FCC Urged to Abandon Personal-Use Booster Signals Restriction

March 24, 2017–Commenters, including wireless carriers, trade groups, corporations, and booster manufacturers, urged the FCC to grant the petition filed in December 2016 by Wilson Electronics LLC to repeal or modify the personal-use restriction on consumer signal boosters (TRDaily, March 3, 2017). They argued that improvements in booster signal technology, the failure of FCC concerns about signal interference to materialize, and the adequacy of existing protections justify elimination of the personal-use restriction.

In 2013, the FCC issued an order with three measures involving consumer signal boosters that were intended to alleviate the commission’s concern that the boosters could interfere with existing wireless networks: (1) a new standard to ensure that new signal booster models were sufficiently designed to avoid network interference, (2) a registration requirement mandating that signal booster users register their boosters with their carriers, and (3) a personal use restriction limiting booster use to individuals in their homes. Wilson’s petition seeks to remove the third measure as unnecessarily restrictive. Continue reading

Text of Robocall NOI Seeks Comment on Traceback, Caller ID Authentication

March 24, 2017–Among the possible “objective criteria” for determining whether a call is likely illegal “to a high degree of certainty” and can be blocked by a provider without violating the FCC’s call completion rules are information obtained through traceback efforts, the FCC said in the text of its notice of proposed rulemaking and notice of inquiry on blocking unlawful robocalls adopted at yesterday’s Commission meeting yesterday (TRDaily, March 23) and released late yesterday. “We ask commenters to submit information on whether some methods more accurately identify illegal calls in comparison to other methods, and whether some methods can identify unwanted calls but are less accurate in identifying illegal calls. Do certain methods work best in combination? Are some methods acceptable when used in the context of an informed consumer choosing to implement call blocking with knowledge of the risks of false positives, but might be less acceptable when used in the context of provider-initiated blocking? What can the Commission do to help providers minimize the possibility for false positives when blocking calls based on such methods?” the FCC asks in the NOI. Continue reading

CBP, DHS S&T Award $200K to San Mateo Start-up to Improve Small Unmanned Aircraft System Security

WASHINGTON—The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) announced today a $200K award to CryptoMove to enhance U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) security. CBP’s use of sUAS enhances mission capabilities and supports U.S. Border Patrol agents’ activities, including greater overall situational awareness and detection, tracking, apprehension, and search and rescue operations. The project is awarded under the Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) Other Transaction Solicitation (OTS) aimed at non-traditional performers to offer solutions to some of the toughest threats facing DHS and the homeland security mission. Continue reading

FCC Approves VRS Trials Using Specialist Interpreters

March 23, 2017–The FCC today unanimously authorized eight-month trials using video relay service (VRS) specialists in legal, medical, and computer support terminology when appropriate and using deaf VRS interpreters on calls placed by people with limited signing ability or comprehension, although one Commissioner said he would not support making these changes permanent unless the trials demonstrate improved efficiency and cost-effectiveness. In a report and order, notice of inquiry, further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM), and order adopted in Consumer and Governmental Affairs docket 10-51 and 03-123 at today’s Commission meeting, the FCC also authorized VRS providers to make phone numbers available to hearing individuals who know American Sign Language so they can make direct-dialed video calls with deaf individuals.

It also authorized a pilot program to allow VRS interpreters to do their jobs from home “under strict requirements to maintain call quality and confidentiality,” according to an FCC press release.

“To help consumers compare VRS providers, the report and order requires [reporting of] monthly data on [each provider’s] speed of answer,” Robert Aldrich, a legal adviser in the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, said while presenting the item to the Commissioners. Continue reading

S&T Press Release: Encryption Requirements to Change P25 CAP Approved Equipment List

Washington The U.S. Department of Homeland Security today announced a change in the Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program (P25 CAP) listing of grant-eligible radio equipment for first responders. In order to be fully compliant with all P25 CAP requirements, radio equipment that requires encryption must use Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256. Equipment that uses proprietary or other non-standard encryption capabilities without also providing the standard encryption (AES 256) capability does not meet the requirement specified in the Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program Encryption Requirements Compliance Assessment Bulletin (CAB).

“Interoperability is a critical issue for first responders, said DHS Acting Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Robert Griffin. “The problem posed by using variant, non-standard encryption capabilities exacerbates the interoperability challenge.” Continue reading

Senators Reintroduce Bills Focused on Vehicle, Aircraft Cybersecurity

March 22, 2017–Sens. Edward J. Markey (D., Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) said today they reintroduced legislation that would direct the federal government to establish standards for automobile cybersecurity and to address cybersecurity vulnerabilities of the U.S. commercial aviation system.

The two bills – the Security and Privacy in Your Car (SPY Car) Act and the Cybersecurity Standards for Aircraft to Improve Resilience (Cyber AIR) Act – were introduced in the last congress (TRDaily, July 21, 2015, and April 7, 2016), but never made it out of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

The SPY Car bill would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to work with the Federal Trade Commission to develop standards to prevent hacking into control systems of vehicles manufactured for sale in the U.S. NHTSA would have 18 months after the bill becomes law to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to put the bill’s provisions into effect, and three years after passage to issue final rules. The rules would then be reviewed every three years thereafter and updated as necessary.  Continue reading

FCC Bureau Seeks Comment on Probe into AT&T 911 Outages

March 23, 2017–The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau today issued a public notice seeking comment by April 7 on the bureau’s investigation into AT&T, Inc.’s wireless 911 service outages earlier this month.  The bureau’s investigation involves a widely reported outage of AT&T Mobility’s voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) 911 service on March 8, and what appears to be a lesser VoLTE 911 service outage on March 11 that had not been widely reported before today.

Lisa Fowlkes, acting chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, said today during a presentation to FCC Commissioners at their monthly meeting that based on the bureau’s preliminary inquiry into the outages, the March 8 disruption was the result of AT&T reconfiguring connections in its network that affected 911 call routing for VoLTE, and that due to those changes routing of 911 calls failed. She said the March 8 outage lasted for about five hours and was mostly experienced in the southeastern, central, and northeastern portions of the U.S., although it eventually impacted a “significant portion” of the remainder of the country.  According to Ms. Fowlkes, AT&T normally sees a volume of about 44,000 VoLTE 911 calls per day, but on March 8 about 12,600 callers were not able to reach 911 directly, although a small number of callers were able to connect via backup call center routing performed by manual processing.  She said some callers heard fast busy signals, others heard continuous ringing, and others heard nothing. Continue reading