President Trump signed an executive order today directing the secretary of Transportation to launch an initiative to pilot and validate advanced drone operations in partnership with certain state and local governments. In choosing proposals to pilot, the secretary should consider, among other things, the commitment of state and local governments and drone operators to use “radio spectrum efficiently and competitively,” according to the executive order.
The Policy and Licensing Division of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau today adopted an order in WT docket 02-55 to resolve 800 megahertz rebanding disputes between the state of Indiana and Sprint Corp. in a hearing before an administrative law judge. “As discussed below, the issues relate to the costs to be reconciled as part of the closing of the Parties’ Frequency Reconfiguration Agreement (FRA),” the order said.
The FCC today released a seven-item agenda for its Oct. 24 meeting that includes a proposal to enable nationwide number portability, a notice of proposed rulemaking exploring changes to its 3.5 gigahertz band rules, and a draft order to enable law enforcement and security personnel to obtain phone numbers for threatening calls made with caller ID blocked. The Commission also plans to consider hearing compatibility orders and an order eliminating its traffic and revenue reports and streamlining its circuit capacity reports. Also on the tentative agenda are items dealing with the broadcast “main studio rule” and reporting obligations.
An NPRM and notice of inquiry in Wireline Competition dockets 17-244 and 13-97 would propose rule changes and seek comment on enabling nationwide number portability (NNP), which the draft item suggests would “promote competition between all service providers, regardless of size or type of service (wireline or wireless).”
The draft item also “explore[s] how technical aspects of our current LNP [local number portability] and dialing parity rules hinder the efficient routing of calls throughout the network, causing inefficiencies and delays.” Continue reading
The Government Wireless Technology & Communications Association (GWTCA) asked the Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC) today to withdraw a 2014 petition in which it asked the FCC to give 800 megahertz band incumbents six months to apply for guard band and expansion band licenses before making them available to applicants for new systems (TR Daily, April 24, 2014). In a letter to LMCC that was filed in joint Wireless Telecommunications–Public Safety (WP) docket 16-261, GWTCA stressed the shortage of available private land mobile radio frequencies and said that circumstances have changed since the petition was filed.
“It was LMCC’s expressed concern that speculation for such frequencies was impeding the ability of businesses to access this spectrum,” today’s filing said, noting that the FCC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on the issue last year (TR Daily, Aug. 18, 2016). “At this time, there is a significant problem with private land mobile radio entities being unable to access additional 800 MHz spectrum. GWTCA members have reported numerous incidences of entities, including incumbent licensees, unable to obtain spectrum for their very real business needs. For example, the FCC recently denied a request by the American Electric Power Service Corporation for access to 800 MHz Expansion Band spectrum, citing the ongoing proceeding. Continue reading
IMPROVING PUBLIC SAFETY COMMUNICATIONS IN THE 800 MHZ BAND. Granted the Declaratory Ruling. (Dkt No. 02-55 ). Action by: Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. Adopted: 10/12/2017 by Declaratory Ruling. (DA No. 17-1004). PSHSB https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-17-1004A1.docx
The Vison Which Became FirstNet There are a number of people within the States and the Public Safety community who are not happy with the coverage which AT&T/FirstNet is offering on day one. Perhaps if they had a better understanding of the fact that the RFP could have been won by someone who would built out just the FirstNet Band 14 and that it might have had to have been built out as a greenfield (totally new) network they would better understand the difference between a network which is available today and one that might be 3-5 years away in their area.
Sometimes we need to reflect on the past and to remind those who have come to both embrace and complain about FirstNet about the original dreams and aspirations of those who have been involved in this journey, most for over 11 years and a few even longer. During the activities which resulted in Congressional Approval and President Obama signature which allocated the 10 MHz of spectrum referred to as the D block and created FirstNet, there were a lot of discussions by those involved. There was a discussion about the type of network or networks which was (were) needed. Some favored a “network of networks” that is a number of different networks, perhaps state by state or by dividing the Country into thirds but the consensus was that a single nationwide network would be the best approach and the focus shifted to that goal.
There were other discussions held by the member of the Public Safety Alliance (PSA) as well as the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) which held the license for the original 10 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum the FCC had allocated for a public safety broadband network. After FirstNet was formed some on the FirstNet board showed a diagram outlining a plan where each and every device on the FirstNet spectrum would also be able to seamlessly roam across all of the commercial broadband networks as well as the FirstNet spectrum. This, we were assured, would provide the best way to achieve a true mission critical system. As you might imagine the public safety community reacted in a negative manner and over time this idea as scraped. Next up after FirstNet regrouped was go to bid for both the one network approach and essentially a network of networks concept. Fortunately, FirstNet listened and the RFP came out calling for a single, nationwide network. Read The entire Blog Here Continue reading
Both the Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee’s emergency preparedness, response, and communications subcommittee expressed concern today about the fate of first responder communications in major metropolitan areas, including New York, when they are forced to migrate their wireless communications out of the T-band in the coming years.
The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 required the FCC to reallocate and auction public safety spectrum in the T-band by 2021 and relocate incumbents by 2023. Proceeds from the auction can be used to cover the relocation costs of public safety licensees. The T-band encompasses TV channels 14-20 (470-512 megahertz). It is used by public safety entities in 11 markets.
During a hearing today, subcommittee Chairman Dan Donovan (R., N.Y.), expressed concern in his opening statement that there are “not sufficient alternative bands for these [first responder communications] to rely on.” Chairman Donovan also expressed concern about cybersecurity risks to public safety communications. “We must be sure our nation’s first responders are aware of cybersecurity threats,” he said.
Ranking member Donald M. Payne (D., N.J.) said in his opening statement that he too is “concerned about the requirement that first responders in certain metropolitan areas vacate the T-band by 2023.” He also said he is “concerned [about] the dwindling number of full-time SWICs,” or statewide interoperability coordinators.
Witness Ronald Hewitt, director of the Office of Emergency Communications in the Department of Homeland Security and a retired U.S. Coast Guard admiral, said in his testimony that it is difficult for SWICS, who are responsible for a state’s land mobile radio communications, to coordinate with other state agencies that are responsible for other types of communications. He noted that his office began working with the National Governors Association last year to improve coordination.
Witness Ed Parkinson, director–government affairs at the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), acknowledged that “there are areas where we still need to do a better job,” including engagement with tribal authorities. “We ask that going forward, you judge us by our network,” he said.
Witness Mark Goldstein, director–physical infrastructure issues at the Government Accountability Office, which released a report in June on FirstNet, said that tribal stakeholders had expressed concern that FirstNet has not engaged directly with them, and that in responding to the draft report, FirstNet agreed to do so.
Chairman Donovan asked the witnesses about the T-band issue, noting that a report by the National Safety Council has found that “there is insufficient spectrum for first responders to move to.”
Mr. Hewitt said, “The T-band auction has been a major concern of the SAFECOM group. … We’re reviewing that. We’re working with the FCC which is required to do that, looking at their options.”
Mr. Parkinson suggested that lawmakers should address questions on the issue, including the magnitude of the spectrum shortfall that public safety agencies are facing, to the FCC.
Mr. Hewitt said, “There is not spectrum in those major metro areas to move that traffic to.” Continue reading