FCC Urges Providers to Follow Best Practices

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau released a public notice today to detail “lessons learned from major network outages” and remind providers “to review industry best practices to ensure network reliability.”

“Based on its recent analysis of several major network outages that affected subscribers, including those calling 911 for emergency assistance, Bureau staff determined that the outages could likely have been prevented or mitigated if the provider had followed certain network reliability best practices,” the public notice said. “Therefore, the Bureau encourages communications service providers to implement the following industry best practices, as previously recommended by the Commission’s Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council: 1. Minimize Impact of Maintenance Windows. Network operators and service providers should be aware of the dynamic nature of peak traffic periods and should consider scheduling potentially service-affecting procedures (e.g., maintenance, high-risk procedures, growth activities) to minimize the impact on end-user services. 2. Monitor 911 Network Components. Network operators, service providers, and public safety entities should actively monitor and manage the 911 network components using network management controls, where available, to quickly restore 911 service and provide priority repair during network failure events. When multiple interconnecting providers and vendors are involved, they will need to cooperate to provide end-to-end analysis of complex call-handling problems. 3. Ensure Real-World Testing Conditions. Service providers and network operators should consider validating upgrades, new procedures and commands in a lab or other test environment that simulates the target network and load prior to the first application in the field.” Continue reading

Ligado Asks Officials to Disregard GPS Testing Report

Ligado Networks LLC has asked the FCC and the Defense and Transportation departments to reject a recent report by the Space-Based Positioning Navigation & Timing National Systems Engineering Forum (NPEF) assessing whether there are gaps in testing of adjacent-band interference to the Global Positioning System L1 band (TR Daily, March 20).

The NPEF was tasked with doing the assessment by the National Executive Committee for Space-Based PNT, an intergovernmental agency body. The analysis evaluated tests done by an FCC-mandated technical working group, the NPEF, the Department of Transportation, Roberson and Associates LLC for Ligado, and the National Advanced Spectrum and Communications Test Network (NASCTN).

The NPEF report faulted the Roberson and NASCTN tests for not using a 1 dB increase in the noise floor as the threshold for assessing harmful interference to GPS receivers, as the other tests did. It said that the other tests “included sufficient scope and methodology in compliance with the PNTAB’s [Space-Based PNT Advisory Board] set of recommendations, namely the DOT ABC, NPEF, and FCC TWG tests.”

But in a letter Monday to Patrick M. Shanahan and Jeffrey A. Rosen, the deputy secretaries of the Defense and Transportation departments who chair the National PNT Committee, Ligado President and Chief Executive Officer Doug Smith said there were “fundamental flaws” in the NPEF report.

He said that the report failed to mention that major GPS equipment manufacturers have signed agreements with Ligado stating they will not oppose the company’s planned LTE network deployment as long as certain technical parameters are met.

Mr. Smith also said that the NPEF’s report “is flawed because it is based on criteria that simply have no basis in spectrum regulation.” In particular, he complained that it “concludes that the only testing that matters is the testing for a change of 1 dB in the noise floor caused by operations in adjacent bands, and it gives no value to almost 1,500 hours of testing done by” the NASCTN.

Mr. Smith added, “The metric of a 1 dB change in the noise floor is appropriately used by regulators to govern users who share a band, sometimes referred to as a ‘co-channel interference.’ While Ligado’s operations and GPS are near each other (but not exactly ‘adjacent’ given the 23-megahertz guard band), the truth is that under all spectrum regulations GPS and Ligado do not share a band. That is a fact that some GPS advocates seem unwilling to accept.”

GPS equipment makers Garmin International, Inc., Deere & Co., Trimble Navigation Ltd., TopCon Positioning Systems, Inc., and NovAtel, Inc., have reached agreements with Ligado under which they will not oppose Ligado’s network, but those agreements don’t cover use of the 1 dB threshold, which most of the companies support.

Mr. Smith’s letter was attached to an ex parte Ligado filing with the FCC yesterday in IB docket 11-109 that also criticized the NPEF report.

“We encourage the Commission, as the expert spectrum agency in consultation with NTIA, to consider the full record before it, which shows that Ligado can both protect GPS devices and enable the use of prime mid-band spectrum to enhance American competitiveness and security, invest in American infrastructure, and create thousands of new jobs,” Ligado said.- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily



FCC: 2017 EAS Test ‘Largely Was a Success’

The third nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) last September “largely was a success,” but some stakeholders reported experiencing problems, according to a report released by the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau today. The report cited a number of metrics from the Sept. 27 test to highlight what the bureau said was its overall success. Continue reading

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, April 12, 2018

Batteries in the Field:  When we add smartphones and tablets to the mix of public safety communications devices we are adding yet another set of devices that run on batteries that need to be recharged. While there are a number of companies working on charging these devices from the radio energy that is transmitted from a cell site, which could make recharging a non-issue, that appears, once again, to be well into the future. In the meantime, how are these devices to be charged along with the Land Mobile Radio (LMR) handheld radios?

Comparing LMR to LTE Devices:  LMR devices are generally designed for battery life of over a shift, which is ten hours or so. But this is with a duty cycle that is generally light. The norm is 80-percent standby (lowest power requirement) to 10-percent receive (mid-power requirement) and 10-percent transmit (highest power usage). The batteries for LMR radios are removable and replaceable and can be run through a “fast charge” system to replenish them in short order. There are also what are known as “clam-shell” battery cases that are designed to be used with disposable batteries, usually a number of AA cells. During major wildland fires when the forest services issue their cache of radios, they are mostly powered by throw-away cells. The batteries used in LMR radios are usually on the bottom of the radio, are easy to take off, and have a lot more battery capacity than batteries that are not removable.

There are a number of different scenarios for LMR radio distribution. In police departments, most LMR handhelds are staged in gang chargers and as patrol officers exit the station for a shift they will grab a radio and sometimes a spare battery for use on their shift and then replace the units in the charger at the end of their shift. In the fire service, since there are normally four assigned to an engine, radios are sometimes in chargers near one of the engine’s rear doors and are picked up as needed when arriving on a scene. Most EMS personnel have radios issued to them at the start of each shift. Of course, there are many variations of this including some departments where the LMR handheld is the only radio each person carries. Read the Entire Post Here Continue reading

NTIA, University of Colorado Sign Test Bed Agreement

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced today that it has signed a five-year cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the University of Colorado at Boulder for the development of a wireless test bed. “NTIA’s Boulder-based Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) will work with the university to install spectrum monitoring sensors throughout the CU Boulder campus, with data to be available to both parties for spectrum management research,” according to a new release. “The project will enable measurement of wireless spectrum and system occupancy and spectrum utilization, testing and evaluation of spectrum sharing scenarios, and validation of radio wave propagation models. It also will help to develop early interference detection, interference mitigation, and spectrum forensics techniques.” Continue reading

FCC Order Requires Electronic Filing of State EAS Plans

The FCC released a report and order today mandating the electronic filing of state Emergency Alert System (EAS) plans, a step that the agency says will reduce burdens on state officials while enabling federal and other stakeholders to better access and use the data. In the order in PS docket 15-94, the FCC established the Alert Reporting System (ARS). It said the ARS “will create a comprehensive online filing system for EAS by combining the existing EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS) with a new, streamlined electronic system for the filing of State EAS Plans. ARS will replace paper-based filing requirements, minimize the burdens on State Emergency Communications Committees (SECCs), and allow the FCC, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other authorized entities to better access and use up-to-date information about the EAS, thus increasing its value as a tool to protect life and property for all Americans.”

The adequacy of state EAS plans has been discussed in the wake of a false ballistic missile alert in Hawaii in January (TR Daily, Jan. 16).

For example, at a Senate field hearing in Hawaii last week, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the FCC should make sure that state EAS plans that are filed with the Commission are up to date (TR Daily, April 5). “The Hawaii plan was over a decade old,” she said. Continue reading

FCC Releases Final Report on False Hawaii Missile Alert

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau today released its final report on a false ballistic missile alert in Hawaii in January (TR Daily, Jan. 16), concluding “that a combination of human error and inadequate safeguards” were contributors to the error and making about a dozen recommendations to prevent future occurrences anywhere in the U.S.

The false alert was sent via the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and by wireless emergency alert (WEA) by a shift warning officer at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) who thought the alert was real instead of only a test. It took the agency 38 minutes to send a corrected alert, although authorities used social media and the news media to get the word out earlier that the alert was not real.

The Public Safety Bureau presented a preliminary report to Commissioners on the incident on Jan. 30 (TR Daily, Jan. 30), and at a Senate field hearing in Hawaii last week, an official outlined the conclusions and recommendations in the report released today (TR Daily, April 5).

“As set forth in greater detail below, the Bureau finds that a combination of human error and inadequate safeguards contributed to the transmission of the January 13 false alert,” according to the 28-page final report. “Neither the false alert nor the 38-minute delay to correct the false alert would have occurred had Hawaii implemented reasonable safeguards and protocols before January 13, 2018, to minimize the risk that HI-EMA would issue a false alert, and to ensure that HI-EMA would be able to issue a rapid correction of any false alert that was delivered to the public.”

The report also said that “it took HI-EMA until 8:20 a.m. (HST), 13 minutes after the initial alert, to provide the public with the first authoritative announcement over social media that this was a false alarm, and 38 minutes to issue a correction using EAS and WEA.” Continue reading