s year-old agreement with FirstNet to build a nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN). read more

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McGinnis, Sambar Tout AT&T Plans

ORLANDO – Kevin McGinnis, who represents the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO) on the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) board, and Chris Sambar, senior vice president-FirstNet for AT&T, Inc., today defended the plan for building and running the nationwide public safety broadband network overseen by the First Responder Network Authority.

During a NPSTC meeting held in conjunction with the IWCE show here, Mr. McGinnis, who is also a member of the FirstNet board but stressed that he was not speaking for the FirstNet board or the NASEMSO board, defended the plan to deploy one nationwide network.

“What we won is what public safety asked for initially, which is one network,” he said. “We need to dedicate ourselves to moving that forward. … I think we’re doing well.” He did not mention by name Verizon Communications, Inc., which is offering a competing public safety offering, by name.

At NPSTC’s January meeting, Mr. McGinnis criticized Verizon, suggesting that the carrier’s public safety broadband offering service pales in comparison to the FirstNet plan being offered by AT&T and complaining about statements attributed to Verizon (TR Daily, Jan. 9).

Mr. Sambar, who also did not mention Verizon by name, said that in the past couple of days, “one of those other commercial carriers” has continued “to take shots at the FirstNet network.”

“They’re all calling it a monopoly now,” he added. “This is not AT&T’s network. … It’s public safety’s network.” He added, “We’re building what you’re asking us to build.”

He noted that FirstNet must certify everything deployed by AT&T.

He added that in areas with no coverage or weak coverage, AT&T will build thousands of new cell sites, some later this year but most next year. AT&T this week also said it plans to touch more than one-third of its existing cell sites this year to add Band 14, which it plans to deploy to 95% of the U.S. population over the next five years.

Mr. Sambar also emphasized that AT&T’s public safety core is “a dedicated, physically separate network for public safety,” adding that a “virtually separated” core, a reference to Verizon’s core, is different than “physically separate” one. Verizon has defended its core, which, like AT&T’s, is scheduled for completion by the end of this month.

Mr. Sambar also said that it’s taking more time than some public safety agencies would like to sign them up for service as AT&T checks their credentials and priority level.

Mr. Sambar was asked about the timing of deploying z-axis indoor location accuracy. He said he has met with five or six vendors but said “there’s major challenges with just about all of” the technologies, including their ability to be effective when the power in a building goes out.

He said AT&T likes the NextNav LLC solution, although it needs to be tested in a building that is on fire because it uses pressure in devices, and pressure changes in buildings on fire.

Also during today’s NPSTC meeting, Paul Patrick, the interim chair of FirstNet’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), said PSAC’s early builder working group would be disbanded when its current task expires at the end of this month.

Also, David Furth, deputy chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, noted that the FCC plans to consider at its March 22 meeting a sixth further notice of proposed rulemaking in its 4.9 gigahertz band proceeding (TR Daily, March 1). He noted that a number of the proposals in the item came from NPSTC. He said that “perhaps towards the end of the year” the FCC will be “at the point where we can adopt final rules.”

Mr. Furth also noted that the FCC last month released a 700 megahertz band second report and order (TR Daily, Feb. 12), and he said that by NPSTC’s next meeting, there will hopefully be progress with the 800 MHz band interstitial channel item as well as further rebanding progress in the Mexico border region. NPSTC’s next meeting is scheduled for May 15 via teleconference. —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

Experts Debate FirstNet ‘Monopoly,’ Interoperability

ORLANDO – Panelists and audience members at two sessions at the IWCE show here yesterday debated whether the public safety broadband network that AT&T, Inc., is building for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is a “monopoly” and whether there should be interoperability between the AT&T system and those of rivals such as Verizon Communications, Inc.

During one session, Robert LeGrande II, founder and chief executive officer of The Digital Decision LLC, a public safety consulting firm whose clients include Verizon, which has complained because its planned public safety core will not be permitted to connect to the public safety core being deployed by AT&T, said that AT&T will have a monopoly.

