Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, September 13, 2018

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

Public Safety Advocate, September 6, 2018

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

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, August 30, 2018

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

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, August 23, 2018

Radio Interference in the Public Safety World.  There are many different types of interference that may have an impact on existing radio communications systems whether they are Land Mobile Radio (LMR), broadband, marine band, aviation and satellite or, of course, Wi-Fi systems. Deliberately causing interference might be considered as “hacking” wireless systems. Then there is the issue of the noise floor and its level being higher than it has ever been, which can also have a negative impact on all types of wireless communications. Radio transmitters either by themselves or in conjunction with other transmitters can cause major interference issues as well. While there are other types of interference, I will limit the discussion for this week’s Public Safety Advocate (PSA) to those mentioned above.

Malicious Interference. Malicious interference is often attributable to how easy it is to purchase cheap handheld radios on the land mobile radio channels and then program them to work on almost any radio channel in use. Most of these radios are made in China. Although these units have been causing interference for many years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) only recently began to crack down on their use. Once a device is programmed to, for example, a fire radio channel, the “radio hacker” can make calls, disrupt incidents, and otherwise cripple communications. In one series of events a teenager with a radio tuned to a fire dispatch channel in California caused mass confusion by re-routing engines to different locations as they were being dispatched.

Public safety radios are sometimes taken out of service and sold or given to others, but most departments wipe them clean of their programming information before handing them over, or the radios are simply destroyed. A stolen or lost radio can normally be silenced and taken off the network much like your cell phone if it is lost or stolen. With mobile units, when the microphone button is pushed it sometimes inadvertently sticks and stays on the air. Many departments require all these radios to have time-out-timers in them to limit the time of the transmission and release the channel. It is difficult to identify open transmissions or catch radio hackers since they only transmit for a few minutes at a time and may move around. Some departments have enlisted the assistance of the local ham radio community as many hams practice “transmitter hunts” and have become very good at tracking down radios that should not be on the air.
Read the Entire Post Here.

Here are the articles I have selected with the help of Discovery Patterns artificial intelligence/

Two FirstNet board members step down, leaving seven open seats

StateScoop Aug 21 17:30

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The agency’s sole vendor for the project, AT&T, received authorization to begin building out its dedicated public safety broadband wireless spectrum in …

Records Show FirstNet, AT&T Execs Pressured Colorado Officials After LTE Interoperability Filing

RadioResource Media Group Aug 21 16:30

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First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T executives criticized a July 6 Colorado Public Safety Broadband Governing Body (CPSBGB) …

Two longtime FirstNet board members retire

RCR Wireless News Aug 21 16:10

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It has been an honor and a privilege to serve public safety over the past six years. Having accomplished what Chief Johnson and I set out to do back …

A Senator Says U.S. Broadband Maps ‘Stink.’ Here’s Why Nobody Wants To Fix Them.

Techdirt Corporate Intelligence Aug 21 15:02

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Last week we noted how an FCC “oversight” hearing fell well short of anything actually resembling, well, actual oversight. Three FCC staffers had just been caught making up a DDOS attack and misleading Congress, the press and the FBI about it — yet the subject was was barely even broached by lawmakers on either side of the aisle. It was another embarrassing example of the absence of anything resembling genuine accountability at the agency. Fortunately…

Twenty-two states ask US appeals court to reinstate ‘net neutrality’ rules

CNBC Aug 21 09:13

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The states argue the FCC action could harm public safety, citing electrical grids as an example.Â

Ajit Pai Opposes Effort To Update The Definition Of Broadband

Techdirt Corporate Intelligence Aug 17 15:02

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The Telecom Act of 1996 mandates that the FCC routinely assess whether broadband is “being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion,” and do something about it if that’s not the case. As part of that mission, the FCC also periodically takes a look at the way it defines broadband to ensure the current definition meets modern consumer expectations and technical advancements. That’s why, much to the telecom industry’s chagrin , the…

The next steps for FirstNet: Defining indoor coverage specifications (Reader Forum)

FireEngineering.com Aug 17 13:55

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… FirstNet (First Responder Network Authority), a public safety network. FirstNet will be America’s first broadband network dedicated to emergency …

Samsung’s Exynos i S111 Delivers Efficiency and Reliability for NB-IoT Devices

Samsung Newsroom Aug 23 04:40

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Samsung Electronics, a world leader in advanced semiconductor technology, today announced its new narrowband (NB) Internet of Things (IoT) …

