APCO Executive Committee

LAS VEGAS — The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International has elected its new executive committee. Holly Wayt will be president, Tracey Hilburn will be first vice president, and Margie Moulin will be second vice president. Outgoing President Martha Carter will also serve on the executive committee, as does APCO Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Derek Poarch. APCO conducted the election at its annual show here.

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC Announces LED Consent Decrees

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau released an order today in file no. EB-SED-17-00024695 implementing a consent decree with Lighthouse Technologies Ltd. resolving a probe into whether it marketed LED signs without required equipment authorizations.

The company admitted the behavior and will pay a $115,000 fine. Separately, the bureau released an order in file no EB-SED-17-00024689 on an LED consent decree with Absen, Inc., that calls for the company to admit its behavior and pay a $55,000 fine for marketing LED signs “without the required equipment authorization, labeling, and user manual disclosures, and by failing to produce certain required test records.”

Courtesy TRDaily


NTIA Eyes Year-End for Rest of SLIGP 2.0 Grant Funds

LAS VEGAS — Mike Dame, director of the State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP) at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said the second tranche of $20.6 million in SLIGP 2.0 grants is expected to be distributed in the November/December timeframe if NTIA can commit the funds in early October. Mr. Dame discussed the grants during a session yesterday afternoon at the APCO 2018 show here. In May, NTIA announced that it had completed awarding the first tranche of funds (TR Daily, May 2).

The total to be awarded in 2.0 is $33.2 million, which was funding that was not used when SLIGP grants were first awarded in 2013 and 2014. The grants are designed to help states prepare for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). Meanwhile, Carolyn Dunn, federal program officer in NTIA’s Office of Public Safety Communications, noted that an NG-911 deployment cost study is still in the federal government review process.

Courtesy TRDaily

Public Safety Spectrum, Technological Change Discussed

LAS VEGAS — A session at the APCO 2018 show here yesterday afternoon on FCC developments related to public safety evolved into a discussion of public safety spectrum and technological developments that may enable commercial operators to share frequencies with agencies.

During the discussion, Jeff Cohen, APCO’s chief counsel and director-government relations, said that until relatively recently, public safety and commercial spectrum were separate and were treated differently given public safety’s role in protecting Americans. Now, there is more interest in reallocating public safety frequencies for commercial use or in enabling sharing, he noted.

Public safety spectrum has been targeted for sharing or reallocation in the 4.9 gigahertz and 6 GHz bands and in the T-band (470-512 megahertz).

“Public safety is special,” said David Furth, deputy chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. But he added that “spectrum policy … needs to allow technology to drive change.”

Spectrum that once was not seen as useful is now being eyed for use thanks to technological developments, “and I think public safety can benefit from that,” Mr. Furth said.

“I think we need to be careful about siloing public safety spectrum policy too much,” he added. “At the same time, we need to make sure that if we’re going to rely on … commercial spectrum users to support public safety, that it be done in a way that serves public safety interests.”

In the 4.9 GHz band, where the FCC is mulling whether to allow commercial operators to share the spectrum or to reallocate the channels to operators. But Mr. Furth said that similar issues will arise “more broadly. Everybody that uses spectrum, I think, has an obligation to use it efficiently. It is a scarce resource.”

An audience member, David Buchanan, a public safety veteran who has worked on spectrum management issues with the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council, asked, “What are the limits?”

“At some point, physics has got to drive this whole thing. You can’t just keep cramming people in,” said Mr. Buchanan, who helped organize NPSTC’s comments in the FCC’s 4.9 GHz band proceeding.

“The answer to the question of what is technically feasible and what is technically feasible at an affordable cost has changed,” Mr. Furth replied. “So what we don’t want to do is come up with an answer that sort of stops that progress in its … tracks.”

He added that while “the laws of physics are the laws of physics, and you can’t break them,” parties should not assume that a new spectrum arrangement is not technically feasible.

“It’s a balance. There are tradeoffs when you’re talking about interference, when you’re talking about sharing spectrum. There are always tradeoffs,” Mr. Furth added. “And we have to candidly and realistically assess what they are. … I think we’ve been pretty successful so far.” Continue reading

FirstNet Users Describe Benefits of Network

LAS VEGAS — Subscribers to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) network being built by AT&T, Inc., stressed the benefits of the system during a session this afternoon at the APCO 2018 show here.

Since May, FirstNet has been used for events such as active shooters, floods, search and recovery missions, tornadoes, wildfires, and a huge boat race, said Ray Lehr, a FirstNet consultant and former public safety official for the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland.

Todd Early, director of the Public Safety Communications Service in the Texas Department of Public Safety, said FirstNet resources have been deployed for five events such as wildfires and mass shootings at a school and church. The network allows personnel in his department to be “proactive” rather than “reactive,” he said, enabling it to assess what coverage is available before first responders even arrive.

“It’s sped up what’s needed in those areas quite tremendously,” he said. He emphasized the benefit of priority service for first responders. He said his agency has 12,000 to 13,000 FirstNet devices. Continue reading

FirstNet Shifts to Engaging Individual Agencies

LAS VEGAS — The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) plans to continue to engage public safety stakeholders as AT&T, Inc., works on building out the nationwide public safety broadband network, but FirstNet is setting its sights on consulting directly with individual agencies, David Buchanan, FirstNet’s executive director-public safety advocacy, said during a session this morning at the APCO 2018 show here.

He noted that the pivot represents a large task given the 60,000 public safety agencies in the U.S.

FirstNet wants to capture the inputs from agencies and forward them to AT&T to ensure that the network continues to meet the needs of its users, he said. The goal is to help agencies “optimize FirstNet inside their agencies,” he said.

Since June 20, FirstNet has had more than 115 engagements attended by more than 1,500 stakeholders, said Mr. Buchanan, adding that FirstNet believes there is “a strong craving from public safety” to hear from FirstNet.

He mentioned that upcoming agency engagements are scheduled in Richmond, Va., Guam, and Minnesota.

FirstNet has developed an agency engagement workshop program that includes an agency operations and technology workshop, a data capture workshop, a products and services workshop, and after-action review engagement. It also has launched a podcast to get the word out, he said.

Asked what types of questions he hears from stakeholders, Mr. Buchanan said, “I think we caught a lot of people by surprise,” adding that some were not ready for the network and others were still not familiar with it. He said among the issues for workshops and other discussions are local control and priority service levels. —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

Verizon Executive Touts Offering, Takes Shot at AT&T

LAS VEGAS — A Verizon Communications, Inc., executive today touted his company’s public safety broadband offering, which is competing with the service being offered by AT&T, Inc., which is building the nationwide public safety broadband network for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).

During a session this afternoon at the APCO 2018 show here, Michael Maiorana, senior vice president–public sector for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, repeatedly suggested that Verizon offers the coverage, performance, reliability, and sustainability that the public safety community wants. He also touted Verizon’s historical dominant share of the public safety market and its decades in working with that sector.

“I am a promoter of FirstNet,” Mr. Maiorana said, adding that it “has helped raise the bar” on serving the public safety community.

“FirstNet is not a mandatory program. AT&T has to earn your business. Verizon has to earn your business,” he noted, adding that public safety would benefit with Verizon’s innovation and service and probably its superior pricing.

He also said Verizon has a 450,000-square-mile coverage advantage over the next carrier, adding of AT&T, “They’ll never catch up.”

“If you don’t have coverage, you’ve got a brick in your hand,” he said. “All of these innovation services are really only as good as the network they are on.”

Mr. Maiorana also noted that Verizon has pushed for his company to be permitted to be interoperable with AT&T’s FirstNet network, saying it is possible because both carriers have systems built on 3GPP standards, which he said is “a pathway to true interoperability.”  That would allow subscribers to both carriers to communicate via push-to-talk (PTT) and to be recognized at the same priority levels. FirstNet and AT&T oppose allowing core-to-core interoperability. Continue reading