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Wireless News Aggregation

Friday — September 7, 2018 — Issue No. 822

Welcome Back To
The Wireless Messaging News

This issue is coming out early as I am attending an out-of-town wedding over the weekend.

The new animated GIF graphic (following below) about pagers kicking smartphones' butts, was an original idea suggested by my friend and colleague Jim Nelson, President of Prism-IPX Systems. This is the first draft of Jim's idea. There may be other editions to follow. More suggestions from other readers would also be appreciated. Let's get creative and make more cleaver notices to remind people that pagers will work when other wireless devices will not.

It is a shame that we all build up a false confidence in our smartphones because they work so well — most of the time. The phrase “when smartphones get stupid” simply means that when any cellular telephone is needed the most, it just won't work. There are many well documented examples of major crises when the cell networks were so overloaded that calls were nearly impossible.

  • Earthquakes
  • Terrorism (like 9/11)
  • Hurricanes
  • Plane/Train crashes
  • Large fires or industrial accidents
  • and many more

I am practicing my animated-GIF making. They work just like those little flip books that we played with when we were kids.

A flip book or flick book is a book with a series of pictures that vary gradually from one page to the next, so that when the pages are turned rapidly, the pictures appear to animate by simulating motion or some other change. [Wikipedia]



Well . . . I guess I'm being like the engineer, when you ask him or her what time it is, they tell you how to make a watch.

We need your help. This is probably the only weekly news source about paging and wireless messaging.

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There is no charge for subscription and there are no membership restrictions. It’s all about staying up-to-date with business trends and technology.


Wireless Messaging News

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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.

About Us

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.


Let's get together and share ideas. Our competitors are not other paging companies, they are other technologies.

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 Policy

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.







Prism-IPX Systems is growing and they are looking for more good software developers with communications experience. Additional information is available on their web site. Click here .


Partial Content — Licensed Adobe Stock Image

Advertiser Index

Easy Solutions  (Vaughan Bowden)
IWA Technical Services, Inc.  (Ira Wiesenfeld)
Leavitt Communications  (Phil Leavitt)
Prism Paging  (Jim Nelson & John Bishop)
Product Support Services  (PSSI, Robert Cook, et al )
Paging & Wireless Network Planners LLC  (Ron Mercer)

5G: Lies, timelines, and bandwidth

What is 5G? I'll do you one better: Where is 5? I'll do you one even better: WHY IS 5G?!


5G is being touted as the latest wireless technology to revolutionize the world. But that's what they said about 'fake' 4G and even 'real' LTE...

So, to find out what's really going on with millimeter waves, small cells, massive MIMO, beam-forming, and full duplex, when we can realistically expect 'real' 5G and not just LTE add-ons, how long deployment will take by carriers, and what the next-generation services might look like, I got Daniel Bader, executive editor of Android Central, on the line, and... well...

Hit play on the video above and find out!


Mobile Nations

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.

  • Commercial Paging systems.
  • Healthcare Paging systems.
  • Public Safety Emergency Services Paging systems.
  • Demand Response Energy Grid Management.

Built-in custom interface for Prism-IPX ipBSC Base Controller for remote control, management and alarm reporting.

  • Use as a stand-alone unit or in wide area network.
  • Mix with other transmitter brands in an existing paging network.
  • Adjustable from 20-250 watts.
  • 110/240 VAC or 48VDC.
  • Absolute Delay Correction.
  • Remote Diagnostics.
  • Configurable alarm thresholds.
  • Integrated Isolator.
  • Superb Reliability.
  • Improved amplifier efficiency.
  • Most reliable high-powered paging transmitter available.

Prism-IPX Systems LLC.

11175 Cicero Dr., Alpharetta, GA 30022
Ph: 678-242-5290 Email:

Back To Paging


Still The Most Reliable Protocol For Wireless Messaging!

Newsletter Advertising


If you are reading this, your potential customers are reading it as well. Please click here to find out about our advertising options.

Licensed Adobe Stock Image

Easy Solutions

easy solutions

Providing Expert Support and Service Contracts for all Glenayre Paging Systems.

The GL3000 is the most prolific paging system in the world and Easy Solutions gladly welcomes you to join us in providing reliable support to the paging industry for many more decades in the future.

Easy Solutions provides cost effective computer and wireless solutions at affordable prices. We can help in most any situation with your communications systems. We have many years of experience and a vast network of resources to support the industry, your system and an ever changing completive landscape.

  • We treat our customers like family. We don’t just fix problems . . . We recommend and implement better cost-effective solutions.
  • We are not just another vendor . . . We are a part of your team. All the advantages of high priced full-time employment without the cost.
  • We are not in the Technical Services business . . . We are in the Customer Satisfaction business.

Experts in Paging Infrastructure

  • Glenayre, Motorola, Unipage, etc.
  • Excellent Service Contracts
  • Full Service—Beyond Factory Support
  • Making systems More Reliable and MORE PROFITABLE for over 30 years.

Please see our web site for exciting solutions designed specifically for the Wireless Industry. We also maintain a diagnostic lab and provide important repair and replacement parts services for Motorola and Glenayre equipment. Call or  e-mail  us for more information.

Easy Solutions
3220 San Simeon Way
Plano, Texas 75023

Vaughan Bowden
Telephone: 972-898-1119
Telephone: 214 785-8255

Easy Solutions


“Is Paging Going Away?” by Jim Nelson

  • Click here for English.
  • Click here for German. (Berlin Revision: November 8, 2016)
  • Click here for French.

