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

FEMA Reauthorization Bill Introduced

May 19, 2017–Republicans and Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today introduced the FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2017 (HR 2548), which reauthorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency through 2020. It is the first time that the agency has been reauthorized. The bill was introduced by economic development, public buildings, and emergency management subcommittee Chairman Lou Barletta (R., Pa.) and ranking member Hank Johnson (D., Ga.), and full committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R., Pa.) and ranking member Peter DeFazio (D., Ore.).

Courtesy TRDaily

IAFC Stresses Benefits of States Allowing AT&T to Build FirstNet RANs

May 17, 2017–The International Association of Fire Chiefs today emphasized what it said are the benefits of states permitting AT&T, Inc., the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) network partner, build their radio access networks (RANs). “If a governor decides to opt-out and build its own RAN, this will delay the process of building out the RAN in the state. States will assume all technical, operational, political, and financial risks and responsibilities related to building their own RAN for the next 25 years,” said a blog posting by Gary McCarraher, chairman of the IAFC’s Communications Committee and chief of the Franklin, Mass., Fire Department. “IAFC members should be contacting their FirstNet State Points of Contact (SPOC) to get up-to-date information about their specific state plans and provide input as their governors make their decision.”

“Make sure the governor understands that if he/she allows FirstNet to buildout the RAN, one of the key benefits of the partnership will be the availability of priority services immediately after a governor makes the decision to stay in the network. This priority access will be made available over FirstNet’s existing partner AT&T’s nationwide network and on all its Long-Term Evolution (LTE) bands. This is only available to opt-in states,” Mr. McCarraher said in the blog posting. “Inform the governor that if he/she is considering building their own RAN believing they can make a profit for the state building and operating its own RAN, this is not the case. FirstNet has made it clear that under its interpretation of the statute that any profit made in a state may not be kept in the state but must be shared with the nationwide broadband network. As the fire service leaders in your respective states, you need to have your voices heard and voice your views to the governors in your states as they make the decision to opt-in or opt-out. Once the governor makes the decision, stay involved in the process.” —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC to Finalize FirstNet Order Before State Plans Ready

May 17, 2017–The FCC plans to finalize its rules for conducting interoperability reviews of any alternative plans from states “well ahead” of when the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) delivers state plans, David Furth, deputy chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, reiterated today.

FirstNet plans to deliver state plans to governors by the end of September. “We’re very conscious of that timeline in terms of putting our rules in place, consistent with that timeline and well ahead of when FirstNet delivers those final plans to the states,” Mr. Furth said during a session this afternoon at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International’s Public Safety Broadband Summit.

Under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which established FirstNet, governors have 90 days after receiving the FirstNet state plan to notify the government that they want to opt out of having FirstNet’s network partner, AT&T, Inc., build a radio access network in their states.

Within 180 days after that, states must complete a request for proposals (RFP) and submit an alternative plan for approval by the FCC, which is charged with reviewing whether plans would comply with minimum technical interoperability requirements. If the FCC approves a state plan, the state has to apply to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration for authority to secure a spectrum capacity lease agreement with FirstNet. States seeking to build their own RANs may also apply to NTIA for grant funds to help cover those costs. Continue reading

Redl Draws Praise as Nominee to Head NTIA

May 17, 2017–FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, House lawmakers, and telecom industry entities praised the White House’s announcement last night that President Trump intends to nominate David Redl, chief Republican counsel for the House communications and technology subcommittee, to head the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. “David has been with the committee since 2011 and in that time he has been a valuable member of our team. David worked diligently to improve federal and commercial use of spectrum to meet the needs of ever-growing consumer demand for broadband services,” said Reps. Greg Walden (R., Ore.), Fred Upton (R., Mich.), and Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.), the respective current and former chairmen of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and chairman of the communications subcommittee. “David’s experience with the committee and his vast knowledge of communications law and policy makes him well suited to head the agency that will be at the forefront of promoting safe, secure communications networks, broadband deployment, and the efficient use of federally held spectrum.”

“David Redl is a superb choice to lead NTIA.  His extensive experience as Chief Counsel for Communications and Technology at the U.S. House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee makes him uniquely qualified to lead the agency charged with managing the spectrum held by the U.S. government,” Mr. Pai said today. “He is also a skillful expert in communications issues central to NTIA’s mission of ensuring that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.  The FCC has long had a close partnership with NTIA, and I personally look forward to continuing that relationship with that agency under David’s leadership.” Continue reading

March 8, 2017, AT&T VoLTE 911 Outage Report and Recommendations

On March 8, 2017, nearly all AT&T Mobility (AT&T) Voice over LTE customers across the nation lost 911 service for 5 hours. This was one of the largest 911 outages ever reported in the Network Outage Reporting System (NORS), as measured by the number of unique users affected.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai immediately directed the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to investigate the causes, effects, and implications of the outage. In response, the Bureau reviewed and analyzed outage reports filed in NORS, as well as sought and reviewed public comments and related documents, and held meetings with relevant stakeholders, including service providers and public safety entities. The Bureau also examined the record to identify ways to prevent future occurrences of such an outage. This report presents the Bureau’s findings.

The outage was caused by an error that likely could have been avoided had AT&T implemented additional checks (e.g., followed certain network reliability best practices) with respect to their critical 911 network assets. Approximately 12,600 unique users attempted to call 911, but were unable to reach emergency services through the traditional 911 network.

Among the lessons learned from the March 8 outage is that when 911 service fails for any reason, Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) play a critical role in advising their jurisdictions of alternative ways to reach help. While AT&T and their subcontractors, Comtech and West, made efforts to notify thousands of PSAPs, the notifications were often unclear or missing important information, and generally took a few hours to occur.

This outage also offers an illuminating case study that illustrates actions that stakeholders can take to promote network reliability and continued access to 911 service. Read the report here: AT&T VoLTE 911 Outage Report and Recommendations.

Announcing eNIFOG – Take the NIFOG Wherever You Go

The National Interoperable Field Operations Guide (NIFOG) is now available as the eNIFOG mobile app on Apple® iOS™ and will be available soon for Google® Android™ devices. The NIFOG is a technical reference for emergency communications planning and for technicians responsible for radios that will be used in disaster response. It includes rules and regulations for use of nationwide and other interoperability channels, tables of frequencies and standard channel names, and other reference material.

Easy to Use.  The eNIFOG app gives users easy access to NIFOG information, offering a content index with shortcuts to reference sections, tables, figures, or images. Navigation links allow users to jump directly to regional quick references as well as bookmark Favorites to develop their own personalized access to critical information for their territory. eNIFOG can be downloaded and then taken to the field as an offline reference, to be used without the need of a cellular or data connection.

 Get the App. On your mobile device, search for “eNIFOG” on Apple’s App Store (iPhone or iPad) or Google Play (Android)  to download the apps.

 Questions? E-mail John Peterson at john.peterson@hq.dhs.gov to get more information, request help, or offer feedback.