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Welcome Back To The Wireless Messaging News
I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving dinner. At least those readers here in the USA who celebrate this holiday.
For everyone else, best wishes for the weekend.
Oh, there is a very good article with reasons to wait on buying a new Apple iPhone.
Now on to the news and views.
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
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Don't Text “OK”
Nick Douglas Today 9:00AM
If someone asks you a question online or over text, do not respond with “OK.” or “Yes.” You might use “sure” or “yep” without punctuation; you should probably add an exclamation mark. Otherwise you might sound passive aggressive, dismissive, or angry. There’s a good reason for this.
While I thought everyone knew this by now, at least one New York Times reader needed to be told. Advice columnist Caity Weaver (emeritus of our former sister site Gawker) explained that replying with “O.K.” or “K” could come across as rude, and recommended “kk” or “O.K.!” But why?
In person, when you want to say something politely, you say it less efficiently. You “make an extra effort,” says linguist Gretchen McCulloch in her book Because Internet, “using hedges, honorifics, or simply more words: ‘Doctor, could I possibly trouble you to open the window?’ versus ‘Open the window!’” Online, you do the same, with different tactics.
One of those, writes McCulloch, is the exclamation mark. In 2014, the Onion established that only a “stone-hearted ice witch” would send a “great to see you” email with zero exclamation marks. A recent popular Instagram post makes the same point via Baby Yoda screenshot. The necessity of the exclamation mark has carried over to texts, chat, and Slack. Another tactic I’ve used is to replace “yes” with “yep,” or “sure” with “sure thing” — using the casual form of a word to sound less like an android or a cop. Not too far, or the sincerity starts sounding like sarcasm — but pay attention to the ways you say yes in person, and try to imitate those in your messages. You’ll probably notice you use more words in person than you thought, even to say “yes.”
These tiny choices matter when you’re sending tiny messages. In a longer message, you have more options for communicating tone of voice, especially in the actual words you use. In a stock message like “yes,” you have very little room to indicate tone. In person, you use more words, but you also—consciously or not—deliver everything with a tone of voice, facial expression, and body language. If you were to let your face go slack, stand stock still, and say “Yes.” in a tone of finality, it’d be fair to assume that you were being intentionally unfriendly.
Same goes online. If you do want to express blank disdain to someone online, you write formally, use a period to add finality to your words, or make your words as low-effort as possible, to signify you want to waste zero time on this interaction. (Watch people arguing on social media some time.) If you don’t want to sound disdainful, be about 50% nicer than you think you need to.
Weaver writes half-jokingly in her column, “As a woman, I maintain a bustling control center behind my thoughts where everything said to me is parsed for evidence of impending physical threats.” This is true of everyone to some extent: We’re all scanning communication for a potential threat, if only emotional. So if your message can be read as threatening or cold, it will be. (The solo letter “k” is a famously dismissive reply to anything stupid.) To avoid that, inject some warmth.
These customs change over time and across populations. You probably know someone who overdoes the multiple exclamation marks. (It happens all the time in company-wide emails from HR, or other departments that really really need to sound friendly to everyone all the time.) You might find a community of professionals who seem to get along just fine with formal language. But if you’re the most formal one in the group, then believe me: everyone thinks you hate them.
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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NHS told to ditch ‘outdated‘ pagers
Posted by SDD Contributor on November 25, 2019 at 10:04 pm
The NHS has been told to stop using pagers for communications by 2021, in order to save money.
The health service still uses about 130,000 pagers, which is about 10% of the total left in use globally.
They cost the NHS about £6.6m a year, because only one service provider supports them.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock called them “outdated” and said he wanted to rid the NHS of “archaic technology like pagers and fax machines”.
How do pagers work?
The pagers used in the NHS today are mostly one-way communication devices that can receive short messages but cannot send replies. [Two-way pagers do.]
To send a message, staff call either an automated phone line or speak to a dedicated operator.
The recipient‘s pager will beep and display the message or a phone number to call. In order to call back, the recipient must use a mobile phone or find a landline.
Pagers were widely used in the 1980s, before mobile phones and two-way SMS text messages became more popular.
Vodafone ended its national pager service in March 2018. Capita‘s PageOne is the last remaining pager network left in the UK.
Why does the NHS still use pagers?
One doctor told the that the pager system is useful in emergencies, for example if a patient goes into cardiac arrest in a hospital.
Sending an alert to several members of the cardiac arrest team can take less than a minute, which is critical in an emergency situation.
The pager network uses its own transmitters, so messages are typically delivered reliably and quickly.
NHS trusts will be allowed to keep some pagers for emergency situations, for example if the Wi-Fi or mobile networks went offline.
But Mr Hancock said “email and mobile phones” were a “more secure, quicker and cheaper way to communicate”.
“We have to get the basics right, like having computers that work and getting rid of archaic technology like pagers and fax machines,” he said.
In 2017, the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust ran a trial and replaced its pagers with an app called Medic Bleep.
The app let staff message and call one another, individually or in groups, and worked on phones, tablets and desktop computers.
The Department of Health and Social Care described it as “similar to WhatsApp” but with enhanced security, and said it had saved doctors time.
The Trust is now “weeks away” from removing non-emergency pagers at its main hospital.
An investigation in 2018 found that the NHS was still sending documents from around 9,000 fax machines, which Mr Hancock also hopes to phase out.
|Source:||Stock Daily Dish|
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.
SDG Counties shoots down region-wide radio network project
Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Counties Council has decided against pursuing a county-wide radio communication and paging network project, which would have upgraded SDG’s ageing radio infrastructure.
Elected officials had been pondering the idea of replacing their increasingly outdated radio systems for several months, before ultimately pulling the plug on the project during their Nov. 18 meeting.
According to a report issued by the counties’ IT department, several of the six municipalities would be in future need of upgrades to existing radio infrastructure and user gear, with North Stormont requiring an immediate need.
“What we’re looking for today,” started SDG Counties IT director Mike St-Onge, “is to have a discussion about the future of this project. Today really, we’re not asking for anything other than what is council’s interest the project and what would the next step be, if you choose to pursue it.”
An estimate for a radio and paging network was provided by the same vendor that implemented the radio communication and paging network for the United Counties of Prescott and Russell. The counties’ report stated that the project would cost taxpayers approximately $1,929,000, with $1,100,000 going to infrastructure and $820,000 going to radios and pagers.
“Based on the assessment of current systems and desired future functionality, the recommendation from the study is to proceed with a common digital mobile radio communication and paging network,” said St-Onge.
The estimate of the overall project did not sit well with some councillors, one of them being coun. Allan Armstrong. The latter voiced his concerns regarding the overall price of the project, which he sees as being quite high, for a service that might not be used often.
“When we’re talking about the big range estimate we have here, we’re talking about nearly $2.2 million to fix issues which, not for the most part, are immediate needs,” said coun. Armstrong. “These are needs that would obviously help with the way things are being done now. But, things that the network would pick up are situations that rarely, if ever, would happen, where we would need a county-wide conversation.”
He also pointed to the fact that each individual municipality currently has its own emergency preparedness plan.
“If such a situation would arise, where we would need a county-wide response, all of our emergency preparedness plans would have operators already on site. It would be a nice addition to have, and I don’t want to downgrade that. But we’re looking at non-stop requests to fund things like mental health services and two manors that have immediate needs. We’re going to have to say no to some people. $2 million is a significant amount for something that is currently functioning.”
Council voted against pursuing a next step in the project.
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
Microsoft says new Dexphot malware infected more than 80,000 computers
Dexphot's main purpose was to silently mine crypto-currency and generate revenue for the attackers.
By Catalin Cimpanu for Zero Day | November 26, 2019 — 17:00 GMT (09:00 PST) | Topic: Security
Microsoft security engineers detailed today a new malware strain that has been infecting Windows computers since October 2018 to hijack their resources to mine crypto-currency and generate revenue for the attackers.
Named Dexphot, this malware reached its peak in mid-June this year, when its botnet reached almost 80,000 infected computers.
Since then, the number of daily infections has been slowly going down, as Microsoft claims it deployed countermeasures to improve detections and stop attacks.
A COMPLEX MALWARE STRAIN FOR A MUNDANE TASK
But while Doxphot's end goal was banal, the methods and techniques for its modus operandi stood out due to their high level of complexity, something that Microsoft also noticed.
"Dexphot is not the type of attack that generates mainstream media attention," said Hazel Kim, a malware analyst for the Microsoft Defender ATP Research Team, referring to the malware's mundane task of mining crypto-currency, rather than stealing user data.
"It's one of the countless malware campaigns that are active at any given time. Its goal is a very common one in cyber-criminal circles — to install a coin miner that silently steals computer resources and generates revenue for the attackers," Kim said.
"Yet Dexphot exemplifies the level of complexity and rate of evolution of even everyday threats, intent on evading protections and motivated to fly under the radar for the prospect of profit."
In a report shared with ZDNet that's scheduled to go live later today, Kim details Dexphot's advanced techniques, such as the use of fileless execution, polymorphic techniques, and smart and redundant boot persistence mechanisms.
According to Microsoft, Dexphot is what security researchers call a second-stage payload — a type of malware that's dropped on systems that are already infected by other malware.
In this case, Dexphot was being dropped on computers that were previously infected with ICLoader, a malware strain that's usually side-installed as part of software bundles, without the user's knowledge, or when users downloaded and installed cracked or pirated software.
On some of these ICLoader-infected systems, the ICLoader gang would download and run the Dexphot installer.
Microsoft says this installer would be the only part of the Dexphot malware that would be written to disk, but only for a short period of time. Every other Dexphot file or operation would use a technique known as fileless execution to run inside the computer's memory only, making the malware's presence on a system invisible to classic signature-based antivirus solutions.
Furthermore, Dexphot would also employ a technique called "living off the land" (or LOLbins) to (ab)use legitimate Windows processes to execute malicious code, rather than run its own executables and processes.
For example, Microsoft says Dexphot would regularly abuse msiexec.exe, unzip.exe, rundll32.exe, schtasks.exe, and powershell.exe, all legitimate apps that come pre-installed on Windows systems. By using these processes to start and run malicious code, Dexphot effectively became indistinguishable from other local apps that were also using these Windows utilities to do their jobs.
But Dexphot operators didn't stop here. Because in recent years antivirus products have been using cloud-based systems to inventory and centralize patterns of malicious fileless execution and LOLbins abuse, Dexphot also employed a technique called polymorphism.
This technique refers to malware that constantly changes its artifacts. According to Microsoft, Dexphot operators changed the file names and URLs used in the infection process once every 20-30 minutes.
By the time an antivirus vendor would detect a pattern in Dexphot's infection chain, that pattern would change, and allow the Dexphot gang to stay a step ahead of cyber-security products.
MULTI-LAYERED PERSISTENCE MECHANISMS
But no malware stays undetected forever, and even in these cases, the Dexphot gang had planned ahead.
Microsoft says that Dexphot came with clever persistence mechanisms that would often re-infect systems that were not cleaned of all of the malware's artifacts.
For the first, the malware used a technique called process hollowing to start two legitimate processes (svchost.exe and nslookup.exe), hollow their content, and run malicious code from within them.
Disguised as legitimate Windows processes, these two Dexphot components would keep an eye out that all the malware's components were up and running, and reinstall the malware if one of them were stopped. Because there were two "monitoring" processes, even if system administrators or antivirus software removed one, the second would serve as a backup and re-infect the system later on.
Second, also working as a failsafe, Dexphot also used a series of scheduled tasks to make sure the victim is fileslessly reinfected after every reboot, or once every 90 or 110 minutes.
Because the tasks were scheduled to run at regular intervals, they also served as a way for the Dexphot gang to deliver updates to all infected systems.
According to Microsoft, every time one of these tasks ran, it downloaded a file from an attacker's server, allowing the attacker to modify this file with updated instructions for all of the Dexphot infected hosts and update their entire botnet within hours after an antivirus vendor deployed any countermeasures.
Further, Microsoft says that polymorphism was also used for these tasks, with the Dexphot gang changing task names at regular intervals. This simple trick allowed the malware to skirt any blocklists that blocked scheduled tasks by their names.
As Microsoft's Kim pointed out above, all of these techniques are terribly complicated. One would normally expect these types of redundancies to be found in the infection chains for malware developed by advanced government-backed hacking units.
However, in the last two years, these techniques have been slowly trickling down to cyber-criminal gangs, and are now pretty much a common occurrence in something as mundane as a crypto-currency mining operation like Dexphot, infostealers like Astaroth, or click-fraud operations like Nodersok.
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.
Nov 28, 2019, 08:35pm
Forget Apple’s iPhone 11, This Is The Smartphone To Buy [Updated]
Gordon Kelly, Senior Contributor
Apple’s iPhone 11 range is, arguably, 2019’s best smartphone line-up in what has been a very disappointing and, at times, very stupid year. But it still has one massive shortcoming and now we know what is going to plug it.
In a new research note attained by the ever-excellent 9to5Mac, acclaimed Apple insider Mind-Ch Kuo has reiterated his claim that Apple will introduce 5G across the 2020 iPhone range while revealing it will not be any old 5G implementation.
11/28 Update: ETNews reports Apple will also improve the displays in its 2020 iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max by adopting Samsung's Y-OCTA screen technology. Y-OCTA removes the need for a separate touch-sensitive layer, making the displays thinner and lighter but no less durable. Apple's 2019 iPhones were tipped to get this tech, but it slipped to 2020. Samsung has been using Y-OCTA in its own phones since the Galaxy S9.
Kuo explains that Apple will equip all its upcoming 5G iPhones with support for both mmWave and sub-6GHz bands. A move which is particularly well suited to the wide variety of bands used in 5G installations across the US, and something which future proofs the phone as the next-gen network continues to roll out.
Building on this, Kuo also explains that Apple will introduce superior Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) antenna designs in the 2020 iPhones to boost cell phone signal. LCP first appeared in the iPhone X, but Apple has only ever fitted a single LCP unit whereas the 2020 iPhones will have three.
Such a move would see Apple continue its welcome focus on nailing the basics. This year, the iPhone 11 series made class-leading camera and battery life improvements but iPhones continue to have cellular performance issues, which may now become a thing of the past.
Furthermore, this is the start. Thanks to insiders, including Kuo, we already know how Apple will change the 2020 iPhone’s design, offer new screen sizes, introduce 120Hz ProMotion displays, ditch the Lightning port, reintroduce Touch ID and add a long-range 3D camera.
Kuo’s big warning is Apple may introduce higher prices to compensate for all these new features. But given the large Black Friday iPhone discounts available right now, it looks like we won’t have to wait long after Apple launches these phones to make some major savings.
Inside Towers has you to thank first and foremost for not only our livelihood but for making this job so enjoyable by providing us your feedback and support throughout the year. From CEO’s to tower crew members to trade industry captains, we rely on your comments, critiques, insights and encouragement in helping to “hold a mirror up to this industry,” to (sort of) quote Shakespeare.
As we all go our separate ways over the next few days, we hope it is not just a relaxing sojourn away from the office but a reflective time to enjoy and truly appreciate friends and family and, of course, food. I’ve asked our staff to share some personal and industry-related thanks. I’ll start:
|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.
Auction 103 Starts Dec. 10.
Participants in Auction 103 (the 39 GHz auction) should have received their SecurID bidding tokens for each of the authorized bidders directly from the FCC. Once the bidding system is turned up (at noon ET on Wednesday, December 4th), each bidder will need to “activate” the SecurID tokens by assigning a Password and 4-digit PIN that they will use to access the bidding system. The web site address for the clock-phase bidding system is: https://auctions.fcc.gov/103. The “mock auction” practice session will be held on Thursday morning, December 5th, and actual bidding will begin on the morning of December 10.
FCC Adopts Order Protecting National Security, Restricting Use of Huawei and ZTE Equipment
In an effort to safeguard the security and integrity of the nation’s communications networks, the Federal Communications Commission has barred use of its $8.5 billion a year Universal Service Fund (USF) to purchase equipment and services from companies that pose a national security threat. The Order initially designates Huawei Technologies Company and ZTE Corp. as companies covered by this rule and establishes a process for designating additional covered companies in the future. The Order also establishes a certification and audit regime to enforce the new rule.
In an accompanying Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted today, the FCC is proposing to require carriers receiving USF funds, to remove and replace existing equipment and services from covered companies. This could adversely affect rural carriers that have invested substantial sums in equipment from these companies. The Further Notice also seeks comment on how to pay for such removal and replacement. And to aid in the design of a removal and replacement program, the FCC will conduct an information collection to determine the extent to which eligible telecommunications carriers have equipment from Huawei and ZTE in their networks and the costs associated with removing and replacing such equipment.
The FCC and the Administration are concerned that telecom networks are vulnerable to various forms of surveillance and attack that can lead to denial of service, and loss of integrity and confidentiality of network services. As carriers upgrade their networks to 5G technology, there is a risk that secret “backdoors” in the networks will enable a hostile foreign power to engage in espionage, inject malware, or steal Americans’ data.
The FCC indicates that both Huawei and ZTE have close ties to the Chinese government and military apparatus and are subject to Chinese laws requiring them to assist with espionage, a threat recognized by other federal agencies and the governments of other nations. The public funds in the FCC’s USF, which subsidizes U.S. broadband deployment and service through four separate programs, must not endanger national security through the purchase of equipment from companies posing a national security risk.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Mary Sisak, and Sal Taillefer.
FCC Proposes to Modernize Unbundling and Resale Rules
On November 22, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a Notice of Proposed Rule Making proposing to eliminate or reduce outdated phone company network unbundling and resale requirements that “may be unnecessary for—and detrimental to—facilities-based competition.”
The Commission adopted the unbundling/resale requirements to implement the market-opening provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. But the communications landscape has transformed since then: LECs have gone from monopolists to providing only 12% of all voice service subscriptions across all technologies. And in the broadband marketplace, incumbent LECs are just one of many intermodal competitors, providing only 20% of residential broadband subscriptions at or above 25/3 Mbps. Legacy copper voice services now face competition from cable, voice over Internet protocol, fixed wireless, and mobile wireless services, and 5G wireless services promise to revolutionize the way consumers access broadband. Where this competition exists, there may no longer be a need to require incumbent LECs to unbundle, or share, elements of their legacy networks with competitors at regulated rates.
The FCC notes that these network sharing obligations can reduce the incentives of incumbent and competitive carriers to deploy, and transition to, next-generation networks and services. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted by the Commission today seeks comment on proposals to eliminate and/or reduce requirements to provide the following unbundled network elements:
DS1 and DS3 Loops—These legacy last-mile lines are used largely by business customers and are being eclipsed by higher-speed packet-based services sold by incumbent LECs, competitive LECs, cable providers, and other intermodal competitors.
DS0 Loops—These network elements are typically used to provide both voice and broadband service using various DSL technologies. Recognizing the low and falling barriers to entry that competitors face in providing broadband in urban areas, the Notice proposes to eliminate DS0 loop unbundling obligations in urban census blocks. However, the Notice proposes to still require unbundling of such loops in rural areas, where there may be greater barriers to facilities-based deployment.
Legacy Narrowband Voice-Grade Loops—These network elements are used to provide voice service and have no broadband service capability. In light of the migration by consumers and businesses away from legacy voice services in favor of IP-and wireless based voice services provided by multiple intermodal providers, the Notice proposes to remove unbundling obligations for narrowband voice-grade loops nationwide.
Dark Fiber Transport—Unbundled transport provides a connection between phone companies’ wire centers in a local service area. Consistent with the relief that the FCC granted earlier this year from DS1 and DS3 transport unbundling requirements, the Notice proposes to grant relief from dark fiber transport unbundling requirements where competitive fiber exists within one-half mile of a wire center. The Notice also proposes to grant non-price cap incumbent LECs relief from the requirement that they resell their retail legacy telecommunications services at statutorily prescribed rates. The FCC granted large, price-cap incumbent LECs this relief earlier this year.
Finally, the Notice proposes a three-year transition period to give existing customers served via these unbundling and resale obligations time to transition to alternative arrangements without service disruption.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Benjamin H. Dickens and Mary J Sisak.
FCC Adopts Rules for Transmitting Vertical, or ‘Z-Axis,’ Location Information with Wireless 911 Calls
The Federal Communications Commission on November 22 adopted a Fifth Report and Order and Fifth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 19-124) to implement rules to help first responders locate people who call 911 from wireless phones in multi-story buildings. The rules will help emergency responders determine the floor level of a 911 caller, which will reduce emergency response times and ultimately save lives.
The rules require wireless providers to meet an increasingly stringent series of location accuracy benchmarks in accordance with a timetable, including providing the caller’s dispatchable location, such as the street address and apartment number, or coordinate-based vertical location on a phased-in basis beginning in April 2021.
Today’s Order adopts a vertical, or z-axis, location accuracy metric of plus or minus three meters relative to the handset for 80% of indoor wireless 911 calls in the top 25 markets by April 2021 and the top 50 markets by April 2023. Application of the 3-meter metric will apply to all handsets that have the capability to support vertical location, regardless of technology, not just new handsets or barometric pressure sensor capable handsets. We thus clarify that a device will be considered “z-axis capable” so long as it can measure and report vertical location without a hardware upgrade. Thus, devices that can be modified to support vertical location by means of a firmware or software upgrade will be considered z-axis capable. Non-nationwide CMRS providers that serve any of the top 25 or 50 Cellular Market Areas will have an additional year to meet these benchmarks. Non-nationwide CMRS providers that do not serve these larger CMAs would not be required to meet vertical location standards under current FCC rules. This accuracy metric — within three meters above or below the phone—will more accurately identify the floor level for most 911 calls and is achievable, keeping the deployment of vertical location information to public safety officials on schedule.
In addition, given the likelihood that vertical location technology will continue to improve, the Commission is also seeking comment on establishing a long-term timeline for even more stringent vertical location accuracy, including ultimately requiring wireless providers to deliver the caller’s specific floor level.
The FCC indicates that a broad cross-section of public safety organizations — including the International Association of Fire Fighters, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Association of State EMS Officials, the National Sheriffs’ Association, NENA: The 9-1-1 Association, and the National Association of State 911 Administrators — as well as numerous vendors and wireless providers supported the three-meter vertical location accuracy metric adopted today, agreeing that it is technically feasible and will benefit public safety.
However, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) has indicated that the new 911 location regulations “fail the citizens of the United States,” echoing FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel’s concerns that vertical location information will not be useful to public safety. APCO had advocated that any Z-axis rules require wireless carriers to provide at least floor-level location information.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Cary Mitchell.
FCC Adopts Proposed Measures at November Open Meeting
The FCC took the following actions at its November 22 Open Commission Meeting:
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
FCC Announces Official Agenda for December Open Meeting
On November 21, the FCC announced that the following items are tentatively on the agenda for the November Open Commission Meeting, currently scheduled for December 12:
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
JANUARY 15: HAC REPORTING DEADLINE. At this time, the next Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC) reporting deadline for digital commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) providers (including carriers that provide service using AWS-1 spectrum and resellers of cellular, broadband PCS and/or AWS services) is January 15, 2019. The FCC is considering an item at its November 2018 meeting that may impact this requirement. As of today, non-Tier I service providers must offer to consumers at least 50 percent of the handset models per air interface, or a minimum of ten handset models per air interface, that meet or exceed the M3 rating, and at least one-third of the handset models per air interface, or a minimum of ten handset models per air interface, that meet or exceed the T3 rating. Month-to-month handset offering information provided in annual reports must be current through the end of 2018. With many of our clients adjusting their handset offerings and making new devices available to customers throughout the year, it is very easy for even the most diligent carriers to stumble unknowingly into a non-compliance situation, resulting in fines starting at $15,000 for each HAC-enabled handset they are deficient. Following the T-Mobile USA Notice of Apparent Liability (FCC 12-39), the FCC’s enforcement policy calls for multiplying the $15,000 per-handset fine by the number of months of the deficiency, creating the potential for very steep fines. It is therefore crucial that our clients pay close attention to their HAC regulatory compliance, and monthly checks are strongly recommended. In this regard, we have prepared a HAC reporting template to assist our clients in keeping track of their HAC handset offerings, and other regulatory compliance efforts. ALL SERVICE PROVIDERS SUBJECT TO THE FCC’S HAC RULES — INCLUDING COMPANIES THAT QUALIFY FOR THE DE MINIMIS EXCEPTION — MUST PARTICIPATE IN ANNUAL HAC REPORTING.
To the extent that your company is a provider of broadband PCS, cellular and/or interconnected SMR services, if you are a CMRS reseller and/or if you have plans to provide CMRS using newly licensed (or partitioned) AWS or 700 MHz spectrum, you and your company will need to be familiar with the FCC’s revised rules.
BloostonLaw contacts: John Prendergast, Cary Mitchell, and Sal Taillefer.
Louis T. Fiore Inducted into Radio Club of America
On November 23, Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) Chairman Louis T. Fiore was inducted as a Fellow of the Radio Club of America in New York, New York. The firm works extensively with Mr. Fiore, and congratulates him on this significant achievement.
Mr. Fiore is the past chairman of the SIA's Security Industry Standards Council (SISC) and a longtime member of the Supervising Station Committee of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 72, chairing its transmission task group. He is also a member of various Underwriters Laboratories' Standards Technical Panels and a former member of NFPA's Premises Security Committee (NFPA 730 & 731). He is also past president of the Central Station Alarm Association (now The Monitoring Association), and a widely recognized expert in alarm security industry.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Ben Dickens.
Comments on 800 MHz Band Rulemaking Due December 16
On November 14, the FCC published in the Federal Register its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in WT Docket No. 02-55, originally, released on October 28, in which it seeks comment on certain aspects of the Commission’s 800 MHz band reconfiguration program, or rebanding. Comments are due December 16, and reply comments are due December 30.
Specifically, the FCC seeks comment on eliminating the annual audit of the rebanding program and relieving the 800 MHz Transition Administrator of the responsibility to review and approve amendments to licensee Frequency Reconfiguration Agreements — the contracts between Sprint and licensees for rebanding of licensees’ systems, with respect to cost creditability. According to the FCC, taking these steps in the final stage of the rebanding program will lower program costs and administrative burdens and expedite completion of the rebanding process without adversely affecting full achievement of the program’s goals.
The 800 MHz rebanding initiative is a 14-year, $3.6 billion program, involving Sprint Corporation (Sprint) and 800 MHz licensees. The initiative was implemented o alleviate harmful interference to 800 MHz public safety radio systems (and other high-site, non-cellular systems operating in the 800 MHz band). The interference was caused by their proximity to the cellular-architecture multi-cell systems — primarily Sprint’s commercial “Enhanced” Specialized Mobile Radio system — also authorized to operate in that band. To increase the spectral separation between the high-site, non-cellular systems (primarily public safety) and the cellular-based systems like Sprint’s, the Commission adopted a plan backed by Sprint and others, which required the relocation of the bulk of Sprint’s system, as well as the systems of other cellular-based licensees in the band, to spectrum at the upper end of the band, and the relocation of the public safety and other high-site, non-cellular licensees, to spectrum at the lower end of the band.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino.
Chairman Pai Announces Membership, First Meeting of Precision Agriculture Task Force
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has announced the membership and first meeting date of the new task force assigned to explore ways to enhance the productivity and efficiency of the nation’s farms and ranches through broadband-based technologies — a.k.a. “precision agriculture.” Construction of wireless precision agriculture networks, and provision of high-capacity backhaul services to support these systems, should be viewed as significant current and future business opportunities, and an application for 5G wireless that is targeted to rural areas.
Specifically, the first meeting of the Task Force for Reviewing Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture is set for Monday, December 9, at 9:30 a.m. Chairman Pai has designated Teddy Bekele, Land O’Lakes Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, to serve as Chair of the Task Force, and Catherine Moyer, Pioneer Communications Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, to serve as Vice Chair, among others.
“There is an urgent and growing demand for broadband from America’s farmers and ranchers,” said Chairman Pai. “As I’ve seen for myself in places like Rifle, Colorado, King Hill, Idaho, and Charles City, Virginia, farmers and ranchers are using connected technologies to collect real-time data in the field, make the most efficient use of resources like water, fuel, and seed, and increase yields, all to the benefit of American consumers. Making modern networks available from coast to coast is the FCC’s top priority. The Task Force’s recommendations and reports will enable us to help America’s food producers deliver more, better, and cheaper goods to the table.”
The Task Force is a federal advisory committee and was created by the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, which includes provisions directing the FCC to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop policy recommendations to promote the rapid, expanded deployment of broadband Internet access service on agricultural land where service is not available. Federal advisory committees were established by Congress to provide federal agencies with outside, expert advice on policy matters.”
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Cary Mitchell.
FCC Grants Waiver to Allow Land Based Use of High Seas Marine Frequencies by First Responders and Federal Government During Disasters
ShipCom, LLC (ShipCom) and Global HF Net, LLC (GHFN) (collectively, Petitioners) requested a waiver of section 80.123 of the Commission's Rules to permit them to provide service to land-based (base and mobile) Public Safety and Federal Government entities on high frequency (HF) public coast frequencies when normal communications systems are not available to such entities during disasters.
While Rule Section 80.123 permits very high frequency (VHF) public coast stations to provide service to units on land under certain conditions, the FCC’s Rules do not allow HF public coast stations to provide this service. In 2009, ShipCom, an HF public coast station licensee, requested a waiver of section 80.123 to allow it to provide service to land units operated by Public Safety entities when normal communications systems are not available. At the time of its initial request, which did not include Federal Government agencies, ShipCom stated that it had received requests from Public Safety entities to provide an emergency watch-keeping service on HF frequencies that would enable these entities to make contact with the “outside world” in the event of a natural or man-made disaster that rendered their normal communications infrastructure inoperable. ShipCom proposed to notify the Commission of the Public Safety entities with which it made arrangements for such service and to comply with all of the conditions in Rule Section 80.123 (including the requirement that priority be afforded to marine-originating communications), except for the limit on antenna height of land units.
The request was granted by the FCC in 2010 upon the conclusion that the limited use of HF maritime spectrum would enhance public safety during catastrophes. The waiver permits service to land-based (base and mobile) Public Safety stations on HF frequencies in the event of a natural or man-made disaster that renders the normal communications infrastructure inoperable, and for limited testing and training necessary to familiarize personnel with how to operate the equipment and make sure it is operable.
In 2017, ShipCom and GHFN, which are commonly owned, requested that the waiver be extended to GHFN and that the waiver be amended to permit both ShipCom and GHFN to provide service to land-based stations owned or operated by Federal Government entities as well as entities that are eligible to use Public Safety Pool frequencies.
In reviewing the waiver request, the FCC concluded the requested waiver would be consistent with the purpose of Rule Section 80.123 — which is to ensure that internationally allocated maritime spectrum is preserved for maritime use. In this circumstance, the FCC recognized that the potential for interference to maritime communications was not present, since service to units on land would only be provided during disasters and that priority would nonetheless be given to marine communications. Further, the FCC noted that the public interest would be served because it would allow emergency back-up communications for Federal entities as well as non-Federal first responders, where a catastrophic event disrupts normal local wired and wireless communications.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino.
FCC Poised to Adopt 3-Meter Vertical Accuracy for Indoor 911 Calls
Because of challenges placed upon first responders when attempting to locate callers in multi-story or multi-use buildings, the FCC is planning to adopt, as part of its ongoing efforts to improve location information for indoor 911 callers, a 911 vertical location (or “z-axis”) accuracy standard that would help 911 call centers/public safety answering points (PSAPS) and first responders more accurately determine the floor of a multi-story building in which a caller is located. This is particularly important in urban and even suburban areas.
The standard will require the vertical location of 911 callers to be within plus or minus 3 meters for 80% of wireless 911 calls in the top 25 markets by April 2021 and the top 50 markets by April 2023. Non-nationwide CMRS providers that serve any of the top 25 or 50 Cellular Market Areas will have an additional year to meet these benchmarks. Non-nationwide CMRS providers that do not serve these larger CMAs would not be required to meet vertical location standards under current FCC rules.
In 2015, the FCC adopted comprehensive rules to improve location accuracy for 911 wireless calls made from indoor locations. These rules established benchmarks and deadlines for wireless carriers to provide either (1) dispatchable location (generally, street address plus floor, apartment, or suite), or (2) coordinate-based location information to assist first responders in locating 911 callers. The FCC established accuracy metrics for horizontal location (x/y axis) information, but it deferred a decision on adopting a vertical location (z-axis) metric pending further testing. It required the nationwide CMRS providers to test and develop a proposed z-axis accuracy metric and submit the proposed metric to the FCC for approval by August 3, 2018.
In March 2019, based on a CTIA independent test bed involving two vendors, NextNav and Polaris Wireless, and using technology that relies upon barometric sensors inside smartphones to provide information that could be used to calculate a caller’s vertical location, the FCC proposed a z-axis location accuracy metric of plus or minus 3 meters for 80 percent of indoor wireless E911 calls. Public safety agencies have expressed support for a plus-or-minus 2-meter rule, which would more accurately place a caller on a specific floor and even in a specific apartment.
The draft E911 location accuracy Fifth Report and Order that the FCC is poised to adopt later this month concludes that a 3-meter metric will bring real public safety benefits and is technically feasible in the near term. In the Stage Z test bed, NextNav’s technology was accurate within 1.8 meters or better for 80% of indoor fixes and 3 meters or better for 94% of indoor fixes. Polaris can also achieve accuracy within 2.8 meters for 80% of test calls by using additional available location data to recalibrate and refine its Stage Z data. The record also suggests that other technological options for vertical location accuracy are emerging, and the market is driving innovation in location accuracy technology for E911.
The Fifth Report and Order does not address the alternative “dispatchable location” compliance standard, which some technologies hope to achieve through the use of managed Wi-Fi access points and Bluetooth beacons inside buildings. Dispatchable location has been called the “Holy Grail” of location accuracy for 911 dispatchers, but in order to support such a solution, carriers will need to deploy tens of millions of access points and beacons to provide sufficient density of reference points that are dispersed throughout a CMA. Further complicating this solution is the question of backup power to these access points, since commercial power can be interrupted during many types of emergencies, as well as privacy and data security issues that arise with management of a database that correlates the media access control (“MAC”) address of each beacon with a dispatchable location. The MAC address is a unique identifier assigned to a network interface controller for use as a network address for communications within a segment of a network, and is common in most IEEE 802 networking technologies, including Ethernet, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. To the extent any of our law firm’s clients may provide mobile wireless service in any top 50 CMAs, the FCC has observed that both NextNav and Polaris have software-based solutions. Thus, if carriers choose either of these solutions, hardware upgrades to handsets should not be required, and solutions can be implemented by means of software modifications that are readily achievable ahead of the 2021 compliance deadline.
With respect to z-axis requirements for E911 location accuracy nationwide, a Further NPRM issued as part of the Fifth Report and Order seeks comment on the possible nationwide deployment of Z-axis technology, which would result in a nationwide x, y and z location accuracy standard. The Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) has previously urged the FCC to implement “a glide path for non-nationwide carriers to comply with any adopted time frames, particularly if those carriers operate outside the top 50 markets.” Comments on the FNPRM will be due 30 days from the publication date of the item in the Federal Register.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast, Cary Mitchell and Richard Rubino.
FCC Fines Unlicensed Operation in the 3650-3700 MHz Band
The FCC has issued an Order resolving its investigation into whether NE Colorado Cellular, Inc. dba Viaero Wireless (Viaero) operated an unregistered base station without authorization in the 3650-3700 MHz band. Viaero admitted that it operated an unregistered base station without authorization, will implement a compliance plan, and will pay a $16,000 civil penalty.
The investigation was the result of received a complaint of harmful interference near Kersey, Colorado to licensed and registered base stations operating in the 3650-3700 MHz band. On February 13, 2018, an agent from the Bureau’s Denver Field Office began investigating the complaint. Using direction-finding techniques, the agent determined that the source of the interference was a transmission by Viaero from a communications tower with FCC Antenna Structure Registration #1278898, near Kersey, Colorado (Kersey Location).
In response to the FCC’s notice of violation, Viaero stated that “on or about February 12, 2018, Viaero's operations team, working on the incorrect assumption that the Kersey Location had already been registered, conducted periodic testing at the Kersey Location that continued through February 13, 2018.” It also states that it failed to coordinate with other licensees prior to this testing. Further, Viaero stated that on March 29, 2018, it registered the Kersey Location and that it would commence operations only after it completed frequency coordination with other licensees to ensure that no harmful interference would happen in the future.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino.
Office of Management and Budget Seeks Comment on Various FCC Information Collection Requirements Affecting Public Coast, Land Mobile Operations
Clients affected by the rules under re-examination may want to weigh in on whether they should be maintained.
Title: Section 90.179, Shared Use of Radio Stations. (Comments are Due December 16, 2019)
The Commission was directed by the United States Congress, in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, to dedicate 2.4 MHz of electromagnetic spectrum in the 746-806 MHz band for public safety services. Section 90.179 requires that Part 90 licensees that share use of their private land mobile radio facility on non-profit, cost-sharing basis to prepare and keep a written sharing agreement as part of the station records. Regardless of the method of sharing, an up-to-date list of persons who are sharing the station and the basis of their eligibility under Part 90 must be maintained. The requirement is necessary to identify users of the system should interference problems develop. This information is used by the Commission to investigate interference complaints and resolve interference and operational complaints that may arise among the users.
Title: Section 80.409, Station Logs (Maritime Services). (Comments are Due December 16, 2019)
Section 80.409(c), Public Coast Station Logs: This requirement is necessary to document the operation and public correspondence of public coast radio telegraph, public coast radiotelephone stations, and Alaska public-fixed stations, including the logging of distress and safety calls where applicable. Entries must be made giving details of all work performed which may affect the proper operation of the station. Logs must be retained by the licensee for a period of two years from the date of entry, and, where applicable, for such additional periods such as logs relating to a distress situation or disaster must be retained for three years from the date of entry in the log. If the Commission has notified the licensee of an investigation, the related logs must be retained until the licensee is specifically authorized in writing to destroy them. Logs relating to any claim or complaint of which the station licensee has notice must be retained until the claim or complaint has been satisfied or barred by statute limiting the time for filing suits upon such claims.
Section 80.409(d), Ship Radiotelegraph Logs: Logs of ship stations which are compulsorily equipped for radiotelegraphy and operating in the band 90 to 535 kHz must contain specific information in log entries according to this subsection.
Section 80.409(e), Ship Radiotelephone Logs: Logs of ship stations which are compulsorily equipped for radiotelephony must contain specific information in applicable log entries and the time of their occurrence.
Title: Section 80.605, U.S. Coast Guard Coordination. (Comments are Due January 13, 2020)
The information collection requirements contained in Section 80.605 are necessary because applicants are required to obtain written permission from the Coast Guard in the area where radio-navigation/radio-location devices are located. This rule ensures that no hazard to marine navigation will result from the grant of applications for non-selectable transponders and shore based radio-navigation aids. The Coast Guard is responsible for making this determination under 14 U.S.C. 18. Section 308(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 308(b) mandates that the Commission have such facts before it to determine whether an application should be granted or denied. The potential hazard to navigation is a critical factor in determining whether this type of radio device should be authorized.
BloostonLaw Comments: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino.
FCC Plays Hardball with Public Safety Entities’ Construction Efforts
Over the past month, the FCC has issued two orders resolving Petitions for Reconsideration of FCC proposals to terminate license authorizations for failure to construct. Under the FCC’s Rules, licensees have one year to construct and place private land mobile stations into operation and 18 months to construct and place microwave stations into service. Additionally, wireless licensees are required to notify the FCC of the station construction no later than 15 calendar days following the construction deadline. Finally, if a licensee is not able to complete construction within the required construction time-frame and it would like to seek an extension, the extension request must be filed prior to the expiration of the construction period and must demonstrate that the failure to complete construction prior to the end of the construction period is due to reasons beyond the licensee’s control.
In the recent cases, Etowah County Communications District E-911 and El Paso County, Colorado filed petitions for reconsideration of the FCC’s proposal to terminate their respective license authorizations for failure to construct within the time period specified on the face of the license. In Etowah County’s case, the petition was filed approximately two weeks after the filing deadline for petitions for reconsideration (which is 30 days following the issuance of a Public Notice seeking termination of the license). El Paso County timely filed its petition for reconsideration — which demonstrated that certain facilities had been timely constructed, but that one location had not been constructed. With respect to the unconstructed facility, El Paso County requested additional time to complete construction.
The FCC dismissed Etowah County’s petition as untimely, since it was filed more than 30 days after the issuance of the public notice seeking termination of the County’s license. With respect to El Paso County, the FCC granted the petition with respect to the facilities that had been timely constructed, thereby reinstating the license with respect to those facilities. With regard to the facility that had not been constructed, the FCC denied the petition and dismissed the extension request, since the extension request had been filed after the expiration of the construction period.
These two cases demonstrate the importance of ensuring that the FCC is notified of your facility construction activities in a timely manner. We recommend that you notify us promptly after any facility is constructed so that we can prepare the necessary construction notification for your review. If you have multiple facilities under the same license, please let us know as each facility is constructed so that it is not inadvertently overlooked.
Finally, if you determine that you will not be able to meet the construction deadline, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can assist you in the preparation of the necessary extension request. In this regard, it is important to note that the FCC does not routinely grant extensions of time. Additionally, you will need to demonstrate (a) due diligence by ordering your equipment no later than 60 days after the grant of the license and (b) that the reason for the extension is for reasons beyond your control. The FCC has made clear that circumstances within the control of the licensee — such as budgetary and transactions — will generally not justify the grant of an extension of time.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino.
|LETTERS TO THE EDITOR|
Hi Brad –
I’ve been receiving your newsletter for years, and while I don’t have the chance to read it every time, I do usually scroll through to see what captures my interest. By the way, I appreciate you providing this service. It has pointed me to various vendors over the years.
I like that you put the News Headlines right up front — a quick glimpse of what is inside.
The only thing I don’t like is that the link to the newsletter is not always obvious to me — it’s at the end of the headlines, and it is only four letters long, and the font blends in with the rest of the text.
In other words — I have to hunt for the link! I’m a fairly heavy Internet user, a busy guy, and if I have to hunt for it, no doubt others have to as well.
Now, I’m not one to tell you what to do . . . but would you consider highlighting the link somehow — a different font, or color, or text size? If it were me, I would also make your header “The Wireless Messaging News” a link as well — that way I could just click on the big bold title and get straight to the newsletter.
As you know, many of us radio squirrels are aging, and I’d be afraid that a user who is not quite as computer savvy (or just impatient) would miss the link, thinking there should be an attachment or something. As a reader on the user end, I’d like to see an obvious link. I bet you a box of old tubes you’re readership would welcome the change.
Hope you have a great weekend, and I guess it’s not too early to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!
[Editor: Suggestions like this are always welcome.]
I've got a piece of paging history I'm willing to give away. Interested? It still works.
I have Nucleus receivers I need to get retuned from Rx 72.46 to 72.94. I have changed my ACB to the 72.94 with DPL of 351 from 261 and Tx of 158.70 from 152.15. But I can't get the receivers to receive the 72.94. Do you have any ideas on how to get the receivers to receive the 72.94 from the 72.46. If you can help I will be very appreciated I am getting a headache from beating my head against the wall.
[Editor: I hope a reader can help out our colleague with this tuning procedure. A mid-band to high-band link is very common.]
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