Here is an English PDF edit of this paper formatted with page breaks and suitable for printing.

Volunteers needed for translations into other languages.


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.


Board of Advisors

The Wireless Messaging News
Board of Advisors

Frank McNeill
Founder & CEO
Communications Specialists
Jim Nelson
President & CEO
Prism Systems International
Kevin D. McFarland, MSCIS
Sr. Application Systems Analyst
Medical Center
Paul Lauttamus, President
Lauttamus Communications & Security
R.H. (Ron) Mercer
Wireless Consultant
Barry Kanne
Paging Industry Veteran
Ira Wiesenfeld, P.E.
Consulting Engineer
Allan Angus
Consulting Engineer

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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Prism-IPX Systems

prism-ipx systems
Critical Messaging that works
Secure . . . Dependable . . .
and Encrypted

Who We Are

Prism-IPX is a leader in providing reliable communications systems using modern designs to meet today’s demands for critical message alerting and delivery. Prism-IPX designs versatile and robust Critical Message Management systems using paging and other wireless technologies for high performance and dependable communications.

What We Make

Prism-IPX Systems products include full-featured radio paging systems with VoIP input, IP based transmitter control systems and paging message encryption. Other options include e-mail messaging, remote switch controllers, Off-The-Air paging message decoders and logging systems.

Contact Us   left arrow

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Product Support Services, Inc.

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Repair and Refurbishment Services

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PSSI Repair Pricing
Repair Turn-Around Time 5-10 Business Days
1.1 Messaging Device - Repair Fees (parts additional change, 90-day warranty)
  Model Name PSSI Model Code Model Type Pricing (USD$)
  AE-Advisor Elite AE-Advisor Elite Alphanumeric $14.25
  AG-Advisor Gold AG-Advisor Gold Alphanumeric $13.12
  ALPE-UniElite (All New Parts) ALPE-UniElite Alphanumeric $34.83
  ALPE-UniElite (Used Parts) ALPE-UniElite Alphanumeric $14.94
  ALPG-Alpha Gold ALPG-Alpha Gold Alphanumeric $14.51
  Apollo Apollo Numeric $13.37
  Bravo 850 B8-BR850 Numeric $17.02
  BF-Bravo FLX BF-Bravo FLX Numeric $11.44
  T900 T9-T900 2Way $18.56
  BP-Bravo Plus BP-Bravo Plus Numeric $11.44
  BR-Bravo LX BR-Bravo LX Numeric $11.44
  GS-Coaster Coaster Numeric $26.97
  M90-UNI Messenger M90-UNI Messenger 2Way $18.56
  NP88-UNI-NP88 NP88-UNI-NP88 Numeric $9.68
  Pronto PL-Pronto LX Numeric $9.68
  Unication Elegant EL-Elegant Numeric $14.51
  RA-Ranger RA-Ranger Numeric $12.02
  ST800 ST800 Numeric $12.02
  ST800-P ST800-P Numeric $12.02
  T3-Titan Sun Telecom T3-Titan Sun Telecom Alphanumeric $13.37
  Z4-Z400 Sun Telecom Z4-Z400 Sun Telecom Alphanumeric $12.06
1.2 Messaging Device - Miscellaneous Service Fees
  Damaged Beyond Repair Inspection Fee $1.15
  Frequency Change - Synthesized Models $3.45
  Frequency Change - Non-Synthesized Models (parts not included) $4.03
1.3 Infrastructure Network Equip. - Repair Fees (parts additional charge, 6-mth. warranty)
  Model Name PSSI Model Code  
  Motorola Amplifier MO-AMP $581.20
  Motorola SCM/Exciter MO-SCM-EXC $561.25
  Motorola External NIU MO-NIU-EXT $511.92
  Glenayre Tx Controller GL-C2000 $128.34
  Glenayre Exciter Narrow Band GL-EXC-NB $128.34
  Glenayre Exciter Wide Band GL-EXC-WB $128.34
  Glenayre </=300W Amplifier GL-T8500 $303.60
  Glenayre </=300W Amplifier GL-T8600 $303.60
1.4 Infrastructure Network Equipment - Miscellaneous Service Fees
  Inventory Receiving Processing Fee $18.40
  Pick, Pack, and Order Fulfillment Fee $29.90
  Damaged Beyond Repair Inspection Fee $80.50

Product Support Services, Inc.
511 South Royal Lane
Coppell, Texas 75019
817-527-6322 left arrow left arrow

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Governments demand companies allow access to data, or else

04 SEP 2018
By Danny Bradbury

Government security, Privacy, Security threats

A decades-old alliance of national intelligence partners promised to get at encrypted data last week, whether tech companies helped them or not.

Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States released a joint statement calling on tech companies to help them access data when authorised by the courts — or else.

The alliance of countries is known as the Five Eyes, and it was formed after the Second World War as a collaborative effort to share intelligence information. The group released an Official Communiqué at a meeting last week, outlining several broad goals. One of these goals involved increasing government powers to target encrypted data when the courts authorized it (a concept known as ‘lawful access’).

The group went into more depth in its Statement of Principles on Access to Evidence and Encryption, released at the same time. The document starts off conciliatory enough, arguing that encryption is necessary:

Encryption is vital to the digital economy and a secure cyberspace, and to the protection of personal, commercial and government information.

Then came the common refrain: You can have too much of a good thing.

However, the increasing use and sophistication of certain encryption designs present challenges for nations in combatting serious crimes and threats to national and global security.

The same encryption that protects legitimate information is also protecting criminals, the statement said, adding that while privacy laws are important, the authorities need a way to access communications when a court has allowed it. The countries’ reasoning here is that the same principles have applied to searches of homes and other physical spaces for years. They want the same warrant principles to apply in cyberspace.

The unified governments set out three principles. One reinforced the rule of law, explaining that governments must follow due process when accessing data.

Assuming they do that, though, another principle says that technology product and service providers – including carriers, device manufacturers or over-the-top service providers — have a responsibility to help governments access the data that they need. These companies should assist governments in getting access to data, the statement said, adding that situations where governments cannot access information with the courts’ consent should be rare.

The final principle has the stinger. Entitled ‘Freedom of choice for lawful access solutions’, it encourages companies to “voluntarily establish lawful access solutions to their products and services that they create or operate in our countries”. But what if they don’t volunteer?

Should governments continue to encounter impediments to lawful access to information necessary to aid the protection of the citizens of our countries, we may pursue technological, enforcement, legislative or other measures to achieve lawful access solutions.

So there it is. Companies must help governments gain lawful access to data, or else.

The Five Eyes’ approach to lawful access appears conflicted. On the one hand, its Communiqué says:

The five countries have no interest or intention to weaken encryption mechanisms.

On the other hand, its statement on encryption appears to advocate exactly that. Should encryption be removed during transit to allow Fives Eyes access to data, that encryption is weakened.

No ungoverned spaces

The other focus for Five Eyes was on online spaces (think Facebook, YouTube and suchlike). It advocated for a “free, open, safe and secure INTERNET”. This means stopping wrongdoers online including terrorists and child abusers. It also singled out foreign interference and disinformation.

In its Statement on Countering the Illicit Use of Online Spaces, it said that it had asked tech leaders to help it look at this problem but came up empty-handed. So it outlined a set of goals anyway.

It urged the tech sector to figure out ways to prevent illegal content from being uploaded, and to take it down more quickly when identified. They should also go through existing online content and check that too. Tech companies should share hashes of this information more readily to co-operate on takedowns, it said, adding that the governments would also share these hashes between themselves and with the tech sector.

The five governments will also be watching the tech industry and reporting back on a quarterly basis, the statement concluded.

This more aggressive, official Five Eyes stance on governmental control of and access to INTERNET information has been in the works for a while. Australia has been particularly outspoken on the issue.

Recently-ousted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called directly on Five Eyes for more action in June 2017 at a speech to the Australian Federal Council:

The INTERNET cannot be an ungoverned space. We cannot continue to allow terrorists and extremists to use the INTERNET and the big social media and messaging platforms — most of which are hosted in the United States I should say — to spread their poison.

Australia recently announced its own stricter rules on lawful access, following the United Kingdom’s lead.

Playing For Change

Danny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with over 20 years' experience writing about security, software development, and networking.


Naked Security


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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.

Input Protocols: Serial and IP
Output Protocols: Serial and IP
FLEX (optional PURC control)   POCSAG (optional PURC control)

Additional/Optional Features

  • Database of up to 5000 subscribers.
  • 4 serial ports on board.
  • Up to 8 phone lines (DID or POTS).
  • Can be configured for auto-fail-over to hot swap standby.
  • 1RU rack mount unit appliance—no moving parts.
  • Easily secure legacy system messages leaving site for HIPAA compliance.
  • Only purchase the protocols/options you need.
  • Add Paging Encryption for HIPAA compliance on site.

Prism-IPX Systems LLC.

11175 Cicero Dr., Alpharetta, GA 30022
Ph: 678-242-5290 Email:

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Leavitt Communications

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Specialists in sales and service of equipment from these leading manufacturers, as well as other two-way radio and paging products:

UNICATION bendix king

motorola blue Motorola SOLUTIONS

COM motorola red Motorola MOBILITY spacer
Philip C. Leavitt
Leavitt Communications
7508 N. Red Ledge Drive
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
Web Site:
Mobile phone: 847-494-0000
Telephone: 847-955-0511
Fax: 270-447-1909
Skype ID: pcleavitt

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New pagers problematic for firefighters

Many not getting alerts

Tri-County Times | Fenton, MI Hannah Ball Staff Reporter Aug 31, 2018

Pictured above is one of the 800 MHz pagers used by the Argentine Township, Fenton Township and Linden fire departments.
Tri-County Times | Fenton, MI Hannah Ball Staff Reporter

A few local fire departments have reported their pagers failing when they’re supposed to be alerted to an emergency.

The Argentine Township and Linden City fire departments have both experienced their pagers not working correctly.

Linden Fire Chief Brian Will said, “Upon occasion, we do not get the tones or notification of a call. The frequency doesn’t appear to reach all locations.”

Will named problematic locations such as inside a commercial business, a grocery store or even the fire station.

“These concerns have been addressed with 911 so they can try to get a remedy or solution to fix the issue,” he said.

These issues are due to the new 800 MHz pagers purchased in 2017 by the Genesee County 911 Consortium. The consortium bought 800 pagers for various fire departments in the county at a cost of $450,000. Since firefighters started using the new pagers last fall, multiple departments have complained to the 911 consortium about lost signals or not receiving calls. The consortium has been working to reprogram the pagers.

During a July 30 meeting, Argentine Township Fire Chief Matt Lafferty told the township board about an instance when a garbage truck was on fire, but firefighters in the station didn’t get an alert, according to the meeting minutes.

“Due to our location in the building we didn’t have Wi-Fi or phone signal,” Lafferty said. “Thankfully the fire was minor enough that the crew from the garbage company extinguished it with a garden hose upon our arrival.”

Not receiving a call wasn’t a onetime occurrence.

“I’ve had multiple incidents the pagers haven’t received the call or were cutting in and out to the point you couldn’t comprehend it,” Lafferty said at the meeting. “During our training on the (July) 15th, we were in our training room when a call came in. Half of our pagers didn’t go off right away, when the others finally went off, all they heard was the dispatcher repeating the fire ground.”

Lafferty reached out to the 911 consortium and other chiefs in the county for suggestions. The county is now installing new batteries in the 800 MHz pagers for Argentine Township, which Lafferty hopes will solve the issue.

“They’re just working the kinks out. We’re covered. We have the backup with the ‘I am Responding’ program,” Lafferty said Wednesday, Aug. 29. This program sends alerts to firefighters’ phones and allows them to tell the department who can respond.

Other departments, such as the Flint Township Fire Department and the Grand Blanc Fire Department, also have reported experiencing these issues. The Fenton Fire Department still uses the older VHF pagers. The Fenton Township Fire Department uses the 800 MHz pagers without issue now, but did experience problems when they first started using them last fall.

“They were picking up on signals from towers in different vicinities. When they programmed them to the correct tower, that’s when all the issues went away,” said Steve Haiser, interim fire chief of the Fenton Township Fire Department.

Haiser said they didn’t miss any calls because they used the VHF pagers until the 800 MHz pagers were working correctly.

“We had redundant pagers,” he said. “Now we only use the 800 (MHz pagers).”


Tri-County Times


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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.

  • Option—decode capcode list or all messages.
  • Large capcode capacity.
  • Serial, USB and Ethernet output.
  • POCSAG or FLEX page decoding, special SA protocols.
  • Receivers for paging bands in VHF, UHF, 900 MHz.
  • Message activated Alarm Output.
  • 8 programmable relay outputs.
  • Send notifications of a system problem.
  • Synthesized Receiver Tuning.
  • Selectivity better than 60 dB.
  • Frequencies 148-174, 450-470, 929-932 MHz.
  • Image Rejection better than 55 dB.
  • Spurious Rejection better than 55 dB.
  • Channel Spacing 12.5 or 25 kHz.
  • Power 5VDC.
  • Receiving Sensitivity 5µV at 1200 bps.

Prism-IPX Systems LLC.

11175 Cicero Dr., Alpharetta, GA 30022
Ph: 678-242-5290 Email:

Wireless Network Planners

Wireless Network Planners
Wireless Specialists

R.H. (Ron) Mercer
217 First Street
East Northport, NY 11731

ron mercer
Telephone: 631-786-9359 left arrow left arrow

Wireless Network Planners

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Consulting Alliance

Brad Dye, Ron Mercer, Allan Angus, Vic Jackson, and Ira Wiesenfeld are friends and colleagues who work both together and independently, on wireline and wireless communications projects.

Click here left arrow for a summary of their qualifications and experience. Each one has unique abilities. We would be happy to help you with a project, and maybe save you some time and money.

Note: We do not like Patent Trolls, i.e. “a person or company who enforces patent rights against accused infringers in an attempt to collect licensing fees, but does not manufacture products or supply services based upon the patents in question.” We have helped some prominent law firms defend their clients against this annoyance, and would be happy to do some more of this same kind of work.

Some people use the title “consultant” when they don't have a real job. We actually do consulting work, and help others based on our many years of experience.

“If you would know the road ahead, ask someone who has traveled it.”
— Chinese Proverb

Consulting Alliance

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.


Common Features:

  • RJ45 for A, B and Common connectors.
  • Manual push button or use Prism IP commands to switch one or more relays.
  • Single or Dual Port Control card for IP or Serial connection.
  • Form C relay—control local connection.
  • Power Loss Indicator.
  • Rear Panel Connector for controlling the switch externally.
  • Power Source: 5VDC for ABX-1; 12VDC for ABX-3.

Prism-IPX Systems LLC.

11175 Cicero Dr., Alpharetta, GA 30022
Ph: 678-242-5290 Email:

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Red Cross volunteer shares what's in his disaster kit

Are you as prepared for a disaster as a Red Cross volunteer? Find out how one volunteer prepares for an emergency.

Author: Michelle Li
Published: 12:31 PM PDT September 4, 2018
Updated: 12:52 PM PDT September 5, 2018

Monty Burich is an American Red Cross volunteer and disaster preparedness expert. We sat down with him to find out why he volunteers and how he is emergency-ready.

*Scroll down for a list of disaster kit items and links*

What exactly do you do as a Red Cross Volunteer?

Well, my daughter Caitlin and I are disaster preparedness educators who teach communities and companies about preparing themselves, their families, their friends, or employees how to prepare for many different types of disasters both natural and man-made.

I am also trained as a Disaster Action Team (DAT) member who is trained to respond to disasters as well as support local Red Cross shelters during disasters. I also teach citizen CPR, which is a more simplified version of the full First Aid, CPR, AED class we offer at the American Red Cross. These are offered periodically for those who may not want to learn the entire complement of skills but would like to know some really basic stuff in the event that something happens.

There are so many things to do in the Red Cross. Areas that are in typically high demand are nurses and people who can speak different languages. But even if you don’t have those skills, there is probably something you will connect with as a volunteer within the team. Like radios? Come on down! Like Shelter Work? Come on down! Like data entry? Come on down! There is a little of something in the American Red Cross.

Volunteering doesn’t take all your available time, but if you want to donate a lot of time, you are welcome to. I work a 10-hour a day job during the day and allot a small amount of my time to the Red Cross. My daughter attends high school and is also a cheerleader — her time is far and few, but we both commit to giving time to the Red Cross when we are able. So, for a working family, you can volunteer with a little planning and understanding.

Why are you so passionate about emergency preparedness?

In 2001, I lived in Spanaway, not far the epicenter of the Nisqually quake. When it struck, I was shocked at how little control over the situation I had. Everything was moving. After the event of 2001, I made a decision that some way, I wanted to find a way to prevent my kids from struggling in a disaster, and I wanted to help others learn also.

I joined a local Community Emergency Preparedness Team (CERT) in Kent. The CERT Class, which is still offered today in many cities, gave me the basic skills to be able to help people when police and fire may initially be tied up following an incident. Think of CERT as a citizen responder. While you do not gain the advanced training of our hard-working professional rescuers and law enforcement officials, you will know enough to be able to help your family and people in need. After I did all this, I gravitated to joining the American Red Cross.

My daughter Caitlin also wanted to join to be able to help. A lot of kids don’t understand there is a place for them at the American Red Cross if they want to volunteer.

Recently, I joined another organization that deals with situations such as these. It’s called the Civil Air Patrol. It’s an organization that is an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force that deals with emergency services and search and rescues as well as many other missions. One of these missions deals with teaching cadets how to prepare and deal with situations such as disasters. The kids range from 12-18 where after they can become a senior member and join aerial search teams. It’s a great program for kids and adults who want to learn about how they can help.

If people are feeling overwhelmed about getting ready, what advice can you give them?

First step (Plan):

Slow down and take a deep breath, it’s a lot to take in! You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars today to be prepared. It starts with a meeting with your family or friends and planning about what they would do in a major event. How would we communicate? How would we survive on our own? Do we have enough supplies? Do we have the training? Once you have discussed and listed it, you can take action.

Second step (Prepare some kits):

After getting a plan together, now it’s time to gather supplies. You can go the American Red Cross website for a list of items you should have in your kits — yes, I said kits. Always have more than one. A small one for the car, a small one for the office, a large one at home, small kits for the kids' backpacks. Kits don’t have to be super elaborate, but they should contain the basics. You can buy a pre-made kit, but that will get you about 80% complete. You will need to add items such as medications, documents, comfort foods, toys, animal food, baby items, glasses, utensils, entertainment (playing cards, books, etc.)

Third step (Get some knowledge):

Get informed! Time to learn some good skills that can help. Learn First Aid, CPR, and how to use an AED. You can take a class through your local American Red Cross Chapter or utilize another service depending on where you live. If you are already first-aid trained, take a wilderness first aid training!

Next, sign up for a local CERT class if your area hosts one. You can find out information through your local fire department or emergency management office. You can also locate one through the website.

Often these classes are free for residents or the fees are very inexpensive. You can get practical training like shutting off a gas line, carrying people out of a building, putting out small fires, triage, and light search and rescue. These are often taught by the people who respond to fires and emergencies on a daily basis.

When all else fails during an emergency . . . where do we go?

Connect with your neighbors (preferably well before the disaster occurs). See if they are willing to help you if your home becomes unlivable. If there is nowhere else to go, look for a local shelter. The American Red Cross will set up shelters throughout the area.

Places to look for shelters will be community centers, schools, public buildings, and some VFW halls. Bottom line — be as prepared as you can, but if you are truly needing help, shelters will be available soon after an event.

What is the one thing you want people to take away from your story?

Please, take some time to be prepared. Your family is counting on you to make it through a disaster, so do them the favor and honor that trust. It’s not always easy to talk about the potential for a life-altering disaster, but remember it’s too late to talk about planning once the disaster has occurred. For people on a budget, you can also do this. I, too, live on a tight budget, but one additional can of food, or a small tool, or even 2 extra bottles of water on each grocery shopping trip will help make all the difference. If you remember one statement from me, it’s that having some of a kit, is better than having no kit at all.

PHOTO: Monty Burich

Name some items in your disaster kits:

Communication items:

  • Emergency contact list including out-of-area and local contacts, doctor info, insurance info, and address.
  • Phone charger cable and power supply for your phone
  • Handheld battery-operated radio
  • Spare batteries
  • Hand crank radio with built-in phone charger capability Optional
  • Handheld CB radio
  • HAM radio license and small HAM radio
  • FRS Radios for family communication if separated short distances such as helping neighbors.

Food and water:

  • Plastic utensils
  • Napkins * Salty sweet snack mixes
  • MREs (Meals Ready to Eat)
  • Dried Fruit or veggies snacks
  • Granola bars
  • Energy bars
  • Candy for comfort
  • water (Gallon per person per day is what we typically consume, so adjust as needed)
  • Juice boxes (For kiddos)
  • Baby bottles and formula (For little ones)
  • Some water for the family pet.


  • First-aid Kit
  • Small signal mirror
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Matches or fire starter and a few magazine or newspaper to use as kindling or reading material during an event.
  • Paper Maps (City, State)
  • Compass and instructions
  • Small candles (Outdoor use only, do not burn them inside the car!)
  • Jumper Cables
  • Folding shovel
  • Blankets
  • Solar Blankets to help preserve body hear or reflect extreme heat
  • Jackets and other warm water-resistant clothing and boots / Ponchos
  • Flares
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Inflated Spare tire or Inflater kit (Some cars no longer have spare tires)
  • Duct Tape
  • Car jack and tools
  • Medium to Large tote with wheels if possible to lug around.


