|Wireless News Aggregation|
Welcome Back To The Wireless Messaging News
Ira Wiesenfeld and I were able to help Bob Rosso of RadioMax in Rochester, New York get a paging system back up and running after a move this week.
Brad Dye, Ron Mercer, Allan Angus, Vic Jackson, and Ira Wiesenfeld are friends and colleagues who work both together and independently, on wireline and wireless communications projects.
Click here for a summary of our qualifications and experience.
I enjoy living in the country but sometimes there are issues that I would rather not have to deal with.
One morning last week I found a puddle of water on the kitchen floor. Water was dripping around the cold water spigot on the refrigerator. I called the local store that I bought it from and my friend there decided it was a stuck valve and said he would order a new one.
But then things got worse.
Turns out that it had quit cooling inside and so the leaking water was probably just ice melting. This happens frequently with this brand of fridge after a power failure. The fix is to unplug the AC power cord and then plug it back in.
So it started to cool and I was happy, thinking that it was fixed.
Unfortunately it quit cooling again. Dead as a doornail.
I called the manufacturer's support line and they told me that I hadn't left it off long enough. It has to be off for 5 or 6 minutes to properly reset. Tried that — didn't work.
All this troubleshooting was now into the second day and so I had to throw out all the contents of the fridge and the freezer into the trash.
Then on Sunday afternoon my friend came out with a screwdriver. We pulled the fridge away from the wall and he removed a panel on the back.
I was happy when I heard him say, “I found it!” but a little embarrassed at what he found.
There was a dead mouse caught in the blades of a fan.
The fan couldn't turn causing the system to overheat and then shut down.
What does this have to do with Wireless Messaging?
Absolutely nothing. But still . . . it's a funny story.
NO POLITICS HERE
This doesn't mean that nothing is ever published here that mentions a US political party—it just means that the editorial policy of this newsletter is to remain neutral on all political issues. We don't take sides.
A new issue of the Wireless Messaging Newsletter is posted on the web each week. A notification goes out by e-mail to subscribers on most Fridays around noon central US time. The notification message has a link to the actual newsletter on the web. That way it doesn’t fill up your incoming e-mail account.
There is no charge for subscription and there are no membership restrictions. Readers are a very select group of wireless industry professionals, and include the senior managers of many of the world’s major Paging and Wireless Messaging companies. There is an even mix of operations managers, marketing people, and engineers — so I try to include items of interest to all three groups. It’s all about staying up-to-date with business trends and technology.
I regularly get readers’ comments, so this newsletter has become a community forum for the Paging, and Wireless Messaging communities. You are welcome to contribute your ideas and opinions. Unless otherwise requested, all correspondence addressed to me is subject to publication in the newsletter and on my web site. I am very careful to protect the anonymity of those who request it.
I spend the whole week searching the Internet for news that I think may be of interest to you — so you won’t have to. This newsletter is an aggregator — a service that aggregates news from other news sources. You can help our community by sharing any interesting news that you find.
Editorial Opinion pieces present only the opinions of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of any of advertisers or supporters. This newsletter is independent of any trade association. I don't intend to hurt anyone's feelings, but I do freely express my own opinions.
We need your help. This is the only remaining news source dedicated to information about Paging and Wireless Messaging.
Service Monitors and Frequency Standards for Sale
(Images are typical units, not actual photos of items offered for sale here.)
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FCC: Marin cell sites failed broadly amid Kincade fire
By LISA KRIEGER
Even as California burns, the cell phones of many residents have gone mute, preventing them from giving or getting emergency information.
A report prepared by the Federal Communications Commission reveals that at least 874 of the state’s cell sites were out on Monday, up from 630 on Sunday, when fires broke out all around the Bay Area.
Because these cell sites lack battery or generator backup, they’re useless when PG&E cuts power.
In Marin County, more than half — 57.1 percent — of sites weren’t working. Fire-ravaged Sonoma County, where the Kincaid fire is 66,000 acres and growing, lost 17 percent of its sites. Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Napa, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties lost 22.5 percent, 11.4 percent, 19.2 percent, 11.4 percent and 2.1 percent of sites, respectively. Data was not reported for Alameda County.
In addition, more than 454,722 subscribers with landline phones, cable television or Internet also lost service due to power shutoffs, according to the FCC report.
“It has been extremely isolating and worrisome,” said Santa Cruz Mountains resident Sherry McNamara. “We are cut off and thus put in danger.”
Residents said even their once-reliable landlines and Internet, such as those operated by Frontier Communications, weren’t working. Comcast/Xfinity also was down. Four FM radio stations — K238AF, KKLJ, KNOB, KSXY — reported being out of service. Also silent were two AM radio stations, KIHH and KYAA. Of the outages, most were due to loss of power to the cell tower. Only about 60 were caused by wind or fire damage.
And that’s only part of the problem. The new report contains only data submitted by providers in the Disaster Information Reporting System, a voluntary network used to report communications infrastructure status during times of crisis. Of California’s 58 counties, 32 are included. That represents about 26,000 cell sites.
Cell towers, for instance, use antennas and base stations to connect calls from one tower to another and to other cellular and landline providers. And these systems need electricity to operate.
But there is no requirement to have backup electrical power at cell towers. The only requirement is that they deliver backup power to certain sites and at certain locations — such as an evacuation center — after an emergency, according to Ana Maria Johnson of the Public Advocate’s Office of the state Public Utilities Commission.
During an emergency, they are not required to disclose which towers are down or which carriers have lost service, according to the CPUC. Nor do they need to tell authorities how close their backup power is to downed cell site. Is help an hour away, or two days away? No one knows except the company.
This jeopardizes the safety of California residents who have cut the landline cord and rely solely on cell phones, said Johnson.
Wireless networks deliver federal and state emergency alerts, transmits 911 calls and helps police and other “first responders” make decisions about when and where to deploy resources.
“It is unacceptable for cell sites to not have backup power, when over 80 percent of our 911 calls are from wireless phones,” said Johnson.
Comcast customers lose service where the power is out at their home, because the services need energy to operate, according to Comcast’s Joan Hammel. Comcast service also stops if power is disrupted elsewhere in the network, she said.
“Like all PG&E customers, we are also affected by this power shutdown, said Vince Bitong of AT&T. “We are aware that service for some customers may be affected and we continue to move quickly to keep our customers, FirstNet subscribers and public safety agencies connected.”
Landlines used to be more reliable, because their power was sent to the phones through copper wires, which are more heat-resistant. And phone company offices had extensive battery systems, as well as backup generators.
But companies’ transition to Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) — with phone calls over the Internet — requires power. VOIP calls fail when either the company’s facility or the resident’s home lacks backup power.
In 2008, the Federal Communications Commission ordered carriers to install eight hours of backup power at all cell sites and 24 hours of backup power at all central switching facilities.
But when the wireless industry challenged the order in court and won on procedural grounds, the FCC dropped the effort.
In 2007, California also considered stronger reliability standards but declined to impose them.
Fearing blackouts in future natural disasters, CPUC’s advocates filed a legal motion urging the Commission to immediately require carriers provide backup battery or generator power and network redundancy in designated high fire risk zones to ensure that emergency alerts are received and that 911 calls are answered. They are hopeful that new CPUC president Marybel Batjer will demand accountability.
“The companies need to provide safe and reliable service,” said Johnson.
|Source:||Marin Independent Journal||(Thanks to Tom Cook)|
Paging Transmitters 150/900 MHz
The RFI High Performance Paging Transmitter is designed for use in campus, city, state and country-wide paging systems. Designed for use where reliable simulcast systems where RF signal overlap coverage is critical.
Built-in custom interface for Prism-IPX ipBSC Base Controller for remote control, management and alarm reporting.
Prism-IPX Systems LLC.
I would like to recommend Easy Solutions for Support of all Glenayre Paging Equipment. This Texas company is owned and operated by Vaughan Bowden. I have known Vaughan for over 35 years. Without going into a long list of his experience and qualifications, let me just say that he was the V.P. of Engineering at PageNet which was—at that time—the largest paging company in the world. So Vaughan knows Paging.
GTES is no longer offering support contracts. GTES was the original group from Vancouver that was setup to offer support to customers that wanted to continue with the legacy Glenayre support. Many U.S. customers chose not to use this service because of the price and the original requirement to upgrade to version 8.0 software (which required expensive hardware upgrades, etc.). Most contracts ended as of February 2018.
If you are at all concerned about future support of Glenayre products, especially the “king of the hill” the GL3000 paging control terminal, I encourage you to talk to Vaughan about a service contract and please tell him about my recommendation.
The Wireless Messaging News
The Board of Advisor members are people with whom I have developed a special rapport, and have met personally. They are not obligated to support the newsletter in any way, except with advice, and maybe an occasional letter to the editor.
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Apple warns some iPhone users: Update your phone or lose Internet
By Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN Updated 3:31 PM ET, Wed October 30, 2019
(CNN)If it ain't broke, don't fix it — right? Well, some of you Apple product users may not have a choice this weekend.
Apple is warning owners of older iPhones and iPads that if they don't update their devices to the latest iOS software by Sunday, they won't be able to connect to the internet.
IPhone and iPad products from 2012 and earlier will need the update before midnight UTC on November 3 in order to maintain accurate GPS location and continue using the App Store, iCloud, email and web browsing, according to Apple.
iOS 13 is now on more than half of all iPhones iOS 13 is now on more than half of all iPhones This is all because of the GPS time rollover issue, according to Apple, something that happens about every 19 years when GPS devices need to reset in order to accurately measure time and dates, according to the Office of Electricity at the Department of Energy.
Apple said during the last reset on April 6, GPS-enabled products from other manufacturers were affected.
So if you have an iPhone 5, 4, or a cellular-enabled iPad mini, iPad 2 or a third-generation iPad, this is for you.
The updated software version number should be 10.3.4 or 9.3.6, depending on your device.
iOS 10.3.4: iPhone 5 and iPad (4th generation) Wi-Fi + Cellular
iOS 9.3.6: iPhone 4s, iPad mini (1st generation) Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad 2 Wi-Fi + Cellular (CDMA models only), iPad (3rd generation) Wi-Fi + Cellular Apple warns that iOS 13 keyboards can leak your data Apple warns that iOS 13 keyboards can leak your data If you're not sure which version your iPhone or iPad has, follow these directions:
If you're not able to update your devices before Sunday, Apple said you'll have to back up and restore using a computer because over-the-air software updates and iCloud Backup won't work anymore.
Click on the image above for more info about advertising here.
Internet Protocol Terminal
The IPT accepts Internet or serial messaging using various protocols and can easily convert them to different protocols, or send them out as paging messages.
An ideal platform for hospitals, on-site paging applications, or converting legacy systems to modern protocols.
Prism-IPX Systems LLC.
EWA Elects New Board Members and Officers
For Immediate Release
Contact: Andrea Cumpston, Communications Director
October 30, 2019 (Herndon, VA) — The Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) is pleased to announce the election of six new members to its Board of Directors, which occurred during its annual meetings held last week in Kansas City, Missouri.
Newly elected Directors are:
In addition, the following members of the Board of Directors were elected to serve on EWA’s Executive Committee for the 2019-2020 term:
Following these elections, EWA President Mark Crosby stated that “These professionals bring a wealth of experience and leadership to the Alliance and represent EWA’s dedication to serving the land mobile industry through technology advancements and pragmatic regulatory oversight.”
About the Enterprise Wireless Alliance
The Enterprise Wireless Alliance is an FCC-certified frequency advisory committee and leading advocate for business enterprises that rely on wireless communications systems. EWA has 65 years of experience in meeting the needs of business enterprises that rely on wireless communications systems. EWA provides its members and clients with consulting services, frequency coordination, license preparation, spectrum management and associated services. Membership in EWA is open to users of wireless communications systems, vendors, system operators and service organizations. EWA is the developer of Cevo®, a powerful online frequency coordination solution, which simplifies the FCC license application process and allows users to select their own frequencies and is the creator of Cevo Go™ a mobile app that delivers certified frequencies in hours, not days. More information about membership and services is available at www.enterprisewireless.org.
|Source:||Enterprise Wireless Alliance|
Paging Data Receiver PDR-4
The PDR-4 is a multi-function paging data receiver that decodes paging messages and outputs them via the serial port, USB or Ethernet connectors.
Designed for use with Prism-IPX ECHO software Message Logging Software to receive messages and log the information for proof of transmission over the air, and if the data was error free.
Prism-IPX Systems LLC.
Wireless Network Planners
A Radio Enthusiast Was Live-streaming Sensitive Medical Patient Information Being Sent to Pagers
By Jennings Brown
Pagers used within the United Kingdom’s National Health Service are leaking sensitive patient information, and an amateur radio enthusiast has been broadcasting some of that medical data on a webcam live-stream, a security researcher has found.
TechCrunch reports that Florida-based security researcher Daley Borda stumbled upon the strange confluence of archaic tech that flowed together to create a security nightmare.
Borda regularly scans the Internet looking for concerning privacy and security activity. He recently discovered a grainy live-stream showing a radio rig in North London that picked up radio waves and converted the transmissions into text that was displayed on a computer screen, according to TechCrunch. The hobbyist had set up a webcam that captured what was on the display, which showed medical emergencies as they were being reported. The webcam reportedly had no password, so anyone could find it and see the messages that showed directions meant for ambulances responding to emergency calls.
“You can see details of calls coming in—their name, address, and injury,” Borda told TechCrunch, which verified his discovery.
The tech news outlet reviewed several concerning messages that showed the location where people were reporting medical emergencies, including one that showed the address where a 49-year-old man was having chest pains and one that showed the address of a 98-year old man who had fallen.
The pager messages were reportedly coming from a regional National Health Service (NHS) trust. The NHS, like many medical institutions and hospitals around the world, still use pagers, also known as beepers. These archaic devices use low frequencies that can reach farther and penetrate dead zones. Many hospitals are filled with dead zones because the buildings have thick walls that are meant to block X-rays.
As TechCrunch points out, pagers often use the FLEX and POCSAG protocols, which are not encrypted and are easy to translate with easily found software.
TechCrunch contacted the radio enthusiast’s Internet provider to inform them of the situation. The provider later told TechCrunch that it had contacted the hobbyist who said they were “unaware of the nature of the information being shown,” and would end the webcam feed.
A spokesperson for NHS told Gizmodo that the NHS consists of several different organizations, like hospital trusts and ambulances trusts, and “each organization is responsible for the technology it buys and uses (including pagers).” They pointed Gizmodo to a statement that Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock issued in February instructed the NHS to stop using pagers by 2022. In his statement, he said the NHS uses 130,000 pagers.
|Source:||GIZMODO||(Thanks to Barry Kane)|
Remote AB Switches
ABX-1 switches are often used at remote transmitter sites to convert from old, outdated and unsupported controllers to the new modern Prism-IPX ipBSC base station controllers. Remotely switch to new controllers with GUI commands.
ABX-3 switches are widely used for enabling or disabling remote equipment and switching I/O connections between redundant messaging systems.
Prism-IPX Systems LLC.
Congressional Champion of Amateur Radio Greg Walden, W7EQI, Announces Retirement
One of amateur radio’s strongest supporters in the US House of Representatives, Oregon Republican Greg Walden, W7EQI — the top Republican on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee — said this week that he won't be seeking another term in 2020. Walden, 62, who will have served for 22 years the US House at the end of his current term, championed the Amateur Radio Parity Act as the chair of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. He went on to chair the US House Energy and Commerce Committee in the 115th Congress, and has served as the panel’s ranking member since the Democratic Party gained control of the House.
“I will close the public service chapter of my life, thankful for the friends I’ve made and the successful work we’ve done together,” Walden said in a statement.
In 2014, The ARRL Board of Directors voted to confer the first Barry Goldwater, K7UGA, Achievement Award “in recognition of many years of exceptional contributions to the strength and vitality of the Amateur Radio Service in the United States.”
In 2002 Walden was an original cosponsor of H.R. 4720, the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Consistency Act, which aimed to provide relief to amateurs faced with private deed covenants, conditions, and restrictions — CC&Rs in erecting antennas by requiring private land-use regulators, such as homeowners’ associations, to “reasonably accommodate” amateur radio communication.
In 2003 he cosponsored H.R. 713, the Amateur Radio Spectrum Protection Act, and during a hearing on the bill, Walden called for a halt to the “astonishing” erosion of amateur radio spectrum.
In 2004, Walden wrote the FCC chairman, seeking to have the Commission defer action on the Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) rule making until the release of an NTIA study and an opportunity for public comment. That same year, during a hearing on telecom convergence, Walden grilled a BPL industry representative about interference.
In 2010, Walden cosponsored H.R. 2160, the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Enhancement Act — a subsequent bill addressing the issue of private land-use constraints on amateur radio antennas.
In 2011, ARRL was invited to testify before Walden’s subcommittee on “Creating an Interoperable Public Safety Network,” offering an opportunity to defend 420 – 440 MHz against reallocation.
During a 2016 Capitol Hill hearing, Walden called the Amateur Radio Parity Act (H.R. 1301) “a commonsense bill” and urged his colleagues to support it.
“As a ham radio operator, I’m acutely aware of the passion that amateur radio operators have for their service,” Walden told the subcommittee. “Despite its widespread use and importance in times of emergencies, land-use restrictions in some areas have prioritized esthetics over the rights of hams. H.R. 1301 seeks to ensure that amateur radio operators get a fair shake and protection from unnecessary bans on their equipment by instructing the FCC to adopt rules to this end.”
FCC to Vote on Vertical Access for Wireless 911 Calls in Multi-story Buildings
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai released a proposal to help first responders locate people who call 911 from wireless phones in multi-story buildings. Specifically, it would establish a vertical (or “z-axis”) location accuracy metric of three meters for indoor wireless 911 calls. The Commission plans to vote on this proposal at its next meeting on November 19.
“If you call 911 for help, emergency responders need to know where to find you,” said Chairman Pai. “But that can be a challenge if you make a wireless 911 call from a multi-story building, like many apartments and offices. Even if first responders know which building you’re in—that is, your horizontal location—they may still need your vertical location to determine which floor you’re on.”
The agency intends to address this safety gap. If adopted, the new rule would help first responders locate emergency callers more quickly and accurately. “Establishing a z-axis metric of three meters is a major step forward, and I’m grateful for the broad support it’s received from the public safety community, including our nation’s firefighters,” said Pai.
The draft order would establish a z-axis location accuracy metric of three meters relative to the handset for 80 percent of indoor wireless 911 calls. The draft item also seeks comment on whether to establish a long-term timeline for more stringent location accuracy.
The z-axis metric of three meters has been supported by first responders, including the International Association of Fire Fighters, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs’ Association, and the National Association of State EMS Officials, according to the FCC.
This action is part of the FCC’s efforts to help first responders locate 911 callers more quickly and accurately. Most recently, in August, the Commission adopted rules to improve 911 calling from multi-line telephone systems (which commonly serve hotels, office buildings, and campuses) and other calling platforms, Inside Towers reported.
Generators Still Needed in California Fire Fight
While the fires in California come increasingly under control of the first response teams throughout the region, one resource is still lacking at area tower sites: back-up generators. KRON-TV reports there’s a shortage of them and emergency personnel have requested an additional 500 generators to stay connected.
State 911 Manager, Budge Currer, stated, “The longer the power is out, the more sites are impacted, the need for generators increases, and then the generator needs begin to compete with communications, like water and sewer, a school, or a grocery store.” A generator task force has been set up by the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services to address the current shortage. Discussions are already in the works to make it a legal requirement for cell phone companies operating in California to maintain their own back-up systems.
California has been facing statewide power outages and blackouts as PG&E has attempted to manage power consumption. When an area is subject to a blackout, the demand on the back-up generators increased dramatically, according to KRON-TV. “There are limitations on how long those generators can run on this temporary mode, and more importantly than that, there’s physical limitations on those generators to run two weeks straight with no maintenance,” Currier explained.
|Source:||Inside Towers newsletter|| Courtesy of the editor of Inside Towers.
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Selected portions [sometimes more — sometimes less — sometimes the whole updates] of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update and/or the BloostonLaw Private Users Update — newsletters from the Law Offices of Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP — are reproduced in this section of The Wireless Messaging News with kind permission from the firm. The firm's contact information is included at the end of this section of the newsletter.
DIRS Active for California Power Shutdown; Expands County List
Last week, the FCC announced the activation of the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) in response to the California Public Safety Power Shutoffs. Today, the FCC expanded the list of counties in which DIRS is active. See the full list below.
The FCC requests that communications providers that provide service to any areas listed below expeditiously submit and update information through DIRS regarding, inter alia, the status of their communications equipment, restoration efforts, and power (i.e., whether they are using commercial power or back-up power). For providers that participate in DIRS, the separate Network Outage Reporting System (NORS) obligations are suspended for the duration of the DIRS activation with respect to outages in the counties where DIRS has been activated.
Counties of interest for this activation include the following: Alpine, Alameda, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Kern, Lake, Los Angeles, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Plumas, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Ventura, Yolo, and Yuba.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, John Prendergast, and Mary Sisak.
FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for November Open Meeting
On October 30, the FCC announced that the following items are tentatively on the agenda for the November Open Commission Meeting, currently scheduled for November 19:
Each summary above contains a link to the draft text of each item expected to be considered at this Open Commission Meeting. One-page cover sheets prepared by the FCC are included in the public drafts to help provide an additional summary.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
FCC Access Arbitrage Order Effective November 27
On October 28, the FCC published its Report and Order and Modification addressing access arbitrage in the Federal register. As a result, the rules are effective November 27, except for the rules requiring carriers engaging in access stimulation to provide certain notices. Those rules will become effective upon approval by the Office of Management and Budget.
As we reported in a previous edition of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, the FCC’s Order took three main steps to address access arbitrage. First, it required that an access-stimulating local phone company, rather than the long-distance company, be financially responsible for covering the cost of incoming traffic. Second, it expanded the definition of “access stimulation” to include situations in which the access-stimulating phone company does not have a revenue sharing agreement with a conference calling, chat line, or similar service, but instead has an unusually high ratio of inbound calling traffic as compared to outbound calling traffic. Finally, the Order modified the authorizations of centralized equal access providers to permit traffic bound for access-stimulating local phone companies to bypass those intermediate providers.
The new rules require carriers that engage in access stimulation to provide the FCC, all Intermediate Access Providers that it subtends, and Inter-exchange Carriers with which it does business that it is engaged in access stimulation; that it will designate the Intermediate Access Provider(s) that will provide the terminating switched access tandem switching and terminating switched access tandem transport services to the local exchange carrier engaged in access stimulation; and that it will pay for those services as of that date. Carriers terminating their engagement in access stimulation are required to provide concurrent, written notification to the FCC and any affected Intermediate Access Provider(s) and Inter-exchange Carrier(s) of such fact.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Mary Sisak, and Sal Taillefer.
FCC Order Transforming the 2.5 GHz Band for 5G Services Could Trigger Petitions for Reconsideration
The FCC last summer voted to modernize the regulatory framework for the 2.5 GHz Educational Broadband Service (EBS) and to make a significant amount of mid-band spectrum available for advanced wireless services, including 5G. Last Friday’s Federal Register publication of the 2.5 GHz Report and Order sets Monday, November 25th as the deadline for filing petitions for reconsideration of the item. Since the FCC’s action eliminated educational use requirements from a portion of the 2.5 GHz band that has been set aside for educators since 1963, as well as long-standing EBS eligibility requirements, it would not be surprising to see groups like the National EBS Association (NEBSA) and/or other groups file challenges to the new rules.
In the meantime, however, our law firm’s clients that are interested in obtaining valuable mid-band spectrum for fixed or mobile broadband services should evaluate the levels of incumbency and availability of EBS spectrum in their counties of interest, since the 2.5 GHz band is expected to be auctioned in mid-to-late 2020, and may provide a workable alternative to 3.5 GHz Priority Access Licenses (PALs) that will be auctioned starting next June or C-Band satellite spectrum (3.7-4.2 GHz) that is currently the subject of a controversial private auction proposal under consideration by the Commission.
The 2.5 GHz band is the single largest band of contiguous spectrum below 3 GHz, and is touted as offering favorable coverage and capacity characteristics for next-generation fixed and mobile services. The 2.5 GHz Report and Order (FCC 19-62) provides incumbent EBS licensees greater flexibility, by eliminating educational use and EBS eligibility requirements that have been earmarks of the EBS band since the early 1960s. In conjunction with these regulatory changes, the FCC is planning a commercial auction of county-based 2.5 GHz “overlay” licenses for unused EBS spectrum, following a brief priority filing window for rural Tribal Nations to acquire all available EBS spectrum on their Tribal lands.
Depending on the level of incumbent EBS licensing in their area of interest, this could potentially be an opportunity for our law firm’s clients to obtain rights to “white space” spectrum. The revised EBS band plan will include three overlay licenses in each county: the first license will include channels A1-A-3, B1-B3, C1-C3 (49.5 megahertz); the second license will include channels D1-D3, the J channels, and channels A4-G4 (50.5 megahertz); and the third license will include channels G1-G3 and the relevant EBS K channels (16.5 megahertz of contiguous spectrum and 1 megahertz of the K channels associated with the G channel group).
The exact timing for the 2.5 GHz EBS auction has not yet been announced, but senior FCC officials have indicated the Tribal Priority Window could take place in parallel with the next millimeter wave spectrum auction scheduled to start Dec. 10. That would put the likely start date for a 2.5 GHz EBS auction in mid-to late 2020, and likely after the June 2020 3.5 GHz PAL auction has been completed. The exact dates and deadlines for the auction will be set by the FCC in a future Public Notice.
Clients that may be interested in bidding for county-based 2.5 GHz EBS licenses should begin their due diligence now, to assess the level of incumbent EBS licensing in their county(ies) of interest. Please contact us if you have any questions or if you want us to assist in evaluating EBS spectrum availability in your areas of interest.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Cary Mitchell, John Prendergast
Chairman Announces Supply Chain Security Order
On October 28, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued a Press Release announcing that he has circulated among the full FCC a two-part proposal “that would help safeguard the nation’s communications networks.” The FCC will vote on this proposal at its November 19 meeting.
First, a draft Report and Order would bar communications companies from using any support they receive from the FCC’s Universal Service Fund to purchase equipment or services from companies posing a national security threat, like the Chinese companies Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. The draft Order would also establish a process for designating other suppliers that pose a national security threat.
Second, a draft Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would propose requiring certain carriers receiving USF funds, known as eligible telecommunications carriers, to remove existing equipment and services from designated companies from their networks, and seek comment on how to provide financial assistance to these carriers to help them transition to more trusted suppliers. The draft item would also adopt an information collection to help assess the extent to which eligible telecommunications carriers have deployed Huawei and ZTE equipment in their networks as well as the costs to remove and replace it.
Chairman Pai also issued the following statement:
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, John Prendergast, and Sal Taillefer.
FCC Initiates Proceeding on Fifteenth Broadband Deployment Report
On October 23, the FCC released the Notice of Inquiry regarding its fifteenth annual Broadband Deployment report. Comments are due November 22, and reply comments are due December 9.
One of the major areas on which the FCC seeks comment is its data sources and analytics. Specifically, the FCC proposes to continue to use FCC Form 477 deployment data to evaluate deployment of fixed and mobile broadband services, and seeks comment on the extent to which such data may be inaccurate. The FCC invites commenters who object to the use of such data for the purposes of this Inquiry to provide recommendations for alternative datasets or supplements to the FCC Form 477 data. Carriers interested in commenting should contact the firm for more information.
Other areas on which the FCC seeks comment on is the continued use of 25/3 Mbps as the benchmark for access to broadband service, and on the continued use of four categories of subscribers: 1) those with fixed services available; (2) those with mobile LTE services available; (3) those with both fixed terrestrial and mobile LTE services available; and (4) those with at least one of either fixed terrestrial or mobile LTE services available.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Sal Taillefer.
Law & Regulation
FCC Adopts Items at October Open Meeting
On October 25, the FCC held its monthly Open Meeting. At the meeting, the FCC adopted the following items:
Links in the above summaries lead to the final, adopted FCC documents. Where no link is present, the final text is not yet available.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
Rep. Walden Announces Retirement
On October 28, House Commerce ranking member Greg Walden (R-OR) will retire when this Congress ends in January 2021.
"Based on recent polling, strong fundraising, and the backing of my wife and family, I am confident I could earn the support of 2nd District voters for another term. I’m also optimistic that a path exists for Republicans to recapture a majority in the House, and that I could return for two more years as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Walden said in a statement given to POLITICO. “But I also know that for me, the time has come to pursue new challenges and opportunities."