CTIA Unveils Internet Of Things Cybersecurity Certification

Law360 Aug 22 15:00

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The program, CTIA said, builds on security recommendations for IoT put forward by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration …

Brazil plans network in 700 MHz band for security forces

Telecompaper Aug 18 04:00

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Brazil is planning to set up an integrated communication network for the public security forces. This mobile broadband network will occupy part of the …

FCC supports rural broadband deployments to enable telehealth

Health Data Management Aug 17 23:00

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The delivery of high-quality care is no longer limited to the confines of …

The US May Yet Catch Its Global Peers in 4G Speeds

Light Reading Aug 17 16:10

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Verizon and AT&T debuted their 4G services the 700 MHz band they’d won in 2008. Sprint took the 2.5 GHz route for LTE after several attempts to …

Verizon calls for greater interoperability with FirstNet, says public-sector business still growing

Urgent Communications Aug 17 13:55

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No public-safety agency should have to choose a network based on where an application sits or what applications they’ll have access to..

FCC Faces Senate Commerce Committee Panel In Oversight Hearing

All Access Music Group Aug 17 09:10

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… missteps in the Net Neutrality proceeding as well as rural broadband, the Lifeline program, telehealth services, robocalls, and other issues.

FCC supports rural broadband deployments to enable telehealth

Health Data Management Aug 17 08:13

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Commission envisions care delivered directly to patients via telemedicine, regardless of their location, says Commissioner Brendan Carr.

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

FirstNet the Authority and More.  With AT&T beating every due date, dealing with its coverage issues head-on, and deploying Band 14 ahead of schedule, not to mention certifying new FirstNet-approved devices, sometimes we forget FirstNet is the most important public/private partnership this nation has ever seen. When Congress formed FirstNet in 2012, it became an independent authority under the auspices of the National Telecommunications and Information Association (NTIA), which is a part of the Department of Commerce. FirstNet the Authority, as it has become known, was responsible for putting together the FirstNet request for proposal, distributing it, and making the award. Even with the delays caused by others, it shepherded the request through to a successful conclusion and awarded the FirstNet contract to AT&T.

Since then, the focus for public safety has been on FirstNet (Built by AT&T) and not so much on FirstNet the Authority although it continues to play many important roles going forward including being the final authority on how well AT&T is doing against the deliverables established both in the RFP and in the final contract. FirstNet the Authority still has a large staff of qualified people working with federal, state, and local agencies to ensure they fully understand the importance of joining FirstNet (Built by AT&T) and how to go about it. It is the checks and balances organization that, if AT&T strays from the goals set up in the contract (which to my knowledge it has not done) FirstNet the Authority has the clout to ensure AT&T gets back on track.

It is easy to see exactly how engaged both FirstNet the Authority and its board of directors have remained throughout the process. Its last meeting was held August 13, 2018, after the APCO show. Each committee reported to the board on activity that impacts FirstNet. Fiscal highlights for 2018 include that AT&T earned a sustainability payment of $5.5 billion, and the Authority was once again given a clean bill of health by the Inspector General (IG) in his report. This makes five years in a row the IG passed the Authority with high marks. Furthermore, the finance committee reported it met the financial requirements of FirstNet while staying under budget, perhaps one of a very few government-related agencies that does stick to its budget. During 2019, it appears as though funds will be made available for independent validation and verification of the public safety network coverage, which is an important task.  Read the Entire Post Here. Continue reading

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, August 9, 2018

APCO and FirstNet.  The busiest booth at the APCO conference in Las Vegas was by far the FirstNet booth. There was plenty of great activity on the show floor, but the exhibit area was smaller than in previous years simply because APCO has changed over the 30-plus years I have been a member. It is now much more of a dispatch/PSAP-focused organization. To be sure, those who run and work in Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and dispatch centers are vital to the world of public safety, but APCO’s roots were broadly based on communications in the field, from the dispatch center out.

Both the exhibit floor and the comments I heard while walking it reflect this change. Yes, Motorola, Harris, JVCKenwood/EFJohnson, and Icom were still there with their booths and products but many of the Land Mobile Radio (LMR) vendor companies are no longer showing their wares at APCO. FirstNet and companies that are FirstNet partners were there in place of these vendors. In the FirstNet booth there were demonstrations from Sonim, Sierra Wireless, Cradlepoint, ESChat, RapidDeploy, and more. Time and time again those who were exhibiting told me they did not think anyone walking the floor had purchase decision-making authority.

Unlike in the past, there were only a few tower, antenna, and LMR-associated companies. Several times I was asked why the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), the 911 organization, and APCO don’t simply merge and be done with it. APCO has changed and if it was not for FirstNet as a major sponsor, I am not sure the show could survive. The focus of APCO is now more dispatch and PSAP-oriented but I was not blown away by Next-Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) vendors on the show floor either. NG911 is the next big thing to happen to public safety communications after FirstNet. In reality, the two should have been planned and executed together since both NG911 and FirstNet are based on broadband technologies. However, the feds only saw fit to dribble out a little funding to NG911 and many of the states are still skimming 911 revenue off for their own, non-911 use. Read the Entire Post Here. Continue reading

NPSTC Reps Stress Need for Retaining Public Safety Spectrum

LAS VEGAS — Representatives of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council yesterday stressed the importance of the public safety community retaining access to the T-band, 4.9 gigahertz band, and 6 GHz band in the face of attempts to take the frequencies away from first responders.

During a session here yesterday at the APCO 2018 show, Don Root, chair of NPSTC’s Spectrum Management Committee, noted that public safety groups and agencies are concerned that Congress mandated in 2012 that the T-band, which is used heavily by public safety in 11 major markets, be reallocated and auctioned by 2021 and incumbents be relocated by 2023. The T-band encompasses TV channels 14-20 (470-512 megahertz).

Legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to repeal the T-band reallocation mandate (TR Daily, Feb. 27 and Aug. 2).

Mr. Root also noted that public safety is already fighting to convince the FCC not to reallocate the 4.9 GHz band for commercial use and to protect public safety operations in the 6 GHz band from interference.

“The fear is that the FCC has already made up its mind in taking the 4.9 [GHz band] away from public safety, but I think we’ve done a really good job” in explaining why that would be harmful to public safety, said NPSTC board Chair Ralph Haller.

Mr. Haller also cited what he said would be the “devastating impact” of public safety losing access to both the T-band and 4.9 GHz band

In initial comments filed last month (TR Daily, July 9) in response to a sixth further notice of proposed rulemaking seeking views on ways to promote more intensive use of the 4.9 GHz band (TR Daily, March 22), NPSTC said it “supports managed sharing of the band with Critical Industries Infrastructure (CII) entities and opposes reallocation and auction of the band for commercial use. Reallocation of the band would be very detrimental to public safety and likely would not be very productive for commercial carriers. The Commission’s calculation that no more than 3.5% of the potential licensees use the band apparently has created the misimpression that very little of the band’s capacity is in use, an inaccurate picture of the current public safety reliance on the band.”

During yesterday’s session, NPSTC representatives updated the audience on other work of the federation’s committees and working groups.

For example, an LMR-LTE integration working group is finalizing a report with policy recommendations to manage mission critical push-to-talk user IDs. The report is a follow-on to a report released earlier this year (TR Daily, Jan. 10).

Also, the public safety Internet of things working group is “[f]inalizing review of use cases which illustrate public safety use of IoT systems by law enforcement, fire, EMS and secondary responders[,] including interaction and data sharing with Smart Buildings,” according to a presentation at yesterday’s meeting. The working group is “[h]ighlighting common themes among the use cases[,] including the need for data validity, data standardization, cyber security, management and consolidation of data streams,” it added. This fall, the working group “will start work on an education and outreach document that will raise awareness of critical issues for public safety agencies as they consider adoption of IoT solutions.”

Meanwhile, the EMS working group is “[f]inalizing [a] report recommending that EMS agencies evaluate their procedures regarding notification to hospitals during transport of patients with time sensitive medical emergencies (e.g. heart attack, trauma, stroke, sepsis).”

The cross border working group plans to submit a final draft report to the NPSTC board next month that will provide “guidance to PSAPs along the U.S. Canadian border on how to access customer account and location data that resides with a commercial carrier in the other country.”

For its part, the channel naming working group is working to complete “a report examining public safety interoperability issues with LTE Mission Critical Push to Talk[.] An initial conclusion is that interoperability will be managed at the state, regional, and local levels rather than the national level. The report is expected to be presented to the NPSTC board later this year and it will then go to the First Responder Network Authority’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC). —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily