Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, January 18, 2018

Interoperability:  After publishing last week’s Advocate, I received some emails and questions about the whole interoperability issue and why it is a problem for public safety and not for commercial cellular customers. The public safety community has been providing answers about interoperability for years to all who would listen and some in Congress seemed to “get it” when the bill that contained authorization for FirstNet was approved, but a number of them still do not understand the need.

It has always been difficult for those whose only exposure to voice, text, and data communications has been through their use of a cell phone and/or tablet. Commercial networks function like their wired predecessors for voice. If you want to talk to someone, you dial a 10-digit number, the phone on the other end rings, and either the person you want to talk to answers the call or it goes to voice mail. If you want to talk to multiple people at once, you need to establish a conference call, which takes even longer to set up. The advent of 2G, 3G, and 4G wireless broadband systems saw the addition of text, data, and video services but here again, you text someone by typing in their phone number and the text you want to send. If you want to watch a video, you go to a website, select a file, and it starts streaming to your phone. If you want to send a picture or video, you can send it to one person at a time if you know their phone numbers.

If this is your starting point for understanding wireless communications systems, it is no wonder you are confused about public safety’s claim that they have been unable to communicate with neighboring agencies or even between fire and police in the same city. If you can simply dial anyone, anywhere, on any network, why should public safety have this problem? The answer is a combination of the effect of spectrum allocations by government and the fact that public safety systems are designed to cover specific geographic areas. Read the Entire Post Here

Discovery Patterns Weekly News Summary Follows:

LMR licensing activity in the US reaches record-low levels in 2017, according to FCC databaseUrgent Communications
Jan 18 02:40 Overall, the FCC has approved 13,430 applications that were submitted in 2017 for new and modified licenses in the public-safety and business-industrial arenas, based on ULS data available on Wednesday. Even if all 263 of the pending 2017 license applications were granted, the number of 2017 …

ANALYSIS: Expect much smaller money in the 600 MHz
Jan 17 18:55 AT&T spent $1 billion on 600 MHz spectrum, but just announced they are selling it. In fairness, this may not mean that AT&T doesn’t want low band spectrum. They won the bid to supply First Net with a public safety broadband network and that lets them use 20 MHz of First Net’s 700 MHz spectrum when …

Cellphone jamming system tested at Maryland prisonWATE 6 On Your Side
Jan 17 16:40 FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has signaled willingness to work on the issue, telling members of Congress he would put together a working group to address “the proliferation of contraband wireless devices in prisons and the potentially devastating implications for public safety.” Williams said Justice, which …

FCC chairman: Hawaii didn’t have ‘reasonable’ safeguardsGkMen
Jan 17 07:40 The system has come under growing scrutiny in recent months, with public safety officials complaining that it requires upgrades on several fronts. Congresswoman Gabbard is with us now. Catt said. “So, there wasn’t much we could do”. Outside of the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, Gabbard said …

FCC chairman plans to boost broadband in rural AmericaAgri-Pulse
Jan 17 00:51 However, in a briefing last week, Grace Kho, the White House’s special assistant for technology, telecommunications and cybersecurity, cautioned that expanding rural broadband will take time. This is not going to be a sprint. This will be a long time of — a long process of figuring out how to exactly move …

DHS S&T and Israeli Partners Call for Proposals on Advanced First Responder TechnologiesNewswise
Jan 16 16:40 Small businesses who were awarded contracts through this partnership are working on promising cutting-edge technologies such as unmanned search and rescue systems, public safety off-network broadband communications, and a separate autonomous drone-based search & rescue solution to help …

FirstNet’s Schrier on New Public-Safety Meetings, App Interoperability and PrivacyRadioResource Media Group
Jan 16 13:53 AT&T executives will also participate in the meetings. They are not presenting or selling but determining what public safety’s needs are, he said. We’re going to listen to what their apps are today and what they need. AT&T will be at the table to ask questions. Schrier said most applications will be …

Public Safety Network: A Boon for Tower Operators in
Jan 11 08:40 Notably, in March 2017, AT&T was selected by FirstNet to build and manage the first nationwide broadband network dedicated to America’s police, firefighters and emergency medical services. As part of the 25-year contract, FirstNet will provide AT&T with a swath of 20 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz …

FCC Proposes $500M for Rural BroadbandLight Reading
Jan 18 06:30 FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to reform the universal service fund.

FCC pushes for rural broadbandBrownfield
Jan 18 05:00 The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is calling for more high-speed broadband in rural areas. Ajit Pai says there needs to be more internet access in sparsely populated areas to close the digital divide. His order would provide more than $500 million to cooperatives and small rural carriers to build more online infrastructure, create new rules to prevent abuse and reform’s the FCC’s high-cost program. Continue reading FCC pushes for rural broadband at Brownfield Ag News.

Lawmakers Blast FCC’s Mobile Broadband ProposalMediaPost Communications
Jan 17 17:00 “Without adequate service deployment and accurate data collection for both fixed and mobile, our rural and national economy will suffer,” the lawmakers add. “Every American who has ever had to ask ‘Can you hear me now?’ while on their cell phone or has had to wait for buffering when streaming a …

Wireless Narrowband Communication in the Environment of the Internet of Things and Machine toSmart Grid Demand Response
Jan 17 03:52 Salzburg Research invites to a workshop on 08.02.2018 on Wireless Narrowband Communication in the Environment of the Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine Communication. Digital transformation is finding its way into almost all areas of life and industry. The development of the Internet of

Telstra adds narrowband capability to Australia’s leading IoT networkTicker In
Jan 17 00:35 Telstra announced a major step forward in the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) in Australia with the successful deployment of Narrowband technology in its IoT Network. Telstra now offers Narrowband coverage in major Australian cities and many regional towns. This is in addition to the

Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro joins lawsuit against the FCC over net neutrality rollbackPittsburgh Post-Gazette
Jan 16 23:55 In the wake of a controversial move by the Federal Communications Commission to deregulate the broadband industry, a group of 22 attorneys general including Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania has sued the commission for its repeal of net neutrality rules. The group filed a petition for review in the …

FirstNet’s availability should ‘raise all boats,’ drive public-safety innovation, competitionUrgent Communications
Jan 16 18:40 At best, by virtue of offering a new competitive choice for public-safety communications, it will be an engine for the continued development and implementation of reliable, state-of-the-art communications technologies for first responders. The availability of FirstNet in the marketplace will raise all boats and …

FCC Attempts to Weaken Broadband StandardNo Jitter via Business Communications Review
Jan 11 06:30 By Martha Buyer Rather than hold providers accountable, the Commission wants to lower speed requirements and loosen definition of competition.

The Coming Fiber Construction BoomLight Reading
Jan 11 02:35 “Americans are frustrated with the slow pace of broadband deployment” is a sad clich. According to FCC data for 2016 (the most recent available), 21% of census blocks — home to 10% of the US population — have no provider offering fixed broadband service at the Commission’s 25/3 Mbits/s standard, …

DHS Urged to Move Quickly, Cautiously on CDM

The Department of Homeland Security should move more quickly to deploy a network security system known as continuous diagnostics and mitigation (CDM), according to Rep. John Ratcliffe (R., Texas), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s cybersecurity and infrastructure protection subcommittee. “While I understand that setting up new government programs, buying new and advanced technologies, and deploying those technologies across a massive federal environment is not easy, the threats to federal agencies continue to grow every minute,” Rep. Ratcliffe said today at a subcommittee hearing on CDM.

“The maturity of the continuing diagnostics and mitigation program has to move at the pace of new technologies and innovations, not at the pace of bureaucracy,” he said.

A fully deployed CDM system would enable DHS to keep watch over civilian agencies’ networks and identify threats as they arise.  DHS has completed the first implementation phase and is working on buying the components and services needed for the next phase. “CDM is an ambitious program that I believe, if implemented well and over a reasonable timeline, provides the American people the kind of federal cybersecurity that they deserve,” Rep. Ratcliffe said. Continue reading

NPSTC Releases LMR-to-LTE Integration Report

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council announced the release today of a report, Public Safety Land Mobile Radio (LMR) Interoperability with LTE Mission Critical Push to Talk, which it said “is designed to articulate the issues and requirements regarding integration and interoperability between LMR systems and LTE MCPTT services.

This report does not advance a notion that all public safety agencies will migrate their LMR users to the NPSBN. However, it is clear that public safety agencies will be using a mix of LMR and LTE networks in both the short and long term and will need to have effective interoperability solutions.”

Courtesy TRDaily

DSA Updates Model TVWS Rules

The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance has released updated new model rules for TV white space (TVWS) technology. “The new model rules will provide governments, policy makers and regulators with the tools necessary to enable the quick and efficient deployment of TVWS networks to help bridge the digital divide and support the Internet of Things (IoT),” DSA said. “Replacing the original version published in 2014, the updated model rules offer higher availability for dynamic spectrum devices and stronger protection for incumbent users. They are based upon the regulatory environments already put in place by Ofcom in the UK and the Federal Communications Commission in the US, incorporating learnings from the operation of TVWS networks, including DSA member Nominet’s experiences running its TVWS services.”

Courtesy TRDaily

Firm to Buy AT&T 600 MHz Band Licenses

AT&T, Inc., has agreed to sell 16 of the 23 600 megahertz band licenses it won in the FCC’s incentive auction. LB License Co. LLC wants to buy the licenses, which cover markets such as San Francisco, Baltimore-Washington, Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta, and Seattle. “LB License Co is headed by a management team with extensive wireless operations expertise backed by sophisticated or institutional investors with deep experience in the telecommunications sector,” according to a public interest statement.

“For example, Columbia Capital and Telcom Ventures have more than $4 billion in combined capital under management and have been active investors in the wireless, satellite, and media industries. Columbia Capital and Telcom Ventures were lead investors in MetroPCS Communications, Inc., XM Satellite Radio Holdings, Inc., and other mobile services businesses.” Monish Kundra, a Columbia Capital partner, is listed on the transfer application as vice president of LB Spectrum Holdings LLC, which is LB License Co.’s parent company.

Courtesy TRDaily

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, December 14, 2017

News and Commentary
It has been an interesting few weeks. As of now, FirstNet/AT&T has 36 of the 56 states and territories opted in, New Hampshire has opted out, and the deadline for opting out is fourteen days away. I say for opting out since if a state opts in by December 28, that is great for FirstNet, but if states don’t make any decision they will have opted in by default. It will be interesting to see how all this shakes out over the holidays. Also, this week, Verizon, once again, has decided not to bid on a FirstNet system. In this case, it is California. Verizon stated it will not submit a proposal to the state of California because FirstNet and AT&T have the system rigged. That is the second time instead of bidding on the project Verizon has made an excuse not to bid. It now appears as though Verizon’s only desire is to keep its existing public safety customers and perhaps convince a few more to join them.

I don’t understand Verizon’s recent moves. It did not show up to bid on the RFP, after the award to AT&T it said it had looked at it but did not need the spectrum for secondary use, but that it has always supported the public safety community, which is true, at least for the past ten years. After the RFP award, during last year’s APCO conference, Verizon announced it would build a duplicate network including a core and provide Band 14 services to its public safety customers. There are two issues with that, the first being that FirstNet holds the license for Band 14 so Verizon cannot simply put its customers on Band 14. If it is really to offer Band 14, a second SIM would be required in the device and another contract would have to be in place with AT&T. The other issue is that the way the law reads there will be only one public safety core (redundant of course) and therefore every public safety user on Band 14 must be connected to that core, and it is mandated that the one core will be built, managed, and operated by AT&T. For the past few months Verizon has been quiet and now it claims it won’t bid the California RFP because FirstNet and AT&T are not playing fair. Based on what I have seen, I am not convinced upper-level management at Verizon is 100 percent onboard with these efforts.

It will also be interesting to watch New Hampshire. It appears as though the first order of business for the state is to negotiate a full contract with Rivada. I certainly hope New Hampshire protects itself against the possibility that when the losses start to pile up for the vendor, the state is not stuck with the bill. The state and Rivada now have 180 days to provide a plan to the FCC to ensure that the Radio Access Network (RAN) build-out in the state will be fully compatible with FirstNet and that it will be upgraded as FirstNet/AT&T upgrades its network. It would have been fascinating if the state had opted out earlier because then we would have a parallel course between FirstNet and the state to see how both systems are developed and built out. As it stands now, New Hampshire will be somewhat behind the curve in implementing its network simply due to the federal agencies that need to approve the RAN (FCC), award a grant (NTIA), and enter into a spectrum lease for Band 14 (FirstNet). Read the Entire Blog Here 

FirstNet gives Texas emergency workers ‘ruthless preemption’ on cellphone networksSan Antonio Express-News
Dec 13 14:00 Ruthless preemption basically processes their messages and data before all others under the First Responder Network Authority plan, or FirstNet, a national public safety broadband network run by AT&T. Preemption shifts non-emergency traffic to another line when the line becomes crowded, allowing …

AT&T launches preemption for FirstNet customersRCR Wireless News
Dec 13 12:25 That category includes fire, law enforcement, emergency medical services, emergency managers, dispatch and Public Safety Answering Points, according to AT&T. Some limited priority for public safety traffic has been offered by wireless carriers over the years, but it has typically carried extra charges …

Missouri To Opt Into FirstNetWireless Week
Dec 12 14:25 Officials from FirstNet said that their discussions with Missouri included expanding wireless coverage particularly in rural areas and allocating network assets that could be deployed as needed to support public safety. First responders in the state received immediate access to AT&T’s existing LTE …

Sununu decision on emergency responder network due todayThe Union Leader
Dec  7 06:10 In New Hampshire’s case, that would mean creating a New Hampshire network with Rivada, one of the unsuccessful bidders that pursued the FirstNet contract to build the network, which went to AT&T. The state already has a tentative contract with Rivada, depending on Sununu’s final decision, which is …

LA-RICS reaches agreement with AT&T on transfer of region’s public-safety LTE network for FirstNetUrgent Communications
Dec 14 00:25 Incorporation of the LA-RICS LTE systemthe largest early builder public-safety LTE network in the countryinto FirstNet has been a priority for LA-RICS officials. In addition, Edson repeatedly has noted that LA-RICS built its cell sites to the public-safety-grade standard established by the National …

FirstNet will better assist first responders with communication during emergenciesNTV
Dec 13 18:40 Communication between first responders in disasters and emergencies are critical when lives are in danger. National FirstNet Broadband Project was created to help enhance public safety communications and to keep first responders connected in emergency situations. “After the 9/11 attacks on our …

FirstNet launches preemption as Verizon bows out of California RFPFierceWireless
Dec 13 17:00 AT&T and FirstNet launched ruthless preemption, giving first responders top priority to its network even during times of extreme congestion. …

First state opts out as AT&T’s FirstNet proposals reach crucial final weeksxmlpush
Dec 13 15:45 With just a little more than two weeks remaining before the deadline, 36 states and territories have opted into the nationwide network for first responders that will be built by AT&T (NYSE: T). But uncertainty remains for the Dallas telecom, which is contracted by the U.S. government’s FirstNet Authority for the job: 19 states and territories have yet to announce their choice, while one recently became the first to opt-out. Last week, New Hampshire…

The Downside of Net NeutralityScientific American
Dec 13 12:35 We particularly like that the FCC is now proposing to, Restore the determination that mobile broadband is not a ‘commercial mobile service’ subject to heavy-handed regulation. Essentially, the principles of the 2015 framework aimed to ensure equal treatment of traffic passing through networks.

FirstNet activates preemption for opt-in state usersStateScoop
Dec 13 10:55 With preemption, FirstNet users will not have to compete with normal commercial mobile traffic. Instead, first responders will have access to voice, text, apps and mobile internet service, regardless of how many users in a single place are accessing AT&T’s network. The service shifts non-emergency traffic …

Commerce Files One More Response Prior to Hearing on FirstNet FOIA CaseMissionCritical
Dec 13 10:03 Attorneys for the Department of Commerce (DOC) submitted one last response to a lawsuit surrounding Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests related to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) before the case moves to a court hearing Dec. 15. read more

Results of 2017 National EAS Test Show ImprovementTV Technology
Dec 12 19:40 WASHINGTONA preliminary analysis of results from the 2017 nationwide EAS test in September show overall improvement compared to last year’s test, but the performance of TV broadcasters appears to have slipped slightly in one key area, according to a public notice from the FCC’s Public Safety …

How Much Does AT&T Stand To Gain From FirstNet?Forbes
Dec 12 15:30 Earlier this year, AT&T won a 25-year contract from the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to build and run the first broadband network that will cater …

Federal initiative to focus on broadband access for rural cancer patientsAmerican Hospital Association
Dec 14 08:15 The Federal Communications Commission and National Cancer Institute have signed a memorandum of unde…

FCC Boss Claims Net Neutrality Hurts Small ISPs, But The FCC’s Own Data Proves OtherwiseTechdirt Corporate Intelligence
Dec 14 08:15 By now we’ve noted countless times how the claim that net neutrality hurt broadband investment is indisputably false . It’s not a debate. Public SEC filings, earnings reports, and numerous CEO statements to investors (who, unlike you, they’re legally not allowed to lie to) have disproven this canard. Data suggesting otherwise usually originates with ISP-paid economists more than willing to twist, distort, cherry pick and massage the numbers until they comply with whatever message is…

Preemption services now available for FirstNet primary users in opt-in statesHomeland Preparedness News
Dec 14 08:15 Now, with the launch of preemption on FirstNet, for the first time, public safety is ensured a ‘fast lane’ to connect. FirstNet will provide reliability, confidence and ability for first responders to be able to communicate during emergency operations. Virginia was first in to opt in, and we’re all in to ensure …

Why Dish Network Needs To Roll Out Services For Its Spectrum HoldingsForbes
Dec 13 14:35 In March this year, Dish Network raised $1 billion in debt to finance wireless and spectrum-related strategic transactions. In July, reports surfaced that Dish Network and Amazon could partner to set up a narrow band Internet of Things (IoT) network. While Dish has remained tight-lipped about any …

Thales to Supply Multiband Tactical Radios to ArmyExecutiveBiz
Dec 13 09:45 IMBITR is designed to support interoperability between joint and coalition forces through narrowband, wideband and satellite communications networks. The service branch ordered the radios as part of a network modernization initiative. SFABs are tasked to assist, advise and collaborate with foreign …

Summarizing the harms of the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rulesAmerican Enterprise Institute
Dec 13 09:15 The FCC proposes to strengthen transparency provisions so that consumers and innovators have more information about their broadband connection including network management, performance, and commercial terms. Ideally, consumers will use this information to drive greater customization of …

FirstNet launches ruthless-preemption functionality for ‘primary’ public-safety subscribersUrgent Communications
Dec 12 17:40 After the carrier was awarded the FirstNet nationwide contract in March, AT&T officials vowed that preemptive access would available to primary public-safety FirstNet subscribers by the end of the year. While some public-safety entities have used commercial broadband services for years to support …

FirstNet documents reportedly leaked in VermontRCR Wireless News
Dec 12 12:40 At the time, Whitaker criticized the rejection of the FoIA request and told the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council in an email that there was a need for more transparency by FirstNet and precisely what privacy, reliability and accountability compromises we are being asked to make …

Massive IoT, the new focus of IoT standardization: 5G AmericasTelecom Lead
Dec  7 04:15 Today, Low-Power Wide-Area (LPWA) is already gaining attention and it is anticipated that cellular-based technologies such as LTE-M (Machine) and Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) will become the leading LPWA standards by 2020. This would allow operators to choose from several Cellular IoT (CIoT) …

Digital communications are revolutionising the railway businessITWeb
Dec  7 02:15 Then there is LTE’s narrowband component, a low-power, highly dedicated way to add sensors and other IOT systems to the railway without deploying a new wireless network. “It costs billions to maintain all the equipment every year,” Frisch explained.” Just saving a tiny bit of that maintenance cost will …

OEC/NCSWIC Publish White Paper on T-Band Giveback and Implications for Public Safety

From the White Paper:  The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-961) requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to recover and auction T-Band spectrum, currently in use by public safety agencies, for commercial use by February 2021. Additionally, the Act requires the FCC to clear public safety operations from this portion of the band within two years of auction close (i.e., early 2023). The ultra-high frequency (UHF) spectrum between 470–512 megahertz (MHz)—also known as the “T-Band”—supplies a significant complement of channels to support public safety operations and regional interoperability in 11 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas. Specific channels in this portion of T-Band spectrum are not contiguous and vary by metropolitan area and TV channels within that area. While a licensing freeze was not required by the law, the FCC placed a freeze on all new and expanded T-Band operations for public safety and industrial and business licensees.

Immediately following the law’s enactment, public safety communications experts concluded that solutions to challenges of spectrum relocation remain complex and costly for affected local and State public safety entities. Read complete OEC/NCSWIC White Paper.

THE REPORT. In March 2013, NPSTC convened a T-Band working group to study the giveback and its implications for public safety communications, including the potential cost of relocation efforts. The full report is available on the NPSTC website, and cites costs, spectrum alternatives, and limited spectrum gains as potential limitations:

  • Cost: Despite being a requirement of the Act, auction relocation, which is estimated to exceed $5.9 billion (estimate from 2013). Additionally, auction proceeds do not consider private sector relocation costs, which may decrease the percentage of auction funding used specifically for public safety spectrum reallocation.
  • Spectrum Alternatives: The law requires licensees to migrate from the T-Band to other, unspecified spectrum; however, insufficient alternatives leave few options for identifying replacement spectrum. The very high frequency (VHF), UHF, and 700/800 MHz bands have few available channels. Also, the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) is not yet available to support existing mission critical voice operations displaced by T-Band relocation.
  • Gaining Public Broadband Spectrum: Despite its initial intentions for repurposing, the relocation of public safety operations from the T-Band is unlikely to produce significant additional broadband spectrum for public use.

THE UPDATE REPORT. In May 2016, NPSTC released an Update Report5 to identify any significant changes in the public safety demand for T-Band spectrum or the viability of potential relocation options. The update study confirmed the conclusions from the 2013 NPSTC T-Band Report remain valid. The report indicated only minimal numbers of public safety T-Band licenses have been cancelled or allowed to expire without renewal since the previous NPSTC study. Also, various jurisdictions indicated their T-Band systems and spectrum are still essential to effective communications and interoperability. Although the FCC released 24 reserve channels from the 700 MHz band earmarked for T-Band relocation, the number of additional channels is significantly less than the T-Band channels in use, especially in the top five T-Band areas. While related standards progressed, much work remains to provide a viable mission critical voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) solution with coverage, guaranteed voice capacity, and local control equivalent to that of current T-Band systems.

Despite FirstNet’s upcoming buildout of broadband data and imaging capabilities not supported on current land mobile networks, it is still premature to determine whether equivalent broadband coverage would be in place and mission critical VoLTE could be proven reliable in the public safety stressed environment. While most of Public Law 112-96 is positive for public safety, Section 6103 of that law, which requires auction of the T-Band spectrum, still imposes a negative impact on public safety communications and interoperability. In turn, this also could negatively impact the operations of public safety agencies and critical industrial and business systems that provide emergency response and infrastructure support to a population of more than 90 million people in the 11 T-Band areas.

1 See Public Law 112-96 enacted on February 22, 2012:

2 Electromagnetic spectrum, commonly referred to as spectrum, is the range of all possible frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. Radio spectrum or wireless spectrum refers to the part of the electromagnetic spectrum corresponding to radio frequencies in the range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz that may be may be used for wireless communication.

3 The 11 affected T-Band markets include Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

4 See the NPSTC T-Band Report:

5 See the NPSTC T-Band Update Report: