|Wireless News Aggregation|
Welcome Back To The Wireless Messaging News
When Jim Nelson told me that Derek Banner was retiring as chairman of the Critical Messaging Association and that he (Jim) would be making a presentation at the CMA conference in Brussels yesterday. I sent the following two items to be included.
A LITTLE HUMOR
On Derek Banner’s Retirement
By Brad Dye Editor of The Wireless Messaging News November 6, 2019
I have known Derek since the early 80’s when we both participated in the POCSAG committee meetings in London. I was working for BBL Industries out of Atlanta, Georgia at the time and as one of the international sales managers I was in London frequently. Derek was a key player in the development of the code at British Telecom. He published several engineering papers about POCSAG and he has always exhibited an impressive combination of engineering talent and charm.
These meetings, under the able leadership of R.H. (Ron) Tridgell, Chairman of the Post Office Code Standardisation Advisory Group, were early efforts to coordinate the adoption of POCSAG code as a truly international standard for subscriber radio paging.
In February 1981 POCSAG was accepted by the CCIR (International Radio Consultative Committee) as the recommended Radiopaging Code No. 1. We have Derek to thank for his important contributions. The wide adoption of POCSAG as a non-proprietary code caused the world-wide price of pagers to drop considerably and spurred industry growth until cellphones took over.
It was an honor and a learning experience to be associated with notable paging pioneers like Derek. In view of his over 40 years of experience as a chartered engineer in the telecommunications Industry I couldn’t qualify to carry his briefcase — but he is jealous because I am better looking.
Derek remember when you retire every week has six Saturdays and one Sunday. Enjoy them all.
P.S. Be nice to your kids. They’ll choose your nursing home.
But seriously, Derek is one of Paging's elite.
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.
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2 former Twitter employees accused of spying for Saudi Arabia
Posted: 8:50 AM, Nov 07, 2019
Federal prosecutors accused two former Twitter employees of spying on behalf of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi national, and Ahmad Abouammo, a US citizen, used their access at the social media giant to gather sensitive and nonpublic information on dissidents of the Saudi regime, the Justice Department alleged in a criminal complaint.
The case, unsealed in San Francisco federal court, underscores allegations the Saudi government tries to control anti-regime voices abroad. It also recalls a move reportedly directed by the country's controversial leader to weaponize online platforms against critics.
The accusations are certain to renew scrutiny of tech companies' abilities to protect the privacy of their users.
"The criminal complaint unsealed today alleges that Saudi agents mined Twitter's internal systems for personal information about known Saudi critics and thousands of other Twitter users," US Attorney David Anderson said in a statement. "U.S. law protects U.S. companies from such an unlawful foreign intrusion. We will not allow U.S. companies or U.S. technology to become tools of foreign repression in violation of U.S. law."
A third man, Ahmed Almutairi, also from Saudi Arabia, allegedly acted as a go-between to the two Twitter employees and the Saudi government, which according to the complaint rewarded the men with hundreds of thousands of dollars and, for one man, a luxury Hublo watch.
While no Saudi government officials are named as running the spy operation in the complaint, the Washington Post, citing a person familiar with the case, reports a Saudi national who groomed the two employees is tied into the inner circle of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
All three men are charged with acting as illegal agents of a foreign government. Abouammo, the only one currently in US custody after his arrest in Seattle Tuesday, is also charged with attempting to obstruct the FBI's investigation by providing agents with a fake invoice.
Alzabarah and Almutairi are believed to be in Saudi Arabia and federal warrants have been issued for their arrests, the Justice Department said. Abouammo made an initial appearance in Seattle federal court Wednesday afternoon. It is not clear who is representing Abouammo, and CNN has been unable to locate Alzabarah and Almutairi for comment.
In a statement, Twitter said it "limits access to sensitive account information to a limited group of trained and vetted employees."
