Senators Markey Renews Calls to Pass Legislation to Maintain First Responders’ Access to T-Band Spectrum

Boston (December 2, 2019) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) issued the following statement in response to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai’s call on Congress to repeal the mandate to auction T-Band spectrum. Senator Markey, along with Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Bob Casey (D-Penn.), introduced the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act, legislation that would preserve emergency personnel’s access to T-band spectrum (470–512 MHz).

“Supporting the brave women and men in police and fire departments across the county and giving them the tools they need to succeed isn’t a partisan issue,” said Senator Markey. “I commend Chairman Pai for joining the coalition of public safety organizations and industry actors alike calling on Congress to protect the T-Band. It’s time for Congress to do right by the people who keep us safe and secure and pass my Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act before the end of the year.”

The Senators’ bill repeals a provision of the 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which directed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to auction off this band of spectrum by 2021. Police and fire fighters in highly-populated metropolitan areas in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere use critical T-Band spectrum for emergency public safety communication. Agencies across the country have invested millions of local, state, and federal dollars in the T-Band networks, which offer the reliable coverage and regional interoperability that first responders require for mission critical voice communications. Congressman Eliott Engel (NY-16) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

A recent study by the United States Government Accountability Office noted that the cost of relocating T-Band users to other bands of spectrum would cost between $5 and $6 billion, and for many T-Band users, alternative bands of spectrum are limited or “nonexistent.”

 

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WTB and PSHSB SUSPEND THE PROCESSING OF APPLICATIONS TO RENEW PART 22 AND 90 LICENSES FOR SYSTEMS OPERATING ON 470-512 MHz (T-BAND) SPECTRUM

“By this Public Notice, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (Bureaus) announce that, until further notice, they will accept, but not grant, applications to renew Part 22 and Part 90 licenses for operation in the 470-512 MHz band (T-Band). Licensees that have filed, and will in the future file, timely and complete applications for renewal of license may continue to operate using their licensed facilities past the license expiration date while the suspension is in effect.”

https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-19-1225A1.pdf  

 

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, November 14, 2019

T-Band, FirstNet Updates, Laptops and Tablets

First and vitally important to eleven major cities and their metro areas, both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate have introduced bills cancelling the T-band (470-512) giveback. House bill H.R. 451 is one of the simplest bills ever introduced in the House and it is almost exactly the same as the bill that languished in the House last year. This bill that was sponsored by Representative Eliot, a democrat from New York, now has nineteen sponsors. Three are Republicans and sixteen are Democrats who are primarily from areas that will suffer badly unless the requirement to return the T-band to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) for auction is overturned. The original bill is presently under the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

The Senate bill, S. 2748, contains the exact wording as the House bill. It was introduced in the Senate by Senator Markey, a democrat from Massachusetts. The bill currently has a total of four co-sponsors including Senators from NY, MA, and PA, all Democrats. After it was introduced in early October and submitted to the Committee on Science and Technology where it currently resides.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which provides cost estimates for most bills, has not yet weighed in on this bill, however, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report that is in line with the reports from National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) concerning the cost of relocating first responders in the eleven metro areas that currently have access to portions of the T-band. That is if there was any spectrum available for relocating these agencies. Based on FCC data, there is none. There is a bill in both houses of Congress, as there was last Congressional session, and NPSTC and the GAO have both stated that moving first responders off the T-band would be a very costly and, in reality, impossible task.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and first-responder agencies in areas where the T-band is in use have been working with Congressional staffers and their bosses to make sure they understand the seriousness of the consequences if these bills do not pass in both houses and are not signed into law.

Read the Entire Column Here

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GAO: Congress Should Consider Rescinding T-Band Mandate

Congress should consider legislation that would rescind a statutory mandate that the FCC reallocate and auction public safety spectrum in the T-band by 2021 and relocate incumbents by 2023, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released today. The report also said that the FCC is concerned about the impact to public safety of relocating systems.

Repurposing the frequencies was a requirement of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.

“Since the passage of legislation requiring the relocation of public safety users from, and auction of, the T-band radio spectrum, the potential consequences of these actions have become far more apparent,” GAO said in its report. “If FCC conducts such an auction, it is unclear that all public safety users in the affected areas will be able to relocate. If alternative spectrum is not available, public safety would be jeopardized in some of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. Even if alternate available spectrum can be found, public safety users are likely to bear significant costs associated with relocating and reestablishing interoperability. These costs could go well beyond the revenue produced by such an auction.”

The Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act of 2019 (HR 451), which was introduced in January by Rep. Elliot Engel (D., N.Y.), would rescind the T-band reallocation requirement. Similar legislation failed to pass in the 115th Congress.

GAO noted that the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) has estimated that relocating public safety systems in the 11 cities where the T-band is used by public safety entities could cost more than $5.9 billion and the federation says that alternative spectrum is not available (TR Daily, March 15, 2013).

GAO said the FCC has calculated the costs of relocating public safety users from the T-band at $5 billion to $6 billion. The agency estimates it would cost $4 billion extra to relocate business-industrial users, GAO said, although Congress is not requiring those users to be compensated for moving to other spectrum.

GAO said the “FCC has taken limited actions to address challenges and assist public safety users of the T-Band with the mandatory relocation. For example, FCC has taken steps to notify stakeholders, but officials told GAO they have not begun planning the auction. FCC officials acknowledged challenges the auction and relocation requirements present. FCC officials explained that public safety entities were licensed to operate on the T-Band in large metropolitan areas because other public safety spectrum was already heavily used. In March 2019, FCC briefed Congress on the auction’s challenges and concluded that all T-Band auction scenarios would fail. Nonetheless, FCC officials said the agency will conduct the auction unless the law is amended. While FCC provided information to Congress, it did not suggest changes to law in this instance.”

The report added that the “FCC previously told us that it had not determined whether business-industrial users would be required to relocate. However, in April 2019, FCC officials told us that it intends to implement the auction following the statute’s language. FCC officials stated that the Act does not expressly require it to auction spectrum licensed to business-industrial users, but officials also stated that [the] FCC may decide that it has the authority to auction that spectrum under a different statutory provision. Before conducting the auction, FCC must issue a notice, which includes a public comment period, to determine the auction procedures and requirements. FCC officials told us they have not progressed beyond the preliminary conceptual stages and do not have a precise timeline for the pre-auction process or auction. The officials explained that if business-industrial users relocate, they would face similar relocation challenges to that of public safety users and the Act does not mention them as eligible for relocation grants. According to FCC officials, licenses for business-industrial users outnumber those of public safety users on the T-Band in some areas.”

“The amount of proceeds that may be generated from the T-Band auction — which are, according to FCC, expected to be the sole source of federal funding to help cover the relocation costs incurred by public safety entities — is likely to be less than the total relocation costs,” GAO added. “FCC officials told us the T-Band has potentially low value because of limited demand by potential bidders in the auction. For example, FCC officials estimated that revenue for the entire T-Band would not exceed $2 billion. To reach this amount would require public safety and business-industrial users to relocate from the T-Band, which according to FCC estimates could cost between $9 and $10 billion.”

The report also noted that “NTIA is to make grants to cover relocation costs for the relocation of public safety entities in accordance with the Middle Class Tax Relief Act. However, NTIA officials told us that the agency has no dedicated funding to administer such a program and must wait for auction proceeds to stand one up. The officials also said that only when the auction concludes will NTIA know the total amount available and how best to disburse those funds for relocating agencies. Thus, designing a grant program, notifying eligible parties of available grants, evaluating applications, and issuing awards must all take place during the statutory 2-year relocation period. If agencies require the funds before they can move to other frequencies, it is unlikely that this migration can meet the two-year deadline. NTIA officials also stated that until they design the grant program, they do not have any relevant information to provide public safety stakeholders. NTIA officials said they would provide information on the grant program and begin making grants as soon as possible given the statutory requirement for public safety users to relocate within 2 years of the auction’s conclusion.”

GAO said it conducted case studies examining the impact that the loss of the T-band would have on public safety systems in Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, and Dallas–Fort Worth. The first three jurisdictions said they have not been able to identify suitable alternative spectrum.

T-band users in Dallas–Fort Worth “have had success transitioning off the T-Band,” the report said. “Two of the three public safety licensees we talked with told us they had already transitioned off the T-Band and noted that it was unrelated to the required T-Band auction.”

The report also said that FCC officials and a First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) official noted that “public safety users on the T-Band may subscribe to services on FirstNet’s nationwide public safety broadband network, which offers some voice functionality. However, officials said the network currently does not accommodate the need of public safety users for mission-critical voice functionality.”

Public safety groups welcomed the GAO report.

“The GAO report accurately reflects the need for public safety to keep the T-Band as it is needed for mission critical voice communications,” said NPSTC Executive Director Marilyn Ward. “As GAO points out, FirstNet will provide broadband capabilities and not replace in the distant future mission critical voice communications. We commend the GAO review and agree with their view that Congress should allow public safety to keep the T-Band which is needed to provide mission critical voice communications for public safety.”

Derek Poarch, executive director and chief executive officer of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, said, “The GAO report confirms that the right thing to do for public safety is to repeal the T-Band auction requirement.”

“The GAO report on the Required Auction of the T-Band confirms what the IAFC and other public safety organizations have stressed time and again: the auction of public safety spectrum in the T-Band threatens to undermine mission-critical communications in our nation’s largest metropolitan areas,” said the International Association of Fire Chiefs. “We urge Congress to follow GAO’s recommendations and adopt legislation enabling public safety’s continued use of the spectrum.” —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, May 30, 2019

Month-End Miscellany.  The first order of business this week is to give a shout out on behalf of all those who have given their lives for our freedom, military and first responders alike. I wish it was not necessary, but they did make the ultimate sacrifice for us, so this week especially, it is time to stop what we are doing, even if only for a few moments, and give thanks for each and every one of them.

Next, I want to give a shout out to all the first responders and scores of volunteers assisting them in what seems to be a never-ending series of tornadoes and floods across much of this nation. I have watched reports of numerous water rescues and UAV (drone) views of utter devastation from tornadoes. In the years I spent in the Cincinnati area working for General Electric Mobile Radio, I remember all too well the day the area was hit with more than seventeen tornadoes. My car, a new car GE leased for me, was parked in front of a GE two-way radio dealer. When we came out, it looked like it had been hit by rocks, not hail.

I reported to my fire department and my amateur radio net and proceeded to work for the next few days trying to find survivors. It was an experience I will never forget. Those in the Midwest are dealing with far too many similar situations. I only hope there is a break for them in the near future. Read the Entire Column Here.

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Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, May 16, 2019

Hurricanes and Other Disasters. Hurricane season runs June 1 through November 30, 2019, and a number of agencies and organizations are formulating their predictions about the potential severity of the upcoming season. For example, the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project Team has predicted a slightly below average Atlantic hurricane season, forecasting thirteen named storms and five hurricanes. The National Weather Service defines a hurricane as “a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 74 MPH or higher” and major hurricanes as class 3 or higher storms.

It is interesting to read the various projections. Several, like the one above, call for a lighter storm season but some are predicting we could have more and more damaging storms this year. We won’t know until it is over, but we do know we need to be prepared for these storms if we live in the Eastern region of the United States. We also need to continue to be prepared for the types of storms that have been racking the Midwest and the fire season on the West Coast that now runs all year long.

With the likelihood of so many disasters, public safety resources can become strained. Communications, of course, is key to being able to position resources where they are most needed and to coordinate activities which, during disasters, are highly focused on saving lives, then property, and protecting first responders’ personal safety. For many years, only Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems have been capable of providing communications needed in the field. However, there are shortcomings inherent with LMR systems. While they work well, some are not fully hardened to remain operational during most disasters. The most significant problem is that local, state, or federal agencies called in to assist bring their own LMR communications capabilities and these are not usually compatible with LMR services of others at the incident.

Read the Entire Column Here

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Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, May 9, 2019

Feds, States in Rural Broadband Push. I recently saw a posting on Twitter from the governor of South Dakota announcing her state is requesting proposals to cover “all corners” of the state with broadband. By the time I saw the announcement, the time period for submitting proposals had passed but it started me thinking once again about rural broadband and FirstNet (Built with AT&T).

We all should know that when FirstNet was created by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by the then President in February of 2012, one requirement called for the FirstNet organization to provide coverage to public safety agencies in rural America. When FirstNet the Authority issued its Request for Proposal (RFP), it stated that Band 14, the public safety broadband spectrum, was to be built out in metro and rural areas essentially at the same time. This was to ensure the winning bidder did not build out Band 14 only in metro areas where it could resell unused spectrum to recoup its costs and that Band 14 would be built out everywhere.

As it turned out, AT&T won the RFP and is not only building out Band 14 public safety, it is providing full pre-emptive access for public safety to all AT&T LTE spectrum. As we continue to conduct our drive tests and follow the build-out, it is clear this mandate is being followed by FirstNet (Built with AT&T). However, where Band 14 is available in rural areas, two things are being missed by those offering grants and loans to various organizations wanting to build out rural broadband.

As I have stated before, the number of different grants from different agencies within the federal government is staggering and they are all different. Some are outright grants, some are low-interest loans, and some are a mixture of the two. The grant applications are all different and most do not provide any ongoing funding for continued operation of the broadband services once the build has been completed. To my way of thinking, another issue is that many of these grants focus only on fiber to the business, house, or farm. Repeating myself, farmers would rather have wireless broadband covering their fields so they can continue to automate their machines and other devices.  Read the Entire Column Here .

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More than 600,000 devices used by more than 7,250 public-safety agencies have connected to the FirstNet communications platform. FirstNet is …

Pai Lays Out Plans for New Spectrum Auction, 5G Rollout

TV Technology May  8 15:25

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In addition, Pai spoke as to why the FCC denied China Mobile USA’s application to provide international telecommunication services in the U.S., citing …

FCC Drone/Unmanned Aircraft Systems Policy

FC Cincinnati May  8 13:15

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In the interest of public safety, privacy and security, please be advised that FCC prohibits any unauthorized media and/or individuals from operating …

CBRS Getting Closer; 800 MHz EB/GB Coordination Update; NIST Privacy Framework; Rural …

Lexology May  7 10:20

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CBRS Getting Closer. On May 1 the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) concluded its testing stage of five Spectrum …

AT and T Adds IP Access to FirstNet Dealer Program

MissionCritical May  7 10:05

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IP Access International joined AT&T’s First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Dealer Program. As a FirstNet dealer, IP Access International can now sell FirstNet services to eligible public-safety customers. read more

FirstNet Association Changes Name

MissionCritical May  7 10:05

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The FirstNet Association changed its name to the Public Safety Broadband Technology Association (PSBTA) to avoid confusion between the association and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). read more

GD e-Bridge Telemedicine App FirstNet Listed in App Catalog

MissionCritical May  2 10:05

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General Devices (GD) announced that its GD e-Bridge application is now certified First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Listed and available via the FirstNet App Catalog. read more

May 1 Deadline for WEA Improvements

MissionCritical May  2 10:05

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The FCC reminded commercial mobile service providers participating in wireless emergency alerts (WEA) of their obligations beginning May 1. The carriers must now support longer WEA messages, from 90 to 360 characters, for 4G and future networks and support a new class of alerts, called public-safety messages, to convey recommended actions for saving lives or property. read more

KT, Samsung to expand public safety LTE network coverage in South Korea

Telecompaper May  2 08:30

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In addition, the two companies will provide what they call the world’s first narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) service through the PS-LTE network.

Chinese telecom carriers to conduct massive 5G tests

NEWS-DETAIL-CCTVPLUS May  9 05:25

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Various of official from China Mobile making announcement about 5G planning 4. Officials of telecom carriers at 5G exhibition 5. Official from China …

China leads 5G patent race

Chinadaily USA May  9 05:25

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Chinese companies lead in global 5G patent applications with Huawei …

A retrospective look at the future of communications: Dave George

The Internet Of All Things May  9 03:25

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… primarily driven by the advent of FirstNet and other LTE networks. …

DNA Finand Tests Fixed 5G Broadband Service using 3.5GHz Frequency

The Fast Mode May  9 02:45

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DNA Finand said it has been testing fixed 5G broadband service in Vantaa in a residential area with detached houses using the actual 3.5GHz 5G …

Waymo CTO: 5G will be a self-driving car ‘accelerator and enabler’

VentureBeat May  9 01:25

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Waymo CTO Dmitri Dolgov thinks that 5G and next-generation cellular networks will be an enabler of the company’s autonomous car fleets, he told …

FCC Commissioner O’Rielly condemns government-led wholesale 5G proposal

FierceWireless May  8 22:00

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Over the last few months, various ideas have been floated about the offering of 5G wireless services via a government-sponsored network, O’Rielly …

Telus CTO: 5G is Letting Us Down

Light Reading May  8 17:15

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Above all, if the edge means deploying the telco cloud and IT resources at customer premises, such as a sports stadium, then where is what Gedeon …

Service Providers Look to Enterprises for 5G ROI

Light Reading May  8 16:55

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But panelists said customized enterprise services offer a greater potential for revenue from 5G. These may include wireless control of robots on factory …

NIST is preparing recommendations for power companies to protect IIoT devices

HACKER NEWS May  8 16:10

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Public discussion of the project will last until June 5 of this year. The National Cyber Center of Excellence (NCCoE) of the US National Institute of …

How Smart Cities Will Be Transformed by 5G Technology

Innovation & Tech Today May  8 16:00

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While this may be tolerable for consumers, dropped signals are unacceptable for the mission-critical data in smart city IoT deployments.

Virgin Mobile invites customers to experience the power 5G

Tahawul Tech May  8 13:15

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Virgin Mobile has announced that it is offering its customers the chance to be amongst the first to get connected on the new 5G network via a …

Wi-Fi 6 and 5G explained

Cisco Newsroom May  8 13:00

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What you need to know about the new wireless technology from Cisco’s Matt MacPherson and Greg Dorai. To learn more, check out how Wi-Fi 6 and …