Walden added: “So, I will not seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, nor election to any other office, but instead I will close the public service chapter of my life, thankful for the friends I’ve made and the successful work we’ve done together."
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and John Prendergast.
FCC Announces Next Meeting of BDAC
On October 23, the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing that he next meeting of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC). The meeting will be held Tuesday, December 3, 2019, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
At this meeting, the BDAC will receive status reports and updates from its three working groups: Disaster Response and Recovery, Increasing Broadband Investment in Low-Income Communities, and Broadband Infrastructure Deployment Job Skills and Training Opportunities. This agenda may be modified at the discretion of the BDAC Chair and the Designated Federal Officer (DFO).
The FCC will also provide audio and/or video coverage of the meeting over the Internet from the FCC’s web page at www.fcc.gov/live. Carriers may submit comments to the BDAC; any carrier interested in doing so should contact the firm for more information.
NOVEMBER 1: FCC FORM 499-Q, TELECOMMUNICATIONS REPORTING WORKSHEET. All telecommunications common carriers that expect to contribute more than $10,000 to federal Universal Service Fund (USF) support mechanisms must file this quarterly form. The FCC has modified this form in light of its decision to establish interim measures for USF contribution assessments. The form contains revenue information from the prior quarter plus projections for the next quarter. Form 499-Q relates only to USF contributions. It does not relate to the cost recovery mechanisms for the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund, the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), and the shared costs of local number portability (LNP), which are covered in the annual Form 499-A that is due April 1.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Gerry Duffy and Sal Taillefer.
BloostonLaw Opposing FCC Proposal to Rely Solely on Email Communications
BloostonLaw is filing comments on behalf of its clients objecting to the Commission’s proposed use of email as the sole means of correspondence between the Commission and applicants/licensees. At first blush, while this would seem to be a somewhat innocuous and procedural proposal by the FCC. However, reliance solely on email could have very harmful consequences for our clients if it is implemented. If the Commission were to transition to an all-email system of correspondence and eliminate paper copies sent by U.S. Mail, we are concerned that a license could be inadvertently canceled, an application dismissed, or that the Commission could issue a fine for non-responsiveness, without the licensee’s actual knowledge, if an important FCC notice were to get caught up in a spam filter, mis-delivered, or otherwise lost in the shuffle. Domain names can change, viruses affect email reliability and there is a need to constantly upgrade or even change security programs in the face of increasingly sophisticated malware/ransomware threats. Likewise, sole reliance on email would be contrary to best practices, since most email accounts are password protected and other office personnel would not have knowledge of critical time-sensitive Commission correspondence in the event that the intended recipient is out of the office and unable to access his or her email. Issues could also arise if the intended recipient is no longer with the company. Retaining paper mailings and use of USPS as the “official” means of communications is important to protecting your substantive and procedural rights. Use of email can be a valuable supplement to this process, but has inherent vulnerabilities.
Please let us know if you would like to support these comments.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast, Cary Mitchell and Richard Rubino
Interference Complaint Results in FCC Station Inspection and Enforcement Action
Recently, in response to an interference complaint, the FCC conducted a station inspection for a private land mobile station licensed to Big Six Towers, Inc. (“Big Six”) with respect to Conventional Industrial/Business Pool Service station WQLM734 at Woodside, New York. The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued a Notice of Violation upon finding that Big Six was operating its base station and mobile units on a frequency different from the one on which it was authorized to operate.
Office clients are reminded to verify their radio operations against their FCC licenses in order to ensure that the mobile radios, base stations and repeaters are being operated in accordance with the terms specified on the licenses. We have also become aware that certain radios from major manufacturers that require licensing are being sold over the Internet on Amazon and other e-commerce platforms without the necessary guidance to ensure that the radios are properly licensed. In this regard, while the materials shipped with the radios indicate that licensing is required, it apparently is not obvious to the end user (e.g., no sticker on the radio which indicates licensing is required that must be removed before the radio can be used). Additionally, radios purchased in this manner will require programing through a local radio shop vendor in order to ensure that the radio’s operation conforms to any license that is ultimately issued by the FCC.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
FCC Data Breach Serves as Reminder to Make Sure Computer Systems and Web Pages are Properly Secured
Last week, the FCC disclosed an Auction 103 data security failure that resulted in the market selections of Auction 103 applicants being inadvertently made available to the public for close to three hours on October 7th. During this brief window, the FCC says the license area selections of “a small number of applicants” were viewed. This is significant because the FCC does not make license area selections publicly available prior to a spectrum auction in order to ensure that there is no impact on the competitiveness of the spectrum auction.
The data breach, while unintentional, serves as a reminder to review procedures to ensure that data is properly secured behind fire walls and properly backed up in case of a ransomware attack or other nefarious activity. Additionally, clients who utilize web pages – especially those with Intranet pages – should ensure that confidential data cannot be inadvertently placed in the incorrect section that would allow sensitive information that normally resides on the Intranet to be placed on the Internet for all to see.
In the FCC’s case, action was taken to mitigate any potential harm. As a result, the data breach did not lead the Commission to make any other changes to the Auction 103 schedule or procedures and bidding will start as previously scheduled on December 10, 2019.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
FCC Modifies Temporary Freeze on 900 MHz Band Applications
The Commission has modified its temporary freeze on the acceptance of certain applications related to land mobile radio services operating in the 896-901/935-940 MHz (“900 MHz”) band. This freeze, which was implemented in September 2018, prevented the acceptance of applications for new or expanded use of the 900 MHz band in order to “preserve the current landscape” pending Commission action on its inquiry regarding the potential use of next-generation technologies and services in the band. In the March 2019 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission proposed to realign the 900 MHz band to create a 3/3 megahertz broadband segment (897.5-900.5 MHz/936.5-939.5 MHz), while reserving the remaining 2/2 megahertz of spectrum (896-897.5/935-936.5 MHz and 900.5-901/939.5-940 MHz) for narrowband operations.
In a request for modification of the freeze, pdvWireless, Inc. d/b/a Anterix (“Anterix”) asserts that numerous incumbents in the 900 MHz band were in the process of upgrading equipment or replacing systems when the freeze was announced. As a result, Anterix requested that the freeze be modified to provide flexibility for incumbents to exchange frequencies in the proposed broadband segment voluntarily for an equal number of frequencies in the segments that would continue to be used for narrowband operations. In order to ensure that there is no net increase in the number of frequencies assigned to incumbents, Anterix suggested that, if an incumbent is granted 900 MHz band frequencies outside the proposed broadband segment, its authorization for the corresponding frequencies in the proposed broadband segment be canceled. Anterix argued that allowing incumbents to exchange frequencies on this basis before the Commission adopts final rules for the 900 MHz band realignment would accelerate the process of clearing the broadband segment of narrowband incumbents without prejudging or compromising the outcome of the rule-making proceeding. It also suggests that modifying the freeze as requested will curtail individual requests for waiver of the freeze.
In granting the waiver request to modify the 900 MHz freeze, the Commission concluded that the underlying purpose of the freeze, which is to “preserve the current landscape of authorized operations in the band while the Commission considers potential rule changes” would not be jeopardized by allowing incumbent licensees to exchange frequencies in a manner that does not increase that incumbent’s net number of licensed frequencies and is consistent with the proposed 900 MHz band realignment. Further, the Commission noted that it would not permit licensees to increase the number of unique channels assigned to them, which would encumber more channels across a region. Specifically, a licensee authorized for an 897.5-900.5 MHz/936.5-939.5 MHz segment frequency pair at multiple locations must replace it with the same 896-897.5/935-936.5 MHz or 900.5-901/939.5-940 MHz segment frequency pair at each such location. Finally, the Commission agreed that the blanket modification of the freeze would serve the public interest by eliminating the need for individual waiver requests.
Applicants seeking to file 900 MHz applications under this waiver will be required to make a special showing which specifies which particular frequency pair is to be canceled in exchange for the particular new frequency. Likewise, the Commission will not require the simultaneous deletion of the old frequencies from the license because licensees may need to continue to use the old frequencies during a transition period while constructing and testing the new frequencies. Instead, in order to ensure that there is no net increase in the number of licensed 900 MHz band frequencies beyond this temporary transition period, applications will be granted on the express condition that the licensee must cancel its authorization for the corresponding frequencies in the 897.5-900.5 MHz/936.5-939.5 MHz segment no later than 180 days after the application is granted. The Commission has stated that a failure to cancel the 897.5-900.5 MHz/936.5-939.5 MHz segment frequencies as required will be treated as a failure to meet a condition of the license grant and thus be grounds for declaring that the license authorization for the frequencies in the 896-897.5/935-936.5 MHz and/or 900.5-901/939.5-940 MHz segments automatically terminated. Thus, this means that any frequency changes must be implemented promptly as licensees will not have the typical one-year construction period to implement modifications to their license.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
FCC Enters $45,000 Settlement Over Antenna Structure Lighting Probe
The FCC has entered into a $45,000 Consent Decree with Arctic Slope Telephone Association Cooperative, Inc. (Arctic Slope) in order to resolve its investigation as to whether Arctic Slope failed to (a) inspect the obstruction lights on three of its antenna structures once each day and (b) display the correct antenna structure registration number (ASR) at the base of one of its towers. To settle this matter, Arctic Slope admitted that it failed to inspect its tower lights and failed to display the correct antenna structure registration number, agreed to implement a compliance plan, and pay a $45,000 civil penalty.
In response to an inquiry from the FCC, Artic Slope stated that in August 2017, an employee notified the Cooperative’s management of its failure to follow requirements for either remote monitoring or daily visual inspections of its tower lighting systems. Specifically, Arctic Slope states that it had failed meet either of these requirements with respect to its three antenna towers at Deadhorse, Nuiqsut, Alaska, Wainwright, Alaska. Based upon the FCC’s record, it appears that Artic Slope did not began to make and document daily visual inspections for these three antenna structures for a year from being first notified of the issue by one of its employees. Finally, Arctic Slope also states that it posted an incorrect ASR number at the antenna structure located in Nuiqsut, Alaska, which has since been corrected.
This situation illustrates the importance of taking corrective action promptly when a deficiency is brought to your attention. Here, the Commission’s rules are clear with respect to the daily inspection of or monitoring of tower lighting as well as displaying the proper ASR number at the base of the tower.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
FCC to Establish Precision Agriculture Task Force
The FCC published notice in the Federal Register of its intent to establish a Federal Advisory Committee, known as the ‘‘Task Force for Reviewing the Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United States’’ (the Task Force). It appears that the Task Force will play at least some role shaping future programs to direct funding to unserved agricultural land.
Specifically, the notice states that the purpose of the Task Force is to:
According to the notice, the FCC intends to establish the Task Force on or before December 19, 2019, with authorization to operate for two years.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, John Prendergast, and Sal Taillefer.
FCC Acts to Bring the 800 MHz Rebanding to a Final Conclusion
The Commission has adopted an order that is designed to streamline its rules and procedures to accelerate the successful conclusion of its 800 MHz band reconfiguration program in a cost-efficient manner. The 800 MHz rebanding, which began in 2004, was designed to enable public safety, critical infrastructure, and other licensees in the band to operate free of the interference that previously plagued first responder communications caused by Sprint and other commercial operators.
The 800 MHz rebanding involved relocating Sprint’s system to the upper end of the 800 MHz band and public safety licensees to the lower end. The Commission required Sprint to pay the relocation costs incurred by public safety and other licensees, in addition to its own relocation costs. The Commission also required Sprint to make an “anti-windfall” payment to the U.S. Treasury if the company’s total rebanding expenses were less than the value of spectrum rights it was awarded in the 1.9 GHz band as part of this initiative. The Commission appointed a Transition Administrator to manage the rebanding program under the Commission’s direction.
The Commission notes that rebanding process is now nearly complete, with only 19 licensees out of more than 2,000 licensees needing to complete the rebanding process. Additionally, the Commission previously determined that no anti-windfall payment would be required, since it had previously determined that Sprint’s rebanding expenses exceeded the value of the 1.9 GHz spectrum it was awarded. As a result, the Commission adopted an order which streamlines certain rules and procedures in order to bring the 800 MHz rebanding process to a close in an expeditious manner.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
FCC Declines to Preempt State and Local Laws that Prohibit Use of Hand Held Devices While Driving
The FCC has denied a Petition for Declaratory Ruling/Rulemaking, which requested a determination that state and local laws that prohibit talking on hand-held communications devices while driving are preempted by federal law to the extent that these laws apply to “all regulated two way radio operators” such as Part 90 private land mobile radios, Part 95 Citizens Band (CB) radios, and Part 97 amateur radios (collectively referred to herein as “two-way radios”). The Petition differentiated between cellular telephone type communications (which are duplex in nature) which can cause distracted driving and two-way radio communications which do not cause distracted driving since those communications are simplex in nature and therefore give the radio operator time to respond. The Petition asserted further that state and local laws prohibiting use of hand-held two-way radios while driving conflict with the federal interest in supporting mobile communications, particularly in the amateur service.
In denying the Petition, the Commission noted that over one third of all states have enacted distracted driving laws which prohibit drivers from talking on hand held communications devices while the vehicle is in motion. Of those, approximately one half of the laws exempt two-way radios. The Commission continued that while there is a strong federal interest in promoting amateur communications, there is no basis for preempting the distracted driving laws described in the Petition. The Commission pointed out that state and local laws may be preempted if: (a) Congress expressly preempted the law in question; (b) Congress, through legislation, clearly indicates its intent to occupy the field of regulation, leaving “no room for the States to supplement;” or (c) the laws “actually conflict” with federal law, such that “compliance with both federal and state regulations is a physical impossibility” or they “stand as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.” The Commission found that these criteria did not apply to state and local distracted driving laws. In reaching this conclusion, the Commission noted that laws which prohibit talking on hand-held communications devices while driving do not preclude or unreasonably obstruct mobile use of hand-held two-way radios. Rather, these laws only apply to the use of hand-held devices while driving. As a result, compliance with these laws can be made by using a hands-free attachment or by parking the vehicle prior to using the hand-held device. Such measures are consistent with the Commission’s Rules concerning the operation of two-way radios; especially since the FCC now permits the use of hands-free headsets. Finally, the Commission concluded that there was no express preemption or argument that Congress has “occupied the field.”
Thus, clients should be cognizant that the use of any hand-held device while operating a motor vehicle, such as a portable two-way radio, could run afoul of state or local law distracted driving laws. That said, even with the use of hands-free devices such as those described above, a claim could still be made that the vehicle operator was distracted if involved in a motor vehicle accident. In light of this, we recommend that our clients consider best practices to minimize the potential for liability arising out of a collision.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
FCC Grants Waiver for Use of Personal Locator Beacon with AIS Functionality
The FCC has granted Ocean Signal Limited’s (“Ocean Signal’s”) request for waiver to permit the authorization and use of a personal locator beacon (“PLB”) that incorporates Automatic Identification System (“AIS”) functionality in compliance with a recently published Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services (RTCM) standard.
A PLB is a small portable transmitter that is intended to provide individuals in remote areas a means to alert others in the event of an emergency and to aid search and rescue personnel to locate those in distress. PLBs transmit a distress signal on the frequency 406 MHz for communication with the Cospas-Sarsat satellite system and a lower-powered signal on frequency 121.5 MHz that is used by search and rescue personnel as a homing beacon to help locate persons in distress. The Commission’s rules require PLBs to conform to the version of the RTCM Standard 111010 that was incorporated by reference into Part 95 of the FCC’s Rules. Subsequent to the FCC’s rule amendment, RTCM published a revision to its standard that permits AIS alerting, in addition to homing on the frequency 121.5 MHz.
In granting the waiver request, the Commission notes that Ocean Signal’s proposed PLB adds AIS position and identity transmission and offers improvements to current PLBs such as interoperability with existing AIS equipment, location technology and identification of persons in distress. Because the Commission agreed with Ocean Signal that application of the Commission’s equipment authorization rules would frustrate the underlying purpose of its rules — which is to promote the public safety, a waiver was granted, subject to US Coast Guard review, to permit the equipment authorization, marketing and use of a PLB with AIS position locating pending the resolution of RTCM’s rule-making petition.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
|LETTERS TO THE EDITOR|
Attached are draft comments that the Blooston law firm is planning to file this Wednesday (10/30) on behalf of its clients objecting to the Commission’s proposed use of e-mail as the sole means of correspondence between the Commission and applicants/licensees. While this is a somewhat innocuous and procedural proposal by the FCC, we believe it could have very harmful consequences for our clients if it is implemented. If the FCC were to transition to an all e-mail system of correspondence and eliminate paper copies served by U.S. Mail, it is foreseeable that a license could be inadvertently canceled, an application dismissed, or the FCC could issue a fine for non-responsiveness, without the licensee’s knowledge, if an important FCC notice were to get caught up in a spam filter, mis-delivered, or otherwise gets lost in the shuffle. Retaining paper mailings and use of USPS as the “official” means of communications is important to protecting our clients substantive and procedural rights.
Please let us know by reply e-mail if your company wishes to support the attached comments, which are due to be filed by Wednesday, October 30th. To encourage broad participation, we will limit the cost for participating clients to $125. [FYI only — sorry this is too late.]
Please let us know if you experience any problems opening the attached file.
To insure continued receipt of information from our firm via email, please have your IT Team "White List" our email address email@example.com
Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP
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