"We understand the incredible risks faced by many who use Twitter to share their perspectives with the world and to hold those in power accountable. We have tools in place to protect their privacy and their ability to do their vital work. We're committed to protecting those who use our service to advocate for equality, individual freedoms, and human rights," Twitter said.
CNN has reached out to the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC, for comment.
In the 27-page criminal complaint, authorities detailed how Almutairi and another unnamed Saudi national with high-level ties to the kingdom allegedly courted and later directed the two Twitter employees.
Both Twitter employees allegedly conducted the surveillance in 2015 and left the company later that year.
According to the complaint, Alzabarah, a web engineer for the company, accessed data of over 6,000 Twitter users. Because of his role at the company, Alzabarah would have had access to the IP address of targeted users, as well as their email addresses, phone numbers and a log of all their actions on the platform at any given time, the Justice Department said.
Alzabarah described the level of detail he was able to glean on one user in a draft email, the text of which is included in the complaint.
"This one is a professional. He's a Saudi that uses encryption... We tracked him and found that 12 days ago he signed in once without encryption from IP [redacted] at 18:40 UTe* on 05/25/2015. This one does not use a cell phone at all, just a browser. He's online right using Firefox form [sic] a windows machine," Alzabarah wrote, according to the complaint.
The Saudi government's alleged attempts to crush dissent exploded onto the world stage last year with the killing of prominent critic and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The CIA later concluded that bin Salman personally ordered the murder.
The Saudi government has repeatedly denied that the crown prince was involved in the killing.
According to the complaint, the unnamed Saudi national who helped groom and direct Alzabarah and Abouammo ran the private office of a Saudi royal family member, as well as a charity owned by the royal. The royal is not identified in court documents beyond "Royal Family Member 1," but the Washington Post, which first reported the charges against the Twitter employees Wednesday, said it was bin Salman, citing a person familiar with the case.
Brad's comments: *I think they mean UTC. It says "they" tracked him when "he signed in once without encryption." They sure "they" don't want to give the impression that "they" could track encrypted messages. Oh no! Never! Of course not. Not the USA!
|Source:||KSHB Kansas City|
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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Here's why your iPhone may have received strange texts last night
By Malcolm Owen
A batch of text messages sent months ago were delivered to iPhones and other mobile devices in the United States early in the morning of November 7, with the mysterious message delivery most likely linked to the rollout of the recently-launched Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, a number of US mobile users discovered they were receiving text messages at an unusual time of day. The messages, which included both texts from companies and from people the recipients know, all appear to have been originally sent around the time of Valentine's Day in February.
The messages were not limited by mobile device producer or operating system, which effectively rules out services like Apple's iMessage that are limited to iOS devices like the iPhone. The affected users were also not limited to a specific carrier, with customers of all the major mobile networks in the US seemingly falling victim to the problem.
The out-of-context nature of the messages led to posts on Twitter and Reddit complaining about their occurrence, reports Popular Mechanics. As the messages seemed like they were legitimately sent by the sender, this caused some confusion between the two parties, and with many not necessarily keeping messaging logs that go as far back as February, many are left without the ability to check if the messages were originally received correctly.
While there is no official statement from any of the carriers explaining why the event took place, radio station 92 Moose advises U.S. Cellular confirmed there was an issue with an update to the Cross-Carrier Messaging System. According to the representative, the glitch affected several carriers, and is unlikely to result in any more messages from Valentine's Day reappearing.
Some customers have also reported similar responses from the support teams of other carriers via social media.
Officially announced in October, the Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative is based on GSMA's Rich Communications Service industry standard to improve messages between customers on the different carriers. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon have all signed up for the venture, which aims to develop and deploy the Interoperable messaging service in 2020, initially to Android devices.
CCMI is expected to enable an enhanced experience to privately send individual or group chats across carriers with high-quality pictures and videos, as well as to help customers interact with brands and perform transactions, such as paying bills or scheduling appointments. Most importantly, it aims to create a "single seamless, Interoperable RCS experience across carriers, both in the US and globally."
Given the large number of people who would be affected by the system's implementation, it seems likely Apple would have to include support for it in Messages in the future.
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.
Tipped off by an NSA breach, researchers discover new APT hacking group
DarkUniverse went undetected for at least 8 years. The NSA finally outed it.
DAN GOODIN - 11/5/2019, 2:50 PM
With a tip that came from one of the biggest breaches in US National Security Agency history, researchers have discovered a new hacking group that infected targets with a previously unknown piece of advanced malware.
Hints of the APT—short for advanced persistent threat—group first emerged in April 2017. That's when a still-unidentified group calling itself the Shadow Brokers published exploits and code developed by, and later stolen from, the NSA. Titled "Lost in Translation," the dispatch was best known for publishing the Eternal Blue exploit that would later power the WannaCry and NotPetya worms that caused tens of billions of dollars' worth of damage worldwide. But the dump included something else: a script that checked compromised computers for malware from a variety of APTs.
Researchers from Kaspersky Lab said one of the APTs described in the script started operations no later than 2009 and then vanished in 2017, the same year the Shadow Brokers post was published. Dubbed DarkUniverse, the group is probably tied to ItaDuke, a group that has actively targeted Uyghur and Tibetans since 2013. The link assessment is based on unique code overlaps in both groups' malware.
Going to great lengths
Digging further into DarkUniverse, the researchers found that the group went to great lengths to infect and surveil its targets. For instance, spearphishing emails were prepared separately for each target to ensure they grabbed recipients' attention and induced them to open an attached Microsoft document. Additionally, the full-featured malware was developed from scratch and evolved considerably over the eight-year span of the group's known existence. Each malware sample was compiled immediately before being sent to include the latest available version of the executable.
"The attackers were resourceful and kept updating their malware during the full life cycle of their operations, so the observed samples from 2017 are totally different from the initial ones from 2009," Kaspersky researchers wrote in a post published on Tuesday. "The suspension of its operations may be related to the publishing of the 'Lost in Translation' leak, or the attackers may simply have decided to switch to more modern approaches and start using more widely available artifacts for their operations."
DarkUniverse's modular malware was capable of collecting a wide range of information about the user and the infected system over an extended period of time. Data collected included:
The malware also had the ability to change DNS settings, perform basic man-in-the-middle attacks, and download and execute files. Control servers were mostly stored on a mydrive.ch cloud storage service. DarkUniverse operators created a new account, along with additional malware modules and configuration files, for each target.
The researchers know of 20 infected targets geolocated in Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sudan, Russia, Belarus, and the United Arab Emirates. The targets were both civilian and military organizations. The researchers suspect the number of infections between 2009 and 2017 was much higher.
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
This is why hospitals still use beepers (and almost no one else does)
This 'dinosaur' technology offers a whole host of benefits that the mighty smartphone can't match.
by Georgina Berbari
Hospital technology is constantly advancing. Health records are being digitized, Telehealth tools are emerging, and equipment is changing in order for procedures to become less invasive.
So why, amongst all of this progress, has one archaic device remained?
It seems a bit strange that in the age of the smartphone, pagers would still be the go-to method of communication in hospital settings. Yet, in the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that about 90% of hospitals continue to use pagers in their institutions (despite the fact that the devices date back to 1950).
Dead zones (for service)
No, it’s not that hospitals are simply stuck in the 90s. There are a few important reasons that beepers have stuck around, one of those being that hospitals are often a dead-zone for cell service. This isn’t on accident: Jarret Patton, MD, FAAP, founder of DoctorJarret told Reader’s Digest that the walls in some areas of a hospital are built in order to keep X-rays from penetrating them, and it’s those heavy-duty designs that also block cellphone signals. Pagers, however, have the frequency to surpass those walls.
Massive group messaging
Further, Shoshana Ungerleider, MD, an internist at California Pacific Medical Center told RD that, specifically during emergencies when hospital staff might need to reach hundreds of people at one time, massive group texts wouldn’t be efficient. Pagers, on the other hand, send out signals to hundreds of people with ease.
Long-lasting (battery) life
Trusty beepers also have great battery lives, which is more than most people can say for their iPhones.
Pagers only need to be charged about every two weeks: A device that is reliable in this way is important for doctors who are often so busy that they wouldn’t have time for a cellphone to be continuously dying.
Plus, with cellphones, security breaches could happen and confidential information could land in the wrong hands. Beepers are simple one-way systems that don’t allow for this kind of violation.
Finally, according to Medical Director, pagers operate on a system that works even during distorters and power outages. This degree of reliability is imperative in the healthcare setting.
Are beepers here to stay?
Pagers will likely be sticking around, at least for a while. “A pager still offers benefits that have yet to be replicated by more modern forms of communication,” Allison Bond, a former resident internal medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital reported for Slate.
According to Bond, Even if a hospital administrator has the spontaneous motivation to upgrade its doctors’ method of communication, the cost can be a barrier.
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.
Chatham receives $2.3 million grant for upgraded public safety radio system
Posted Friday, November 1, 2019 7:00 am
PITTSBORO — The item was stashed away in the consent agenda at the last Chatham County Board of Commissioners meeting because it wasn’t controversial.
But by all accounts, its approval will be a significant aid to the county’s efforts to keep its citizens safe.
Chatham County is the recipient of more than $2.3 million in grant money from the North Carolina 911 Board for the purpose of upgrading the county’s radio system for emergency personnel.
The board first announced the grants in late August, as Chatham joined other counties like Cumberland, Franklin and Pender in receiving funds to improve things like PSAPs, short for public service answering points, and 911 centers.
“The Board is proud to support the state’s PSAPs and to improve the state’s 911 capabilities,” said Pokey Harris, the 911 Board’s executive director. “It’s through grant programs such as this that we keep North Carolina’s 911 centers on the forefront of technology to better serve and protect our residents.”
The county had put the upgrade of its system on the most recent Capital Improvements Program at a projected cost of $18,909,295. Mike Reitz, the county’s emergency communications director, explained to commissioners in May the need for an overhaul.
“The current infrastructure is at the end of life,” Reitz said. “The current system is just out-dated, doesn’t provide good safety measures for responders. We have challenges every single day with communicating.”
During a budget work session, Reitz played a clip of a sheriff’s deputy calling in a traffic accident. The call was full of static, and the dispatcher asked for a repeat of almost all the information. Reitz then played a clip of what the new system would sound like, and it was much clearer.
“It’s night and day, the difference between the two systems,” he said. “The new system is light years ahead of what we have now, and puts us in position for future growth, future needs of the department.”
Reitz added that the county will utilize some towers currently in use and build three new ones for the upgraded system.
A press release from Chatham County last week stated the grant would help a “complete overhaul from a VHF/UHF system to an 800 MHz VIPER (Voice Inoperability Plan for Emergency Responders) system. The money will go toward improving and/or installing key infrastructure such as towers, fire/EMS paging system and microwave equipment.”
The release added that work is already under way on the project and the upgrade is set to be complete by summer 2021.
“Our current public safety radio system has been in operation for 25-30 years, and the upgrades are critical to allowing Chatham County to keep up with necessary technology as it responds to emergencies over the coming years,” Reitz said in the press release. “The major enhancement will be that emergency responders — police, fire and EMS — can communicate better with one another and the emergency communications center.”
Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.
|Source:||Chatham News + Record|
FCC to Kill Rule That Bans Exclusive Use of Unique Tower Site
At its October 25 open meeting, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking looking to revise or eliminate its rules concerning access to common FM and TV tower sites. The rules prohibit the grant, or renewal of a license for an FM or TV station if that applicant or licensee controls an antenna site that is “peculiarly suitable” for broadcasting in the area and does not make the site available for use by potential competitors. The rules have been used sparingly because of modern tower site use and now the Commission wants to know if they should be revised or wiped from the books.
The rules stem from 1945 when FM and television broadcasting were still in their infancy, the infrastructure available to broadcast a signal over the air was sparse, and there were broadcast material and equipment shortages. At that time, the FCC was concerned that exclusive use of an antenna site could restrict the number of FM and TV stations in a particular area or otherwise impede station competition.
In 1945, there were 46 licensed FM broadcast stations; today, there are 6,726 FM commercial stations and 4,179 educational FMs. The terrestrial radio broadcast market today also includes 4,610 AMs, 2,178 LPFMs, and over 8,000 FM translators and boosters. In 1945, there were nine television stations; today, there are 1,757 commercial and noncommercial educational full-power TV stations, 387 Class As, almost 1,900 LPTVs, and more than 3,600 TV translators.
The dramatic increase in the number of TV and radio stations since 1945 has contributed to a corresponding jump in the number of broadcast tower sites. While some communications towers are owned and operated by broadcasters, “the vast majority appear to be owned by non-broadcast entities, including companies specializing in tower leasing such as American Tower, Crown Castle, InSite Wireless Group, and Vertical Bridge,” says the agency in the NPRM. “[W]hile it appears broadcasters were more likely to have owned their towers in 1945, this is less the case today, and there is now widespread availability of tower capacity from a variety of tower companies,” the Commission says.
Many tower sites are available for lease and shared use by broadcasters and wireless carriers, helping broadcast tower tenants and other entities avoid the capital investment, environmental, zoning and other concerns involved in building new communications towers. The co-location trend has also reduced the cost and other barriers to entry associated with the need to build new transmission facilities. In addition, the development of broadband antennas now permits multiple FM and TV stations in a market to share an antenna, thereby reducing the cost of antenna and tower facilities and permitting towers with broadband antennas to accommodate more individual FM and TV tower tenants, the FCC states.
Questions the agency poses in the NPRM include: Are there enough towers and antenna sites suitable for FM and TV broadcast use? Does the current abundance of towers and antenna sites owned or controlled by non-broadcast entities render the rules regarding use of common antenna sites unnecessary? If the agency eliminated the rules, what is the chance that TV and FM owners would need to build their own towers?
Publication in the Federal Register triggered the comment due dates; comments are due December 6, with reply comments due on December 23, to MB Dockets 19–282 and 17–105.
|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.
EAS Participants Must Update Message Validation Certificates by November 8th
The FCC on Tuesday issued a Public Notice advising video operators and other participants in the national Emergency Alert System (EAS) of the need to update one of the message validation certificates issued for FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) and installed in EAS devices before the existing certificate expires on November 8, 2019. The FCC’s rules define EAS Participants as radio broadcast stations, including AM, FM, and low-power FM stations; Class A television and low-power TV stations; cable systems; wireline video systems; wireless cable systems; direct broadcast satellite service providers; and digital audio radio service providers.
See story below for more information.
BloostonLaw Contact: Cary Mitchell.
EAS Participants Must Update Message Validation Certificates by November 8th
The FCC on Tuesday issued a Public Notice advising video operators and other participants in the national Emergency Alert System (EAS) of the need to update one of the message validation certificates issued for FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) and installed in EAS devices before the existing certificate expires on November 8, 2019.
Under the FCC’s rules, EAS Participants are required to validate Common Alerting Protocol (CAP)-formatted alerts distributed by the FEMA before transmitting them to the public. To validate a CAP-formatted EAS message from IPAWs, the EAS device confirms that the digital signature associated with the CAP EAS alert matches the alert contents, and that the signature was created by the certificate included in the alert. If the certificate cannot be validated or has expired, the EAS device will reject the alert as invalid and not process it for transmission to the public.
FEMA has informed the Bureau that one of the certificates issued for IPAWS and installed in all EAS devices expires on November 8, 2019. Although the certificate authority issued the replacement certificate on October 28, 2019, FEMA is concerned that this may not provide sufficient time to update all EAS devices.
According to the FCC, over-the-air national EAS messages initiated by Primary Entry Point stations, as well as state and local alerts initiated by State Primary and other non-IPAWS sources, are not affected by this situation. Wireless Emergency Alerts, which are relied on to distribute emergency information to handsets, are also unaffected by this situation.
The FCC’s rules define EAS Participants as radio broadcast stations, including AM, FM, and low-power FM stations; Class A television and low-power TV stations; cable systems; wireline video systems; wireless cable systems; direct broadcast satellite service providers; and digital audio radio service providers.
BloostonLaw Contact: Cary Mitchell.
FCC Officially Adopts Speed Testing Requirements, Pushes Back Schedule
At last week’s Open Meeting the FCC formally adopted an Order on Reconsideration that would “make targeted modifications” to the speed testing procedures adopted in the 2018 Performance Measures Order, including pushing back the implementation deadlines for speed testing procedures. Clarifications and modifications to the speed testing requirements covered endpoints for test, specific speed test requirements, number of test locations, standards for full compliance, and remedies for non-compliance. The daily test period, specific latency test requirements, quarterly testing requirements, and choices in testing methods remain unchanged by the proposed Reconsideration.
In addition, the FCC adopted a revised implementation timetable for speed testing, as well as a pre-testing period that will occur prior to the commencement of each carrier’s testing start date. Pre-testing will require carriers to conduct testing according to the FCC’s requirements using a USAC-determined random sample of subscribers, and results must be submitted to USAC within one week of the end of each quarter. However, no support reductions will be assessed during the pre-testing period, as long as carriers actually undertake the pre-testing and report their results — carriers that fail to conduct pre-testing and submit results in a timely fashion will be considered to be at Level 1 noncompliance.
Carriers with questions about the FCC’s speed testing requirements should contact the firm for more information.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, Mary Sisak, and Sal Taillefer.
FCC Poised to Adopt 3-Meter Vertical Accuracy for Indoor 911 Calls
Automating location information for wireless calls placed indoors can be challenging, especially if the caller is in a multi-story or multi-use building where a floor, office suite, or apartment number may be needed to locate them. As part of the FCC’s ongoing efforts to improve location information for indoor 911 callers, the FCC plans to adopt a 911 vertical location (or “z-axis”) accuracy standard that should help 911 call centers and first responders to more accurately determine what floor of a multi-story building a caller is on.
The standard will require vertical location of 911 callers 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 (most of our law firm’s clients) are not 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.
The wireless 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 and 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 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 MAC address of each beacon with a dispatchable location.
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 are not required and solutions can be implemented by means of software modifications that are readily achievable ahead of the 2021 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: Cary Mitchell and John Prendergast.
Comments on Common Antenna Site Requirements Due December 6
On November 6, the FCC published in the Federal Register its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on certain FM and TV broadcast antenna access rules prohibiting grant, or renewal, of a license for an FM or TV station if that applicant or licensee controls an antenna site that is peculiarly suitable for broadcasting in the area and does not make the site available for use by other similar licensees. Comments are due December 6, and reply comments are due December 23.
According to the FCC, the dramatic increase in the number of television and radio stations since the adoption of the rules in question has contributed to a corresponding increase in the number of antenna sites suitable for broadcasting, the vast majority of which appear to be owned by non-broadcast entities. Thus, while it appears that broadcasters were more likely to have owned their towers in 1945, this is less the case today, and there is now widespread availability of tower capacity from a variety of tower companies. The FCC also notes that the trend toward co-location of communications towers on antenna farms has also reduced the cost and other barriers to entry associated with the need to build new transmission facilities. In light of these changes in the broadcasting market place and others, the FCC invites comment on whether the requirements regarding the use of common FM and TV antenna sites continue to serve the public interest.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and John Prendergast.
FCC Reschedules Open Meeting for November 22
On November 5, the FCC issued a short Public Notice announcing that the date for the November Open Meeting has been changed from Tuesday November 19, 2019 to Friday, November 22, 2019. All other details remain unchanged.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, John Prendergast, and Sal Taillefer.
Law & Regulation
Repeal of Small Wireless Exemption for Environmental Review Effective December 5
On November 5, the FCC published in the Federal Register its Order repealing the small wireless facilities exemption from federal environmental and historic preservation review originally adopted in the Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment proceeding. Repeal of the exemption is effective December 5. As we reported in a previous edition of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated those portions of the FCC’s 2018 Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment Second Report and Order adopting the exemption.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Cary Mitchell.
FCC Settles CenturyLink 911 Probe
On November 4, the FCC issued an Order entering into a consent decree with CenturyLink, Inc. to settle an investigation into whether CenturyLink reasonably designed and operated its 911 network to ensure reliable transmission of all 911 calls. To settle this matter, CenturyLink agreed to implement a compliance plan and will pay a $400,000 civil penalty.
According to the consent decree, in August of 2018 a subcontracting technician hired by CenturyLink made an error during the course of a routine configuration change to the NG911 routing network that inadvertently caused interference with the routing of 911 calls by CenturyLink to PSAPs in six states. The resulting NG911 outage lasted for 65 minutes. During the course of the event, hundreds of 911 calls failed to transmit to affected PSAPs. For instance, in Minnesota alone, 693 such calls were not transmitted to approximately 70 PSAPs.
The FCC’s subsequent investigation determined that the outage was caused by employee error that likely could have been avoided had additional checks been implemented with respect to the NG911 network assets and operations. Based upon the facts adduced during the Investigation, the FCC concluded that CenturyLink’s actions violated Sections 64.3001 and 64.3002 of the Rules with respect to the NG911 Outage. CenturyLink disputed the FCC’s interpretation of these rules. CenturyLink and the FCC engaged in settlement negotiations.
In a statement, Commissioner Starks expressed disappointment of the settlement, stating that “… the $400,000 settlement with CenturyLink today does not address the repeat nature of the outages, and in fact the consent decree fails to even mention [a previous outage]. Today’s consent decree re-adopts measures previously instituted, including designating a compliance officer and developing and implementing a compliance plan reflecting industry best practices. Notably, even though the consent decree assigns fault for the outage at issue here to a subcontractor, the compliance plan contains nothing about better coordination and supervision of such parties. We should have taken stronger enforcement action here.”
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and John Prendergast.
AT&T Pays $60 Million to Settle FTC Case over “Unlimited Data” Promises
On November 5, the Federal Trade Commission announced that AT&T Mobility, LLC, will pay $60 million to settle litigation over allegations that the wireless provider misled millions of its smart-phone customers by charging them for “unlimited” data plans while reducing their data speeds.
As we reported in previous editions of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, the FTC alleged that AT&T failed to adequately disclose to its unlimited data plan customers that, if they reach a certain amount of data use in a given billing cycle, AT&T would reduce—or “throttle”—their data speeds to the point that many common mobile phone applications, such as web browsing and video streaming, became difficult or nearly impossible to use. After AT&T challenged whether the FTC had jurisdiction to bring the case, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in 2018 ruled that the FTC did have jurisdiction and authority to challenge the company’s marketing of mobile data services, allowing the FTC’s case to proceed.
As part of the settlement, AT&T is prohibited from making any representation about the speed or amount of its mobile data, including that it is “unlimited,” without disclosing any material restrictions on the speed or amount of data. The disclosures need to be prominent, not buried in fine print or hidden behind hyperlinks. For example, if an AT&T website advertises a data plan as unlimited, but AT&T may slow speeds after consumers reach a certain data cap, AT&T must prominently and clearly disclose those restrictions.
The $60 million paid by AT&T as part of the settlement will be deposited into a fund that the company will use to provide partial refunds to both current and former customers who had originally signed up for unlimited plans prior to 2011 but were throttled by AT&T. Affected consumers will not be required to submit a claim for the refunds. Current AT&T customers will automatically receive a credit to their bills while former customers will receive checks for the refund amount they are owed.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Sal Taillefer.
FCC Resolves Investigation into Unlicensed Operation in the 3650-3700 MHz Band
On November 1, the FCC 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 Cary Mitchell.
FCC Approves T-Mobile/Sprint Merger with Conditions; Modifies Dish Licenses
On November 5, the FCC released the Order approving with conditions the transfer of control applications filed by T-Mobile and Sprint. Specifically, T-Mobile and Sprint have committed within three years to deploy 5G service to cover 97% of the American people, and within six years to reach 99% of all Americans. This commitment includes deploying 5G service to cover 85% of rural Americans within three years and 90% of rural Americans within six years.
The parties also pledged that within six years, 90% of Americans would have access to mobile service with speeds of at least 100 Mbps and 99% of Americans would have access to speeds of at least 50 Mbps. This includes two-thirds of rural Americans having access to mobile service with speeds of at least 100 Mbps, and 90% of rural Americans having access to speeds of at least 50 Mbps.
In connection with the merger, the FCC also proposed—subject to conditions—modifications to construction deadlines related to DISH licenses. The proposed DISH construction deadline modifications would facilitate the implementation of certain measures in the Department of Justice’s consent decree in connection with the transaction that was announced in July, where DISH pledged to become a new entrant into the wireless industry, offering 5G service to over two-thirds of Americans within four years.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Cary Mitchell.
USDA Announces $9 Million in ReConnect Pilot Program Funding
On November 4, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced nearly $9 million in funding under its ReConnect Pilot Program for high-speed broadband infrastructure for more than 1,500 rural households in Virginia and Oklahoma.
Specifically, in Virginia, Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative will use ReConnect Program funding to deploy a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband network capable of simultaneous transmission rates of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) or greater. The funded service areas include 1,254 households, two volunteer fire departments, and four educational facilities. In Oklahoma, Oklahoma Western Telephone Company will use ReConnect Program loan funding to deploy a fiber to the home (FTTH) broadband network capable of simultaneous transmission rates of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) or greater. The funded service areas include 312 households and 20 farms.
“Our core mission at USDA is to increase rural prosperity, and this mission cannot be achieved without addressing the digital divide our rural communities face due to a lack of high-speed broadband Internet connection,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald LaVoy. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural communities in deploying this critical infrastructure, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
JANUARY 15: FORM 855 HAC COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATION. The next Hearing Aid Compatibility regulatory compliance certification, certifying compliance with the FCC’s HAC handset minimums as well as enhanced record retention and website posting requirements for the 2019 calendar year, will be due January 15, 2020, for all CMRS service providers that had operations during any portion of 2019. Companies that sold their wireless licenses during 2018 and that didn’t otherwise provide mobile wireless service (e.g., via resale) during the 2019 calendar year won’t have any obligation to file a HAC compliance certification for the 2019 calendar year. Under current FCC rules, Tier III service providers are required to offer at least 50% or ten (10) handsets that are rated M3- or better, and at least 33% or ten (10) handsets that are rated T3- or better. Beginning April 3, 2020, at least 66% of a Tier III provider’s handset must meet ratings of M3- or better and T3- or better. BloostonLaw has prepared a 2019 HAC Regulatory Compliance Template to facilitate our clients’ compliance with the revised HAC rules. Contact Cary Mitchell if you would like to obtain a copy of the HAC Regulatory Compliance Template.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Cary Mitchell and Sal Taillefer.
|LETTERS TO THE EDITOR|
Thanks to all for your efforts to help us out with our previous request. We really appreciate it!
We’ve acquired the documentation we were looking for and we’re back on the air. The last piece of this puzzle we’ve acquired is documentation for the PURC-5000 VHF high power transmitter.
Might anyone have a hard copy manual you’d care to part with? We’re paying! OR soft copy would work.
We haven’t had any luck finding anything online. ANY help would be greatly appreciated!
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