FirstNet Spectrum Lease Agreements Draw Criticism from Vermont Advocate

Spectrum manager lease agreements (SMLAs) drafted by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) for states that seek to opt out and build their own radio access networks (RANs) drew criticism today from a government accountability advocate who lives in Vermont. In a written commentary, Stephen Whitaker called a draft SMLA reported on in the trade press “a simply heavy-handed scare tactic.”

“There is absolutely no legal authority for the proposed grossly exaggerated Termination Fees, (up to $173M for Vermont) especially when it is documented that these were calculated to pay for an entire ‘Greenfield Network’ build, presumably built new, over top of existing LTE networks owned by Verizon, AT&T and VTel in Vermont for example,” Mr. Whitaker added. “A wasteful concept and a red herring.”

A summary of an SMLA prepared by FirstNet for Vermont said that if the SMLA were terminated “for cause” before the full term, the state would have “to pay to the Government the entire cost of reconstituting a Band 14 RAN in the State as determined by FirstNet ….”

The maximum termination payment would be $173 million if the agreement were terminated within 900 days of Vermont’s governor getting its state plan from FirstNet. Continue reading

71% of Cell Sites Down in Puerto Rico

About 71% of the cell sites were down in Puerto Rico today because of Hurricane Maria, the FCC reported, although about 61% of the population was still reported covered by wireless carriers due to roaming agreements. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, 55.4% of cell sites were down, including about 89% of the sites in St. John, but about 88% of the population was covered by wireless carriers. As for cable and wireline systems, at least two switches were out in Puerto Rico due to SS7 or toll isolation. Meanwhile, four TV stations were confirmed operational in Puerto Rico and two were suspected of being out of service. The FCC said that 54 stations have been issued special temporary authority (STA) to be off the air. In the Virgin Islands, eight such stations have been issued STAs. Forty-four AM radio stations were confirmed operational and 29 were confirmed down in Puerto Rico, while 36 FM stations were confirmed operational and 22 were confirmed out of service there.

Two FM radio stations were confirmed operational in the Virgin Islands and two were suspected of being out of service, while two AM radio stations were confirmed operational and two were suspected of being down there. “When broadcast stations are listed as ‘suspected to be out of service’, the statement is based on field scanning of relevant bands,” the FCC explained in its daily outages report. “Stations listed may be operating on reduced power or on a reduced schedule.”

Courtesy TRDaily

Senators Express Concerns about Limits of Wireless Emergency Alerts

Sens. Kamala D. Harris (D., Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) expressed concern today in the wake of the California wildfires about the limits of wireless emergency alerts (WEAs) and pressed the FCC to require geo-targeting of alerts. “Recent news reports have indicated that emergency services in Northern California were not able to transmit lifesaving WEA messages, because of significant technical deficiencies in the WEA system,” the senators said in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “Specifically, because the WEA system does not enable precise geotargeting — a feature that has been standard in mobile applications for years — emergency services cannot send an evacuation message without reaching a large number of unaffected residents. These emergency services are caught in a bind between notifying individuals in imminent danger and risking mass panic. As a result, these services are compelled to rely on emergency messaging systems with far less reach and far less capacity.”

The letter added, “In September 2016, the FCC proposed new rules that would require wireless carriers to enable precise geotargeting of WEA warnings. We are heartened that you and your colleagues voted in favor of that proposal. You even wrote separately in a concurring opinion, emphasizing the importance of geotargeted alerts. We are disappointed, though, that under your leadership the FCC has not executed on its proposal with a final rule. We are also concerned that the FCC has granted a temporary waiver of the existing, imprecise geotargeting requirements for certain carriers.” Continue reading

800 MHz Dispute Referred to Hearing

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.

Courtesy TRDaily

 

75% of Cell Sites in Puerto Rico Down

About 75% of the cell sites were down in Puerto Rico today because of Hurricane Maria, the FCC reported, although about 61% of the population was covered by wireless carriers due to roaming agreements. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, 55.4% of cell sites were down, including about 89% of the sites in St. John, but about 88% of the population was covered by wireless carriers. As for cable and wireline systems, at least six switches were out in Puerto Rico due to SS7 or toll isolation. Meanwhile, five TV stations were confirmed operational in Puerto Rico and nine were confirmed out of service. Forty-four AM radio stations were confirmed operational and 29 were confirmed down in Puerto Rico, while 36 FM stations were confirmed operational and 22 were confirmed out of service there. Two FM radio stations were confirmed operational in the Virgin Islands and two were confirmed out of service, while two AM radio stations were confirmed operational and two were confirmed down.

Courtesy TRDaily

 

FCC Plans to Consider Number Portability, 3.5 GHz Band Items at Oct 24 Meeting

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

Group Asks LMCC to Withdraw 800 MHz Band Petition

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