“The one thing we don’t want is another monopoly,” he said. He said competition from Verizon is good for first responders. “Public safety wins because they’re going to duke it out for your business,” Mr. LeGrande added. He added that the two networks must be interoperable for public safety agencies to be well-served, including enabling uniform priority and preemption across networks and device interoperability.

But Dick Mirgon, president of Richard Mirgon Consulting LLC, whose clients include AT&T, said it doesn’t make sense to say that AT&T has a monopoly, adding that the public safety community is getting what it pushed for in the FirstNet system – one interoperable network rather than disparate systems that can’t communicate with each other. “This is about one network,” he said.  “It is not a commercial network.”

During a session later in the day, Arshdeep Sawhney, senior manager-product management, global products, and solutions for Verizon, also stressed the need for interoperability, including between public safety applications offered by the carriers.  “Of course, for this, we need a handshake,” she said. Continue reading

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, March 1, 2018

From One IWCE to the Next.  It seems as though AT&T has had the FirstNet contract forever, especially since many agencies are already up and running on FirstNet. Yet at last year’s IWCE conference in Las Vegas, March 5 to 9, FirstNet had not yet officially awarded the contract to AT&T. Expectations were clearly in the camp that AT&T would win the FirstNet contract but it was more than a week later that the court dismissed Rivada’s lawsuit, leaving AT&T as the only qualified bidder. Until the contract was awarded, there was always the chance that it would, once again, be challenged in court, but fortunately that did not happen.

At that time, we all expected to wait through the 5-year build plan for FirstNet band 14 before FirstNet would become a nationwide network with pre-emption. However, AT&T gave public safety a huge bonus with the use of all AT&T LTE spectrum and priority from the day a state opted in, followed by full pre-emption, not only on FirstNet spectrum but on ALL AT&T LTE spectrum. Further, AT&T promised that the FirstNet core (the Enhanced Packet Core, EPC) that will be the heart of the network would be up and running by the end of the first quarter of 2018.

This year should be the IWCE’s coming out party for FirstNet. However, as we look back at the past 12 months, is it difficult to comprehend that this year’s conference is the first with the FirstNet Authority and FirstNet Ecosystem up and running. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. Territories have opted in and many states and the tribal nations have been meeting with the FirstNet/AT&T team for months now. It is almost anti-climactic for this IWCE to celebrate FirstNet. So many FirstNet goals have already been finalized and AT&T is moving forward with site build-outs in metro, suburban, and rural areas. AT&T has also made it clear that every enhancement to its commercial networks including more LTE sites, in-building coverage, 5G small cells, and whatever broadband technology is deployed during the next 25 years will be made available to FirstNet as well as AT&T’s commercial customers. Read the Entire Post Here Continue reading

House Bill Would Repeal T-Band Giveback

Legislation (HR 5085) introduced by Rep. Elliot Engel (D., N.Y.) yesterday would repeal a provision included in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 that would require the T-band to be reauctioned by the FCC for commercial use.

The bill’s cosponsors are Reps. Lee M. Zeldin (R., N.Y.) and Peter T. King (R., N.Y.).

Congress required 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. The T-band encompasses TV channels 14-20 (470-512 megahertz). Public safety agencies use the spectrum in 11 major markets.

In 2013, a report by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) that estimated the cost of relocating public safety T-band operations to other spectrum would be more than $5.9 billion and cited the lack of alternative spectrum (TR Daily, March 15, 2013).

NPSTC today welcomed introduction of the legislation, which would repeal section 6103 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act.

“Public safety organizations use the T-Band spectrum to support both day-to-day operations and regional interoperability,” NPSTC said. “Because of the mission critical nature of the communications required, local public safety organizations have spent many years and millions of dollars in federal, state, and local taxpayer funds to plan and build out T-Band networks that are battle-tested and designed for the operational needs of each area.”- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily