Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, December 7, 2017

Public Safety Networks LMR and FirstNet Working Together

There is still a lot of confusion out in Public Safety and elected official land about the future of Land Mobile Radio (LMR) as FirstNet is deployed, and there is still the issue of the eleven major metro areas slated to lose the T-Band and their LMR systems if we cannot convince Congress to make some changes to the law. I was happy to see that during the recent webinar held by Mission Critical Magazine, Chester County, PA speakers were questioned as to whether LMR will be replaced by FirstNet, they responded with a resounding NO! (Chester County was the first countywide fire dispatch system I designed and installed in the early 1970s.) However, it seems there is still an issue of spreading the word, not so much to the public safety community but to IT departments and elected and appointed officials responsible for the budgets, both capex and opex, that fund LMR systems.

It is no wonder some people are confused since we keep seeing comments, press releases, and experts talking about how soon Mission Critical Push-To-Talk (MCPTT) is coming to FirstNet, and how some still believe the off-network 3GPP standard known as ProSe will be a factor. However, even the developers of the public safety system in the United Kingdom have realized they won’t be able to provide reliable off-network PTT over LTE. For that reason, they are planning to use Tetra radios with simplex or talk-around. The more the experts talk about the technology issues with Mission Critical PTT, the more they seem to be losing sight of the fact that the technology over the network is only part of the issue. If the network itself is not mission-critical, PTT over the network cannot be mission-critical, even if it is called “Mission Critical PTT” (MCPPT).

It is, I believe, vitally important that those in government who make decisions about funding LMR radio systems, upgrading them, keeping them running and operational understand the dilemma the standards body, labs, and pro-MCPTT folks have created for the public safety community. There have been instances where public safety officials are presenting their next year’s budget and they are questioned by the budget committee about why public safety still needs to invest in LMR technology. The public safety officials usually make a good case for why, but one or more of the budget committee members have heard from technology experts that MCPTT will be real and will be rolled out in 2018. They simply do not understand that every day public safety bets their lives on their communications systems. Read the Entire Blog Here Continue reading

Andy Seybold Public Safety Advocate, November 30, 2017

FirstNet Coverage and PTT. I hope everyone who was able to take time off for Thanksgiving enjoyed the holiday and I want to thank all the public safety personnel who worked last Thursday so the rest of us could spend time with our families and friends. During our trip east, I was keeping tabs on coverage provided by AT&T where we were traveling and while in several states, I talked with the public safety community about today’s AT&T coverage and what might still be needed. Even though a state such as Arizona or Maine has already opted in to FirstNet, it does not mean the public safety agencies are required to make use of the FirstNet/AT&T broadband network. However, since AT&T has already invested a lot of money in the public safety community, and has allocated more money and resources to bring FirstNet up and operational as soon as possible, AT&T would like to have as many public safety customers onboard as possible.

In Arizona where the overwhelming perception within the public safety community was that AT&T’s coverage is not as good as at least one other network operator’s coverage, those who have acquired AT&T devices and done some testing have found that AT&T coverage has increased since they last looked at it. Granted, there are still some spots that need to be covered but several public safety agencies have stated that the FirstNet/AT&T coverage in their jurisdiction is sufficient to join FirstNet and then work with AT&T, federal grants, or in some cases even self-funding additional coverage that AT&T will then include in its overall footprint. There are still some major differences in coverage in some areas, but while it is not possible to see the official FirstNet/AT&T coverage maps over the build-out period, reviewing coverage maps on FirstNet.com shows that most of the areas of concern will be covered.

One thing I have found confusing not only for FirstNet/AT&T coverage but for the other nationwide networks as well, is that it is difficult to identify where a network operator owns and runs its own network and where it has contracted with rural carriers to provide coverage to their subscribers. This is important to know because some rural carriers have not yet rolled out LTE and are offering only 2G and 3G, and we are not privy to their build-out plans. I believe that because of the increased push for rural coverage for first responders, as well as the need to provide coverage for rural businesses and citizens, we will see a renewed effort by all of the carriers. As I have mentioned before, we are having success with county and tribal governments that know they want and need coverage beyond what FirstNet/AT&T will bring to their rural areas. Read the Entire Blog Here Continue reading

Microsoft Touts Use of TVWS in Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

Microsoft Corp. today touted the benefits of TV white spaces technology it has deployed to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to help their residents stay connected. In a blog posting today, Shelley McKinley, Microsoft’s general manager-technology and corporate responsibility, said, “In partnership with NetHope, government agencies, local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and local TV broadcasters, we have deployed TV White Space (TVWS) technology from our Airband initiative to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

TVWS are unused blocks of broadcast spectrum located between the frequencies assigned to television stations. It creates wireless broadband connections over great distances and in rugged terrain, with no line of sight. In Utuado, TVWS has been used to reestablish internet connectivity to a food distribution site, a health clinic and the University of Puerto Rico. These sites also serve as internet hotspots where people in the community can come and connect with their family and friends. … In addition to Utuado, we have TVWS sites up and running in Humacao, Puerto Rico; and in the U.S. Virgin Islands in St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas. And, TVWS will soon be working in Barranquitas and San Lorenzo in Puerto Rico.”

Courtesy TRDaily

Sprint, Indiana Reach 800 MHz Band Settlement

Sprint Corp. and the state of Indiana have reached a settlement in an 800 megahertz rebanding dispute that had been referred to an FCC administrative law judge, the parties told FCC Chief ALJ Richard Sippel in a Friday filing in WT docket 02-55 (TR Daily, Oct. 19). “The parties currently are in the process of documenting this comprehensive settlement and anticipate as soon as Indiana has made the specified settlement payment to Sprint by no later than the end of the calendar year, if not before, that the parties will ask the Commission to dismiss the Hearing Designation Order with prejudice,” the filing said. “The comprehensive settlement will include mutual releases by the parties and will eliminate the need for any Commission hearing or other further review of any aspect of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau’s May 24, 2017 Order in this matter.”

Sprint and Indiana asked the judge to postpone commencement of pre-hearing procedures. “The parties request a reasonable amount of time, of not more than a month, to document their agreed upon settlement and to file for dismissal of the matter with prejudice,” the filed added.

Courtesy TRDaily

 

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, November 18, 2017

Unanswered Questions

Last week I attended and moderated a panel at the IWCE LTE Communications forum in Dallas. The event was well attended, the panel sessions were very good and informative, and I was able to meet and spend time with more Advocate readers and others. All in all, it was a good trip and well worth it. However, during the forum I asked two questions and neither was answered to everyone’s satisfaction. The answers were vague and did not address what I consider to be the current needs of the public safety community.

The first question had to do with why, after all this time, 5G will still be asynchronous (faster from the cell site to the device than from the device to the cell site). The second question concerned open standards and the ability for public safety agencies to make use of Push-To-Talk (PTT) applications they currently use or want to use. The questions were asked during different panels but the answers were similar and what I consider to be non-answers. During one of the breaks I was approached by a number of people who said they had the same questions and the responses they heard did not provide them with any real answers.

Based on the responses I received and the other attendees’ expressions of frustrations, I decided I would highlight these questions and discuss why the responses do not address the communications needs of the public safety community today. Both responses dealt with things becoming better sometime in the future (unspecified how long). Also in both cases, it was clear that no one is considering near-term solutions to help with day-to-day operations of the public safety community. Even after the final standards are published, there will have to be some tweaks to make today’s solutions compatible.  Read the Entire Blog Here Continue reading

Entities Disagree on WRC-19 Positions

A number of parties have weighed in on proposals and preliminary views approved recently by the FCC’s World Radiocommunication Conference Advisory Committee (WRC-19), including proposals for which informal working groups couldn’t reach a consensus (TR Daily, Oct. 30).

For example, the Wi-Fi Alliance submitted comments in IB docket 16-185 endorsing View A of a draft proposal for agenda item 9.1, issue 9.1.5, related to the protection of radar systems in the 5 gigahertz band.

“Wi-Fi’s ability to deliver broadband connectivity and the associated socioeconomic benefits depend on spectrum access, which would be significantly undermined if the proposal included in WAC/047-View B is adopted by the U.S. for WRC-19,” the alliance argued. “At a minimum, this proposal would create a highly unstable and precarious regulatory environment for existing and future Wi-Fi operations in US and worldwide – stifling industry’s innovation, investment and development. Wi-Fi Alliance remains committed to finding workable regulatory solutions to protect radar systems in the 5 GHz band. Once these solutions are developed, there will be an opportunity to properly address protection of radar systems at the appropriate World Radiocommunication Conference. Until then, however, it is inappropriate to impose regulatory requirements that, by everyone’s admission, cannot be implemented. In the absence of a current regulatory solution, Wi-Fi Alliance urges adoption of the proposal included in WAC/047-View A.”

But Raytheon Company said it “supports View B as striking an appropriate balance between the interests of existing and future unlicensed Wireless Access Systems (‘WAS’), including Radio Local Area Networks (‘RLANs’) operations, and primary licensed radar (radiolocation and radiodetermination) operations as they have progressed and continue to evolve in the 5250-5350 and 5470-5725 MHz bands.”

Another agenda item for which there was not consensus is agenda item 1.8, which deals with the consideration of regulatory actions to support Global Maritime Distress Safety Systems (GMDSS) modernization and the introduction of additional GMDSS satellite systems.

“The Commission should support the recommendations in View A of WAC/039. The View A proposal on WRC-19 Agenda Item 1.8 is more encompassing than the View B proposal, and will provide flexibility in negotiating a regional WRC-19 proposal on this matter with our partners in CITEL,” said Iridium Communications, Inc.

But Ligado Networks Subsidiary LLC said that “View A proposes changes to the ITU Radio Regulations but omits language necessary to make the intended impact of those changes clear with respect to portions of the Big LEO band. Consequently, the View A approach creates uncertainty and invites future disputes. In contrast, View B proposes changes that achieve similar objectives, but does so in a manner that appropriately limits the impact of those changes with respect to the Big LEO band, avoiding unnecessary ambiguities in the application of the relevant rules. Because this approach would achieve the stated objectives of both draft proposals more precisely and more effectively, Ligado urges the Commission to endorse View B.”

Proposals and views on other agenda items also drew comments.

For example, the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council submitted views on agenda item 1.3, “involving potentially upgrading satellite overlay operations in the 460-470 MHz band from secondary to co-primary status with respect to terrestrial land-based operations. As noted in the NTIA Draft Preliminary Views for WRC-19 which accompany the Public Notice, this proposal has the potential to adversely impact land mobile operations in the band, including public safety operations. NPSTC is concerned that the caveats and testing proposed by NTIA will become diminished through the overall WRC negotiation process. Also, any future U.S. testing should include the public safety community.”- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, November 10, 2017

FirstNet’s Competition. The law that created FirstNet is very clear when it comes to states and territories opting in or out of FirstNet. There are two ways to opt in: The governor of the state or territory decides to opt in by the December 28, 2017 deadline, or the governor simply does nothing in which case the opt in for that state is automatic. Opting out requires the state to provide the FCC, within 180 days, a plan demonstrating that the Radio Access Network (RAN), the only portion of the network authorized by law for states to build on their own, will be 100-percent compatible with the FirstNet network. The state will then negotiate a grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for some of the network. As a final step, there must be a spectrum lease agreement between the state and FirstNet. All of this is called out in the law Congress passed in 2012. These are not conditions imposed by FirstNet.

Now if a state opts out, the FirstNet mandate is that the radio access network provided by the state or its vendor must be connected to the FirstNet core when public safety users populate the FirstNet network. FirstNet has also said that secondary users may, in fact, be routed to a different core located within the state or operated by the vendor. Again, ALL public safety traffic is to be routed to the FirstNet core. This makes sense when you understand this is to be a nationwide network sharing resources and applications that is usable across the entire nation.

Once a state has opted in there are no additional federal rules that impact public safety agencies within the state. Each agency has the option to join the FirstNet system, with its existing broadband provider, or to not use any broadband services. This local level is the area in which competition is occurring. Verizon has said it will actively seek to keep its existing public safety customers and to add more customers. It is also trying to obtain permission to host its own public safety core. Both FirstNet and AT&T are opposed to this with good reason. Having multiple standalone cores does not lend itself to fulfilling the goal of full interoperability this network was envisioned to provide. I have been told by experts in the field that if the cores are connected to each other the overall system will be more difficult to secure from a cybersecurity perspective, which is high on the list of network priorities.  Read the Entire Blog here Continue reading