  • ½ tank minimum fuel in the cars gas tank
  • Good wipers
  • Regular oil changes and maintenance

Other items:

© 2018 KING



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Leavitt Communications

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We can supply alphanumeric display, numeric display, and voice pagers.

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Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Volume 6 | Issue 172

Tower Construction Manager Invents “Game Changing” Gin Pole

By Jim Fryer, Managing Editor, Inside Towers

Guy Bonifas, inventor of a no-crane gin pole, his sketches and final patent

It’s not often you run into a “game changer” as Guy Bonifas of Montgomery, AL calls his new invention. As a construction manager with Crown Castle for the past six years, Bonifas has had a front row seat to the trials, tribulations and dangers involved in gin pole usage at tower sites.

“After witnessing numerous tower crews fight with the new heavier multiport antennas,” to get them into position on the sector mounts, he told Inside Towers, “ I started thinking how much safer and easier and cheaper it could be if we take the crane out of the equation.” He began designing the device in 2007, with some quick sketches on an Office Depot pad (see above). Eureka! The Spartacus Gin Pole was born.

“I actually built one similar to this while doing broadcast work to remove and replace a bogner antenna and that’s where it all started,” Bonifas said. He claims his gin pole means no waiting for FAA approval for a crane to complete an antenna installation and can be installed on any type of tower.

“Even if it’s installed at the top of the tower it will not exceed the authorized FAA height,” he said. The Spartacus will require a Class IV Rigging Plan to use and should be out of fabrication in a couple of weeks.


Plane Crashes Into TV Tower Killing the Pilot and His Daughter

A Piper Cherokee plane crashed into a television tower in Kaplan, LA at 8 a.m. Friday morning in the Vermilion Parish, with two fatalities reported by KATC-TV. The tower was collapsed by the contact with the plane. According to Inside Towers database records, the tower is owned by KATC-TV in Lafayette, was built in 1978 and is 1,791 foot tall (ASR: 1020983). Located at 7740 Rosewood Road, it was used solely by radio station KAJN.

The Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office reported the FAA and National Transportation and Safety Board will investigate the crash and provide updated information as it becomes available. The deceased were identified as a 45-year old man from Seabrook, TX, the pilot of the aircraft, and his six-year old daughter.

The station is broadcasting on a 1500 Watts facility temporarily until new equipment is in place.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018 Volume 6 | Issue 173

CA Man Pleads Guilty to Threatening Pai’s Children

UPDATE Thirty-three year-old Markara Man of Norwalk, CA, pleaded guilty Friday to threatening to kill the children of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced on December 7, reported the Associated Press.

Man admitted he sent several e-mails to Pai in December to scare the Chairman because he was upset about the agency’s action to repeal the previous administration’s Net Neutrality rules, Inside Towers reported. Defense lawyers said in court papers filed with federal court in Alexandria, VA that mental illness contributed to Man’s actions and he’s now receiving treatment.

Ars Technica reported Man’s attorney asked the court to release him, pending sentencing. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Virginia opposed that, writing that “incarceration is, by its very nature, a hardship, and neither the defendant’s mental health status nor the nature of his conviction is rare or uncommon.”

In a statement yesterday, Pai said: “I would like to thank the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, local law enforcement, and FCC security officials for their hard work protecting my family and me.”

Source: Inside Towers newsletter Courtesy of the editor of Inside Towers.

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BloostonLaw Newsletter

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Selected portions [sometimes more — sometimes less] 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.

 BloostonLaw Telecom Update Vol. 21, No. 38 September 5, 2018 

REMINDER: FCC Transparency Requirements Now In Effect

It appears that the FCC has been enquiring as to individual carriers’ compliance with its ISP transparency requirements. The transparency requirements, which went into effect on June 11, were adopted as a part of the Order repealing Net Neutrality rules. Per these requirements, INTERNET service providers must publicly disclose information regarding their network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of service. These disclosures must be made via a publicly available, easily accessible company website or through the FCC’s website.

Carriers with questions about these requirements should contact the firm for more information. We can help clients bolster the transparency disclosures made to the public to help ensure compliance.

BloostonLaw Contacts: Gerry Duffy and Sal Taillefer.


FCC Releases Regulatory Fee Order – Fees Due September 25, 2018

The FCC has released its regulatory fee order for FY2018. Regulatory fees will be due by 11:59 PM on Tuesday, September 25, 2018. In this regard, the FCC has opened its Fee Filer System in order to facilitate the payment of the annual regulatory fees. Like last year, the threshold amount for de minimis regulatory fees will be $1,000. Thus, if the total regulatory fee liability for a particular entity is less than $1,000, it will be exempt from the payment of regulatory fees. In that case, we recommend that a letter be filed with the FCC that demonstrates the regulated entity is exempt from the payment of the fee so that further inquiry from the FCC can be avoided. Additionally, unlike prior years, this year’s regulatory fees have either held steady or are reduced across various categories of wireless and wireline services. It is only in a few rare instances where the fees have increased from last year.

We will be providing more detailed information to you in a memorandum which describes the regulatory fee program and any changes for this year.

BloostonLaw Contact: Richard Rubino

FCC Commissioner Carr Announces FCC Plan to Speed 5G Deployments

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr on Tuesday unveiled a proposal to cut costs and streamline approval periods for small cells—the physical building blocks of 5G – in a speech before Indiana General Assembly. Carr was joined by Indiana Senator Todd Young and U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, who is co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional 5G Caucus.

The speech focused on “Grassroots Leadership on 5G” and highlighted how minimizing burdensome regulations could pave the way for widespread investments in local communities.

