Public Safety, Industry Entities Weigh in on NG-911 Grant Program

Public safety and industry entities have weighed in on proposed regulations for a next-generation 911 (NG-911) grant program, including on who should be eligible for funding, whether tribes should be able to directly submit applications, and the formula for distributing grants. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a notice of proposed rulemaking in September that proposed awarding NG-911 grants directly to tribal organizations, rather than to them only through states (TR Daily, Sept. 21).

The NPRM proposed modifications to the E-911 Grant Program, which was established pursuant to the ENHANCE 911 Act of 2004, which allocated $43.5 million from the proceeds of the FCC’s 700 megahertz band auction.

The modifications of the regulations proposed in September were required by Congress in the NG911 Advancement Act of 2012, which was part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which reserved $115 million for NG-911 grants from the FCC’s AWS-3 auction. Up to $110 million in actual grants will be awarded. Continue reading

FirstNet President Kennedy to Depart at End of Year

First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) President TJ Kennedy plans to leave the organization at the end of this year, the authority announced today. “After more than four years with FirstNet, TJ Kennedy has decided the time is right to pursue other opportunities in the private sector and take on new challenges in his career,” FirstNet said. “He has been with FirstNet from the startup days and into our current operational phase – fulfilling his promise to us and to public safety.  TJ will be staying with FirstNet through the end of the year enabling a smooth transition of responsibilities.”

Mr. Kennedy was hired by FirstNet in 2013 as deputy general manager (TR Daily, July 31, 2013), joining the organization from the Raytheon Company, where he was an executive after a career in public safety. He served as acting GM and then acting executive director, the new title for the top staffer job, after the departure of Bill D’Agostino Jr. (TR Daily, April 14, 2014), and was hired as FirstNet’s first president in 2015 when Mike Poth was hired to the newly named post of chief executive officer (TR Daily, Aug. 17, 2015). Mr. Kennedy had sought the top job permanently. Continue reading

Rivada Says It Has Experience to Build RANs

Rivada Networks LLC has told a House subcommittee that it has the experience to build radio access networks (RANs) for states that opt out of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) system. At a Nov. 1 hearing before the House communications and technology subcommittee, Rep. Mike Doyle (D., Pa.), the subcommittee’s ranking member, asked John Stevens, the statewide interoperability coordinator and FirstNet state point of contact (SPOC) for New Hampshire, the Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee has concluded that the alternative state plan prepared by Rivada is superior to that of FirstNet’s, if he was concerned that Rivada has not built a RAN (TR Daily, Nov. 1). Continue reading

Utah Opting into FirstNet

Utah announced today that it has decided to opt in to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). The state is the 29th to opt in, joining two U.S. territories. “Utah is pleased to join other states in working with FirstNet to deploy the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network,” said Gov. Gary Herbert (R.). “First responders need to have the most advanced and reliable communication technology so they can access critical information, respond efficiently, and coordinate efforts. The FirstNet plan and associated technology will give Utah and the nation the necessary tools to maximize public safety.”

“Reliable communications are critical to the safety and success of first responders and the public,” said Tom Ross, president of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association. “During emergencies networks get clogged because people are simultaneously trying to communicate. We are excited that FirstNet will establish a dedicated network that prioritizes first responders’ communications.” Continue reading

NARUC Proposes Resolutions Addressing E-911, Lifeline NPRM

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) is slated to consider three telecommunications-related resolutions when it meets next week in Baltimore for its 2017 annual meeting and education conference.  Resolutions addressing enhanced 911 (E-911) access and enterprise communications systems, the federal Lifeline fund, and bridging the digital divide are currently on the agenda of NARUC’s telecommunications committee.

The first proposed resolution supports federal and state actions to require enterprise communications systems (ECS) manufacturers, installers, and operators “to design and configure ECS to allow direct dialing of 911, route 911 calls to the proper PSAP regardless of the particular location of the extension used to call 911, provide the PSAP with location information accurate enough for first responders to locate the caller, and to support on-site notification.”

The resolution (TC-1), sponsored by Commissioner Wendy Moser of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, states that “consistency, uniformity, and ubiquity of service is highly desirable in the dialing of 911,” and that “voluntary efforts among ECS manufacturers, installers, and operators are laudable, but may leave many 911 callers vulnerable.”

According to the draft resolution, any federal action should be mandatory for all ECS manufacturers, installers, and operators, and federal requirements regarding ECS “must not be written or implemented in such a way that it preempts states from imposing additional requirements as they see fit, presuming that such additional requirements do not contradict or conflict with federal requirements.” Continue reading

800 MHz Band Prehearing Conference Rescheduled

FCC Chief Administrative Law Judge Richard Sippel rescheduled from Nov. 6 to Dec. 4 a pre-hearing conference to discuss issues in an 800 megahertz rebanding dispute between Sprint Corp. and the state of Indiana (TR Daily, Oct. 19).

The parties had asked that the conference be rescheduled to Nov. 27, but Judge Sippel said in an order that he is not available on Nov. 27. “The litigating parties report that one designated issue has been resolved with regard to two old terminals that Indiana has now located and returned to Sprint,” he noted in the order in WT docket 02-55. “The parties also represent that mediation discussions are ongoing and that Indiana is considering making a settlement offer to Sprint. Joint Request at 2. If the settlement offer is made and the parties agree to it, the parties estimate that it will take around two weeks to finalize a settlement agreement. Id. at 2-3. A settlement would be in the public interest.”

Courtesy TRDaily

Parties Urge FCC to Reform Technical Regulations

A number of parties have asked the FCC to take steps to reform its technical regulations. Comments were due earlier this week in ET docket 17-215 in response to a public notice released in August seeking comment on questions as part of an inquiry launched by the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council to assess whether the Commission’s technical rules should be modified to increase efficiency and reduce regulatory burdens.

In its comments, the Telecommunications Industry Association urged the FCC to (1) streamline its equipment authorization regulations for licensed and unlicensed next-generation wireless technologies; (2) expand the approval process for modular devices and establish a low-power radio frequency device supplier’s declaration of conformity; (3) issue procedures to test millimeter wave devices; and (4) complete its RF exposure proceeding so the Commission’s standards are harmonized with international guidelines.

“The Commission can facilitate the introduction of new technologies by modifying or eliminating outdated and unnecessary rules for legacy systems and leveraging the insight and technical expertise of standards development organizations (‘SDOs’) like ATIS,” said the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions. “These outdated regulations, if left unchanged, could slow the deployment of new, improved products and services.  Next, ATIS offers recommendations for how the FCC can best utilize SDOs to facilitate technology transitions.  Consumers would benefit greatly from the Commission’s increased reliance on open standards and industry best practices instead of prescriptive government mandates.  Uniquely positioned to convene key stakeholders to address complex technical challenges, SDOs minimize the need for new regulations and the associated burdens that can negatively affect industry innovation.” Continue reading