Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, May 25, 2017

Managing FirstNet Capacity
But first some exciting changes!
Public Safety Advocate: Now from a New Home!

  • It will be the same blog
  • It will still be written by Andrew Seybold
  • It will contain the same type of content and continue to pull no punches!
  • If you subscribe through andrewseybold.com or AllThingsFirstNet.com, it will continue to feature news bits of interest

What will change is the website the Public Safety Advocate will call home!
The first issue of my Public Safety Advocate was published in June of 2010. Since then I have published approximately 350 editions and the readership from our subscribers and LinkedIn continues to climb. Over that time, the news items I have attached to the blog have been graciously provided by Discovery Patterns, an interesting company that provides many different types of information sources and scans of thousands of news feeds based on key word searches. I have to say that its results leave Google in the dust when it comes to news coverage!

Where we are going
That is where we have been. Where we are going in the very near future will expand our readership even further. I recently entered into an agreement with a new website called All Things FirstNet that will be the go-to site for, you guessed it, all things FirstNet. After this edition, I will continue to email and send out my blog and news but in a slightly different manner. If you are a subscriber you will receive a thumbnail of the week’s offering and a link to see the blog on the website. On LinkedIn, I will post a notice with a link to the website and, of course, NPSTC will still have full access.

In addition to AllThingsFirstNet.com being the new home of my Public Safety Advocate, it will also contain the archives of all of the blogs I have posted so far. This site will also allow me to post other items and blogs that might impact those involved with both FirstNet and Land Mobile Radio systems. Yes, Land Mobile Radio because we know LMR is not going away and there will be connections and integrations to broadband so it too falls under All Things FirstNet.

The site will be advertising-supported but I assure you that will have no impact on my continuing to “Tell It Like It Is,” or perhaps better to say “As I See It!” I felt that after seven years of providing these weekly blogs it was time to be able to monetize my blogs but I wanted to find a way to do that without having to ask my subscribers to fund my work.

I hope all of you will stay with me and our subscriber database will continue to grow as it has every month since I started. I promise you that while there will be ads on the site to support the content and my blog, my list will NEVER be used to send out unsolicited ads or other extraneous materials. I will retain the copyright for the publication and any additional posts I make to the site, and my intention is to continue to make sure the Public Safety community is well served by those committed to providing communications services for them.
Thank you, and I will be seeing you at AllThingsFirstNet.com. I am excited about this change and hope you are too!

Managing Broadband During an Incident
When FirstNet was preparing to release its RFP we all assumed the spectrum licensed to FirstNet would be the only primary spectrum for Public Safety use and would include pre-emptive priority when the capacity was needed for an incident. However, now it appears as though AT&T has decided to provide access to all of its broadband spectrum as well as band 14. This should mean many of the issues of concern to the Public Safety communications community regarding bandwidth during an incident are not as critical as we thought they might be.

A few weeks ago I wrote about network capacity and our report that helped show that Public Safety would need more than 5 X 5 MHz of broadband spectrum since many of the incidents they will be responding to will be geographically small but could still involve large numbers of Public Safety vehicles and personnel. That is, the number of Public Safety users including vehicles could be a factor in ensuring the broadband network maintains the needed capacity during the incident.

Typically, the amount of radio traffic at an incident escalates from the time the first units are on the scene until the incident is under control. Sometimes this is accomplished in minutes, sometimes in hours, and sometimes in days. More and more incidents are being responded to by law, fire, EMS, and perhaps other types of vehicles for the incident first responders (electric and/or gas company vehicles, tow trucks, and others). Using the Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems available to them today means that normally law, fire, and even EMS are on their own channels or groups and congestion on law channels does not affect fire and EMS channels and vice versa. But with broadband, the available spectrum will be shared by all of those responding to the incident.

The issue that has not really been addressed by FirstNet or the Public Safety community (when we were to have only FirstNet spectrum) was how to manage the capacity of the system in small areas covered by only one or two cell sectors between the services. Of course, the ideal way would be to establish what in incident command structure is referred to as a unified command where all Public Safety disciplines are represented and incident commanders for each service are co-located with the others and sharing information. This would include their broadband demands, what they need, and how to make sure each agency can access the broadband network when it needs it.

But AT&T is offering much more available spectrum than simply the FirstNet 20 MHz of broadband spectrum. It also has LTE up and running on its own 700-MHz spectrum in band 17, in the AWS band 66, and WCS band 30 spectrum. It is also replacing a lot of its systems with LTE in the PCS 1900-MHz band. It is difficult to say exactly how much broadband or LTE spectrum AT&T has available in any given area but when you add the FirstNet spectrum it becomes a very healthy number in most of the United States. Add to that its agreements with rural carriers for FirstNet, and coverage in rural areas and the Public Safety community is doing well with the available spectrum.

This does not mean Public Safety can assume that during an incident it does not have to worry about the amount of capacity it uses in a given area. AT&T has to serve its existing customers even during incidents, and it has to make the network available for 9-1-1 emergency traffic. My take on AT&T’s way of building out FirstNet is that a shortage of network capacity during most types of incidents will not be an issue. However, there may be times when AT&T will have to limit the amount of non-FirstNet spectrum being made available to Public Safety. Remember, though, that when Public Safety is only using FirstNet spectrum lightly for routine tasks, AT&T can be using the spectrum to help relieve congestion on its own spectrum. In practice, the issue of who gets how much spectrum and when during times of high demand will depend on real-time analysis and will have to be managed on a real-time basis. It should also be noted that in most Public Safety incidents the amount of data from the field back up to the network will be greater than the amount of data being sent down to field units. This is typically the opposite of what commercial users experience today. During an incident that may also change as bystanders and the press decide to stream the incident somewhere such as Facebook or back to their studios for retransmission.

Spectrum Management Training
Simply put, AT&T has solved a major issue for the Public Safety community most of the time but both AT&T and Public Safety will face times when there is a need for something or someone to take control of the spectrum and make sure those at the incident have what they need, customers in and around the scene still have access to the network, and there are no delays in 9-1-1 calls.

Today the Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Communications (DHS OEC) offers a series of courses that provide those taking the courses with the title of COMML for Communications Unit Leader. The training is for LMR voice systems and includes developing plans to effectively use incident communications equipment and facilities, managing distribution of communications equipment to incident personnel, and coordinating the installation and testing of communications equipment.

However, the most important function of a COMML is to assist the Incident Commander as a person who understands how to manage complex communications requirements. For more than five years a number of us, including those at OEC, have tried to interest the Public Safety community in adding broadband network management to the COMML program. I would like to see an even more focused and perhaps shorter course to instruct local departments and jurisdictions in how to manage the broadband network. I would include AT&T in the basic training and make sure there was an expedited way to train and certify the COMMB (B for broadband) and those at AT&T who can help make on-the-fly network changes, communicate and understand each other.
As more Public Safety personnel come online with FirstNet, more applications come online and are in use, especially graphics for building plans, live video to and from scenes, and much more, demand for data will grow as it has for commercial customers. Granted there are not nearly as many Public Safety personnel as commercial users on the network but when the Public Safety community needs the bandwidth and capacity, it needs it! Someone who knows how to allocate capacity should be able to work in the field to ensure that those at the incident have what they need and that AT&T customers are not frozen out of the entire AT&T network (which I doubt AT&T would allow to happen, but it could cause some unpleasant issues).

One scenario I use to try to get the capacity issue across to people is to talk about an incident where law, fire, and EMS are all involved, video is coming and going from and to law and fire, and EMS folks are treating a number of patients and sending vitals to a trauma center. Then a doctor asks the paramedic to start an ultrasound to determine if the patient is bleeding internally. The paramedic starts the ultrasound and the data rate up to the trauma center is about 6 MBPS which, unless expected by others on the network, would cause network slowdowns or even network failures. This type of situation will turn Public Safety off when it comes to FirstNet. This means the network must not only be mission-critical for the radio portion of the network, it must be Public Safety-grade when it comes to capacity availability. This takes the training of COMMB individuals with quick and reliable access to the AT&T operations centers.

The first time the FirstNet network cannot sustain the capacity required is the last that the Public Safety community will trust it. I am concerned that any initial failures will not be caused by a lack of network capacity but by a lack of training and understanding that for the first time, Public Safety agencies at an incident are sharing spectrum they need to do their jobs. It must be managed properly so they all can have access to the spectrum when needed, AT&T customers can also have access to it, and anyone who dials 9-1-1 will be able to connect quickly!
Andrew M. Seybold ©2017 Andrew Seybold, Inc.
Now on to the news

FirstNet provides next steps for nationwide broadband network rolloutHomeland Preparedness News via Google Alerts May 24 20:20 FirstNet provides next steps for nationwide broadband network rollout …

AT&T CEO expects accelerated FirstNet buildout, promises hardening, ‘ruthless preemption’ for …Urgent Communications via Google Alerts May 23 16:40 AT&T expects to deploy the Band 14 FirstNet public-safety LTE network much quicker than the five-year schedule included in the request for …

AT&T’s FirstNet Build Could Start Sooner Than You ThinkWireless Week via Google Alerts May 23 15:40 CEO Randall Stephenson said this week at an investor conference AT&T is aiming to kick off construction of its nationwide network for first responders …

Government of Canada continues research and targeted engagement on implementation models …Canada NewsWire via Google Alerts May 19 22:20 This engagement and analysis will provide the opportunity to better understand the potential benefits of a Public Safety Broadband Network, and will …

FirstNet: The Wait Is Almost OverMilTech via Google Alerts May 18 14:55 FirstNet is working to give public safety officials our own dedicated, nationwide wireless network so we won’t have to compete with private users for …

Hytera Debuts LTE-PMR Convergence Solution at CCW 2017Business Wire via Google Alerts May 18 08:00 Hytera’s LTE-PMR Convergence Solution comprises cutting-edge multi-mode advanced radio terminals, narrowband-broadband infrastructure, and …

Alphabet’s Access Group, Nokia among those citing 3.5 GHz progress to FCCFierceWireless via Google Alerts May 18 07:10 … 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) continues to build as leaders in the ecosystem, including Alphabet’s Access Group and Nokia, …

AMIA Tells FCC Broadband Access Among Social Determinants of HealthHealthcare Informatics May 25 09:18 Nation’s Informatics Experts Encouraged by FCC Focus on Broadband-Enabled Health Solutions, Urges Collaboration in Promoting National Health Infrastructure

Huawei, Toshiba to work on NB-IoT for ‘smart factory’TA News RSS May 24 21:15 Huawei has signed a MoU with Toshiba to collaborate on the integration of NB-IoT (Narrowband Internet of Things) for the development of “smart factory” solutions. The cooperation between Huawei and Toshiba will accelerate the commercial availability of NB-IoT in a diverse range of vertical industries, supporting a range of applications and deployment scenarios as operators are looking ahead towards new business opportunities in vertical industries. Both companies will work together to develop en

Qualcomm, China Mobile Research Institute team up on Mobike trialFierceWireless via Google Alerts May 24 15:55 The MDM9206 LTE modem is designed to support global Category M1 and NB1/GSM multimode. Qualcomm said the narrowband LTE technologies …

Cities Clamor for More Clout at FCCLight Reading May 24 06:30 Who governs broadband in the smart city?

Frontier Communications Extends Broadband Network in West VirginiaBusiness Wire May 23 16:10 CHARLESTON, W. Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Frontier Communications (NASDAQ:FTR) is making enhanced broadband service available to previously unserved residents throughout West Virginia, Elena Kilpatrick, Frontier Senior Vice President of Operations announced today. Connected communities in 35 counties now may access increased speeds and services from Frontier. Over the past 18 months, Frontier has successfully leveraged the FCC’s Connect America Fund (CAF) program to bring new broadband opportunities

States are sizing up FirstNet alternativesFedScoop via Google Alerts May 23 15:15 … Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T will present to each state a draft plan of the first nationwide wireless data network for public safety.

Cable Companies Refuse To Put Their Breathless Love Of Net Neutrality Down In WritingTechdirt Corporate Intelligence May 23 15:13 Apparently, giant broadband providers don’t much want to put their sudden, mysterious love of net neutrality into writing. Last week, the FCC voted to begin killing net neutrality , opening the door to a 90-day comment period ahead of a broader rule-killing vote later this year. In the wake of the move, the same large ISPs that have spent a decade trying to kill meaningful regulatory oversight comically went out of their way to (falsely)…

MediaTek ready to power 4G devices on 700 MHz bandETTelecom.com via Google Alerts May 22 15:25 … to tune LTE smartphones based on the 700 MHz band radiowaves for India which would accelerate fourth-generation (4G) adoption in the country.

AT&T: Jury is still out on NB-IoTvia Google Alerts May 22 06:58 AT&T will continue to evaluate Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) technology for its Internet of Things (IoT) strategy, but so far, it’s not seeing any big reason to …

FCC Vote Kicks Off a Battle Over Regulation of the InternetNewsFactor Network via Google Alerts May 20 09:40 A federal agency voted to kick off the repeal of “net neutrality” rules designed to keep broadband providers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from …

Huawei Releases eLTE SafeCity Solution for Public SafetyLight Reading via Google Alerts May 19 11:45 Traditional narrowband communication networks with basic voice service …

China Telecom extends narrow band IoT network across home marketDeveloping Telecoms via Google Alerts May 19 11:45 China Telecom has launched what it describes as the the world’s most extensive new-generation commercial narrow-band IoT (NB-IoT) network.

Trump taps House committee counsel for NTIA chiefFederal Computer Week May 19 09:12 David Redl, the chief counsel on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is President Trump’s nominee to head the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

FCC Commissioner Wants To Ban States From Protecting Consumer Broadband PrivacyTechdirt Corporate Intelligence May 18 15:07 Despite a last-ditch effort by the EFF and other consumer and privacy groups, the GOP voted back in March to kill consumer broadband privacy protections . As we noted several times , the protections weren’t particularly onerous — simply requiring that ISPs are transparent about what data they’re collecting, who they’re selling it to, and that they provide working opt-out tools. But because many of these large ISPs are busy pushing into the media sector (AT&T’s acquisition…

AT&T’s 911 outage ‘result of mistakes made by AT&T,’ FCC’s Pai saysFierceWireless via Google Alerts May 18 13:40 FCC Chairman Ajit Pai directed the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to investigate the 911 outage on AT&T’s network in March.

Trump Administration Seeks Boost in Budget for DHS Cyber Programs

May 23, 2017–The Trump administration is requesting an increase of about $500 million in fiscal year 2018 for the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity programs compared with FY 2017 for a total of $1.5 billion, according to budget documents released today.The request includes $971.3 million “to improve security of the U.S. cyber infrastructure in collaboration with public, private, and international partners,” DHS said.

The department is requesting an increase of $49.2 million for the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, a 24-hour watch center that includes participants from other federal agencies and the private sector. Continue reading

S&T Facebook Tech Talk: Stopping Signal Interference

Communications are a lifeline for first responders – they depend on devices and systems that are reliable and resilient to interference in order to save lives and protect our communities. Spectrum interference – anything that interferes with radio, GPS or cellular signals—affects GPS, cell phones and radios, and can hinder a responder from acting quickly or communicating effectively with other members of the public safety community.

Working closely with first responders from across the country, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) held the 2016 First Responder Electronic Jamming Exercise at White Sands Missile Range last July, and is planning the 2017 exercise – nicknamed JamX 17 – at Idaho National Labs this summer.

While the 2016 exercise helped first responders better understand how spectrum interference may impact their communication devices and mission response, JamX 17 will dive deeper to assess new technologies and tactics that can help responders identify, locate and mitigate the impact of interference. Our goal is to help responders across the county build more resilient communication networks and prepare them to recognize, respond to, report and resolve interference incidents when they occur.

Join us for our live Facebook TechTalk, on Thursday, May 25 at 1:30 p.m. EST. JamX 17 Exercise Director Sridhar Kowdley, will answer questions about DHS S&T’s work on spectrum resiliency and its impact on first responders, their mission space and their standard operating procedures.

FCC Fines AFX $90,000 to Resolve Unauthorized Marketing Investigation on LED Light Fixtures

FCC Fines AFX $90,000 to Resolve Unauthorized Marketing Investigation on LED Light Fixtures. AFX’s under-cabinet LED light fixtures were reportedly causing interference to AM/FM radio transmissions. Last year, the Bureau’s Spectrum Enforcement Division issued a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) to AFX, directing it to submit a sworn written response to a series of questions relating to AFX’s marketing of its LED lighting fixtures. Prior to AFX’s receipt of the LOI, the LED light fixtures were not tested and authorized under the Commission’s equipment authorization rules prior to marketing. AFX continued to market the light fixtures during an approximately 5-month period after receipt of the LOI. AFX subsequently resolved all matters relating to its apparent noncompliance with the Commission’s equipment marketing rules.

In 2014, NPSTC issued a questionnaire and subsequent report in 2015 on Radio Interference from Energy Efficient Lighting.  NPSTC had been approached by several individuals and organizations, who reported interference to public safety radio networks from energy efficient lighting. Las Vegas, Nevada, experienced extreme interference in the UHF band from a business using excited plasma lights. An incident management team operating at a fire in northern California had set up and tested all of its communications equipment, but during the evening operational period, all communications failed. The source was determined to be a string of overhead fluorescent lights.

NPSTC also wrote a letter to the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology to recommend the Commission open a proceeding to address the need for updates to its rules to help prevent interference from the outset as the deployment of energy efficient lighting is expected to increase over time.

FCC Release CAC Robocall Proposal

May 22, 2017–The FCC today released a proposal adopted on May 19 by its Consumer Advisory Committee recommending a number of steps the agency should take to combat robocalls (TR Daily, May 19).

The CAC recommended the following 11 FCC actions: (1) initiating and prosecuting “enforcement actions against known robocallers who are violating the law”; (2) ensuring “a system of effective enforcement, with appropriately escalating penalties against repeat violators”; (3) enhancing “its current online Unwanted Calls Consumer Guide to consolidate best practices and tips currently shared by other government agencies, and to reflect new guidance and resources emerging from industry’s work on this issue”; (4) ensuring “that the FCC’s educational resources and complaint forms are available in accessible formats, and languages other than English where appropriate”; (5) developing “educational materials specific to the impact of robocalls on consumers with disabilities”; (6) simplifying “the consumer complaint filing process for unwanted calls”; (7) creating “a separate intake portal for unwanted-call complaints”; (8) incorporating “educational information into the response sent by the FCC to consumers who submit an unwanted-call complaint”; (9) developing “an app that can be used by consumers with mobile devices to quickly file complaints for unwanted calls received on their device”; (10) building “upon the existing Memorandum of Understanding with the FTC by exploring the value and feasibility of creating a co-hosted single education and complaint portal for the issue”; and (11) exploring “making complaint data available to third parties on a near-real time basis in order to maximize its usefulness for companies whose robocall analytics engines use the data to identify telephone numbers that may be candidates for blocking or providing alerts to consumers.”- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

FirstNet and Public Safety Broadband Data Implications for Rural EMS Organizations Published

This Week is National Emergency Medical Services WeekThis year’s theme is “EMS STRONG:  Always in Service.” National Emergency Medical Services Week brings together local communities and medical personnel to publicize safety and honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine’s “front line.” The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) was instrumental in establishing EMS Week when President Gerald Ford declared November 3-10, 1974, as the first National Emergency Medical Services Week. This annual observance continued for 4 more years and was then reinstituted by ACEP in 1982. May 21 to 27 is National Emergency Medical Services Week 2017.

FirstNet and Public Safety Broadband Data Implications for Rural EMS Organizations Published. NPSTC‘s EMS Communications Working Group includes representatives of NPSTC and National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO). This white paper highlights unique issues facing rural EMS agencies and examines how public safety broadband communications may be used to support and enhance EMS service delivery.

Rural EMS providers have unique challenges that are vastly different from their urban and suburban sister agencies. These challenges exist in three areas:  time, resources, and incident types. Access to high-speed public safety broadband services will provide solutions to mitigate some of these issues while enhancing EMS operations and patient care. As a result, it is likely that rural EMS providers will enjoy a greater benefit from public safety broadband wireless communications systems. For many, what was once perceived as a futuristic technology, such as in-the-field ultrasound examination of a trauma patient or live video consultation with a pediatrician, is now becoming a reality.

In 2015, NPSTC initiated a questionnaire, asking how EMS and hospitals will use telemedicine, and replies were received from more than 670 agencies. Published in 2016, the EMS Telemedicine Report: Prehospital Use of Video Technologies is a comprehensive report on the use of video technology by EMS agencies, hospitals, and trauma centers. In 2013, the NPSTC Broadband EMS Working Group created the EMS Broadband Application List for FirstNet PSAC. This document highlighted 37 software applications designed to support EMS and was provided to FirstNet to help illustrate the critical role that applications will play. The group is currently working on updates to that report.

FCC Seeks Comment on Accelerating Broadband Health Technologies Availability. The FCC recently released a Public Notice (PN), seeking comment on a wide range of issues involving access to broadband and its impact on healthcare solutions and technologies, especially in rural and other underserved areas of the country. The FCC expects to use this information to identify actions that the Commission can take to promote this important goal. Portions of the PN speak to the need for rural areas to have access to broadband, and other sections seek information on how hospitals are using broadband. Comments are due May 24, and Reply Comments are due on June 8.

Join the Broadband Emerging Technologies Working Group on Wednesday, May 24, at 12:00 p.m. EDT. The group will host guest speaker, Laurie Flaherty, National 9-1-1 Coordinator, who will discuss new NG9-1-1 Legislation, an NG9-1-1 Grant Program Update, a Cost Study Report Update, and Integration with FirstNet and Federal 9-1-1 Centers. Information on the conference line and access codes are available on the NPSTC Public Safety Calendar.

SAFECOM and NCSWIC Encourage Public Safety to Adopt Trustmark Framework. SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) Executive Committees unanimously approved a position paper encouraging public safety agencies to adopt and leverage the Trustmark Framework. In 2016, SAFECOM and NCSWIC established the Identity, Credential, and Access Management (ICAM) Working Group to help address ICAM-related issues that impact emergency communications and information sharing. The ICAM Working Group quickly recognized that interoperability and scalability between ICAM solutions are critical for the future of secure information sharing within the public safety community. Read more on NPSTC’s blog, and visit the SAFECOM website to learn more about the ICAM Working Group, ICAM, and the Trustmark Framework.

Please join NPSTC for any of these Committee and Working Group meetings that interest you. NPSTC is holding the following meetings this week, which are open to anyone who is interested in public safety communications. The full schedule is available on the NPSTC Public Safety Calendar, including conference lines and access codes.

Tuesday, May 23

2:00 p.m. EDT, Interoperability Committee

Wednesday, May 24

12:00 p.m. EDT, Broadband Emerging Technologies Working Group

Thursday, May 25

3:00 p.m. EDT, Radio Interoperability Best Practices Small Writing Group

Pai Circulates NPRM Proposing to Create EAS Blue Alert Option

May 19, 2017–FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced today the circulation of a draft notice of proposed rulemaking for consideration at the agency’s June 22 meeting proposing to create a new alert for the Emergency Alert System to help disseminate information when law enforcement officers have been killed or seriously injured, are in imminent danger, or are missing. The Blue Alert “would be used by authorities in states across the country to notify the public through television and radio of threats to law enforcement and to help apprehend dangerous suspects,” the FCC said in a news release.

The NPRM was circulated yesterday. It will be released publicly on June 1, the day other draft items that are “white-copied” for the June 22 meeting are released, according to an FCC spokesman. “As we have learned from the very successful AMBER Alert initiative for recovering missing children, an informed public can play a vital role in assisting law enforcement,” Chairman Pai said in a statement.  “By expanding the Emergency Alert System to better support Blue Alerts, we could build on that success – and help protect those in law enforcement who risk their lives each day to protect us.” Continue reading