“5G will create jobs, improve education, and promote public safety. But to upgrade our networks, we must upgrade our regulations,” said Commissioner Carr. “Policymakers can’t claim success if 5G is only deployed in big cities like New York and San Francisco. Those ‘must serve’ cities will get next-gen mobile broadband almost regardless of what we do. Success means every community getting a fair shot at 5G. To achieve that success, we need to update our rules to match this revolutionary new technology.”

Carr’s proposal, which is set to be voted on at the FCC’s Open Meeting on September 25th, is modeled on the small cell bills enacted in 20 states across the country. The bills aim to reform laws that were typically designed years ago to address issues raised by macro-cell networks—the 200-foot towers that were built to cover large areas with legacy wireless service. Small cells, most of which are the size of small backpacks, are most often attached to existing structures, such as light poles or buildings. The recently-enacted state small cell bills limit the fees that localities can charge to process construction and permitting applications for small cells, and they require localities to approve or disapprove small cell deployment within a certain time frame.

Indiana enacted forward-thinking small cell legislation in 2017, which paved the way for small cell deployment, especially in rights of way. Since passing its bill, Indiana has seen outsized investment from wireless providers. Two of the largest wireless providers have announced that 5G-capable service will go live in Indianapolis this year, making the city home to the most intensive 5G investment in America. In total, providers have built more than 1,000 small cells in 30 communities across the Hoosier state.

The FCC has announced four main components of the small cell proposal:

  • Implements long-standing federal law that bars municipal rules that have the effect of prohibiting deployment of wireless service
  • Allows municipalities to charge fees for reviewing small cell deployments when such fees are limited to recovering the municipalities’ costs, and provides guidance on specific fee levels that would comply with this standard
  • Requires municipalities to approve or disapprove applications to attach small cells to existing structures within 60 days and applications to build new small cell poles within 90 days
  • Places modest guardrails on other municipal rules that may prohibit service while reaffirming localities’ traditional roles in, for example, reasonable aesthetic reviews

According to a recent study, Carr’s plan will save $2 billion in unnecessary fees, stimulate $2.5 billion in additional small cell deployments, and create more than 27,000 jobs. The action will also help close the digital divide, providing new connections to those who need them most. The economic analysis shows that Carr’s plan will see two million more homes served by small cells—97% of them in rural and suburban communities.

BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Cary Mitchell.

VPDs Reminded of Television Emergency Information Accessibility Obligations

On August 30, the FCC issued a Public Notice reminding video programming distributors (VPDs) – including broadcasters, cable operators, satellite television services, and “any other distributor of video programming for residential reception that delivers such programming directly to the home” – of their obligation under section 79.2 of the Commission’s rules to make televised emergency information accessible to persons with disabilities.

To ensure access to emergency information by persons who are blind or visually impaired, Commission rules require that emergency information provided in the video portion of a regularly scheduled newscast or a newscast that interrupts regular programming be made accessible by aurally describing the emergency information in the main audio portion of the programming. Commission rules also require access to emergency information provided in the audio portion of programming to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing using closed captioning or other methods of visual presentation, including open captioning, crawls or scrolls that appear on the screen. While not required by the Commission’s rules, VPDs and video programmers are “encouraged” to make alerts accessible to people with cognitive disabilities. To achieve this, it would be helpful to provide emergency information and instructions in plain language, and through multiple means (e.g., maps, charts, and other pictorial information).

Under section 79.2, emergency information is defined as “[i]nformation, about a current emergency, that is intended to further the protection of life, health, safety, and property, i.e., critical details regarding the emergency and how to respond to the emergency.” Critical details include, but are not limited to, “details regarding the areas that will be affected by the emergency, evacuation orders, detailed descriptions of areas to be evacuated, specific evacuation routes, approved shelters or the way to take shelter in one’s home, instructions on how to secure personal property, road closures, and how to obtain relief assistance.”

BloostonLaw Contacts: Gerry Duffy, John Prendergast, and Sal Taillefer.

Law & Regulation

Comment Deadline Established for Mobility Fund Phase II Speed Test Data Timeframe

On August 30, the FCC published in the Federal Register its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to modify the timeframe for collecting acceptable speed test data in support of Mobility Fund II eligibility challenges. Comments are due September 10, and reply comments are due September 14.

In the NPRM, the Commission extended the previously announced deadline for the close of the Mobility Fund Phase II (MF-II) challenge window by an additional 90 days until November 26, 2018, during which period challengers may submit speed test data in support of a challenge. The Commission adopted this extension to ensure that interested parties can initiate and submit speed test data for areas they wish to challenge. Given this extension, the Commission proposed to make modifications to the speed test data specifications regarding the relevant timeframes for valid speed tests.

BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Cary Mitchell.

California Lawmakers Vote to Pass Toughest Net Neutrality Law So Far

On August 31, The Washington Post reported that California lawmakers voted to pass “the nation’s toughest net neutrality law,” which if signed by the Governor would bar providers from collecting new fees from apps and sites as a condition of reaching Internet users. And the law would make it illegal for carriers to exempt apps from consumers’ monthly data caps if doing so could harm competing start-ups and small businesses in “abusive” ways.

Specifically, this bill prohibits ISPs from engaging in certain activities that impact a consumer’s ability to lawfully access content on the Internet, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Intentionally blocking lawful content, slowing or speeding traffic, or otherwise interfering with access to lawful content on the basis of source, destination, INTERNET content, application, or service, or use of a non-harmful device.
  • Engaging in third-party paid prioritization.
  • Selectively zero-rating some INTERNET content, applications, services, or devices or zero-rating in exchange for consideration or payment.
  • Engaging in practices that have the purpose of evading net neutrality requirements. This prohibition may not be construed as prohibiting ISP traffic exchange agreements that comply with net neutrality requirements.
  • Failing to publicly disclose accurate information about the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of its broadband INTERNET access services to enable consumers to make informed choices about those services.
  • Requiring consideration from edge providers, monetary or otherwise, for access to an ISP’s end users.

“This is basic consumer protections, protecting small and mid-size businesses, protecting activists and labor unions and anyone else who uses the INTERNET,” said Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener, the bill’s sponsor, who represents the San Francisco area.

Legislators in 30 states have introduced over 72 bills requiring INTERNET service providers to ensure various net neutrality principles. Governors in Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Montana, Rhode Island, and Vermont have signed executive orders. Oregon, Vermont, and Washington have already enacted net neutrality legislation.

BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Mary Sisak and Sal Taillefer.


Arielle Roth Announced as Wireline Advisor to Commissioner O’Rielly

On August 30, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly announced that he has hired Arielle Roth as wireline advisor in his office. Ms. Roth intends to begin work on September 4, 2018.

Commissioner O’Rielly commented “I am so pleased that Ms. Roth has agreed to join my office. Her expertise in wireline communications issues and firm commitment to free market principles will be extremely valuable in the many matters before the Commission. I am very confident that the addition of Ms. Roth will strengthen my immensely talented team.”

Ms. Roth was at that time employed as legal advisor in the Wireline Competition Bureau where she provided counsel on universal service and pricing matters. Prior to this position, she served as a legal fellow for the Hudson Institute’s Center for the Economics of the INTERNET She will be replacing Amy Bender, who departed the Commission on August 31, 2018.

USDA Launches Rural e-Connectivity Website

On August 29, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue unveiled a new webpage featuring information about the importance of rural e-Connectivity and the ways the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing to help deploy high-speed broadband infrastructure in rural America.

“Rural high-speed broadband e-Connectivity is as important for economic development as rail, roads, bridges and airports – and as vital as the buildouts of rural telephone networks were decades ago,” Perdue said. “USDA is committed to being a strong partner with rural leaders in deploying this essential infrastructure.”

The new website includes a feedback form for the general public and interested stakeholders to provide input on the design and requirements of the new pilot program.

In April 2017, President Trump established the Inter-agency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump, which included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America.

The Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity can be found here. In addition, the view the categories of the recommendations are available in the Rural Prosperity infographic, available here.


OCTOBER 1: FCC FORM 396-C, MVPD EEO PROGRAM REPORTING FORM. Each year on September 30, multi-channel video program distributors (“MVPDs”) must file with the FCC an FCC Form 396-C, Multi-Channel Video Programming Distributor EEO Program Annual Report, for employment units with six or more full-time employees. Because September 30 falls on a Sunday this year, the filing will be due the following business day on October 1. Users must access the FCC’s electronic filing system via the INTERNET in order to submit the form; it will not be accepted if filed on paper unless accompanied by an appropriate request for waiver of the electronic filing requirement. Certain MVPDs also will be required to complete portions of the Supplemental Investigation Sheet (“SIS”) located at the end of the Form. These MVPDs are specifically identified in a Public Notice each year by the FCC.

BloostonLaw Contacts: Gerry Duffy and Sal Taillefer.

OCTOBER 15: 911 RELIABILITY CERTIFICATION. Covered 911 Service Providers, which are defined as entities that “[p]rovide[] 911, E911, or NG911 capabilities such as call routing, automatic location information (ALI), automatic number identification (ANI), or the functional equivalent of those capabilities, directly to a public safety answering point (PSAP), statewide default answering point, or appropriate local emergency authority,” or that “[o]perate[] one or more central offices that directly serve a PSAP,” are required certify that they have taken reasonable measures to provide reliable 911 service with respect to three substantive requirements: (i) 911 circuit diversity; (ii) central office backup power; and (iii) diverse network monitoring by October 15. Certifications must be made through the FCC’s portal.

BloostonLaw Contacts: Mary Sisak and Sal Taillefer.

NOVEMBER 1: FCC FORM 499-Q, TELECOMMUNICATIONS REPORTING WORKSHEET. All telecommunications common carriers that expect to contribute more than $10,000 to federal Universal Service Fund (USF) support mechanisms must file this quarterly form. The FCC has modified this form in light of its decision to establish interim measures for USF contribution assessments. The form contains revenue information from the prior quarter plus projections for the next quarter. Form 499-Q relates only to USF contributions. It does not relate to the cost recovery mechanisms for the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund, the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), and the shared costs of local number portability (LNP), which are covered in the annual Form 499-A that is due April 1.

BloostonLaw Contacts: Mary Sisak and Sal Taillefer.

Calendar At-a-Glance

Sep. 5 – Reply comments are due on Verizon IP Switching Declaratory Ruling.
Sep. 5 – Reply comments are due on USTelecom Petition for Forbearance.
Sep. 5 – Reply comments are due on FM Translator Interference FNPRM.
Sep. 7 – Reply comments are due on 2.5GHz Transformation NPRM.
Sep. 7 – Oppositions are due on Sprint’s IP CTS Petitions.
Sep. 10 – Reply comments are due on Extension of Jurisdictional Separations Freeze.
Sep. 10 – Comments are due by 5:00 p.m. EDT on e-Connectivity Pilot Program.
Sep. 10 – Comments are due on Mobility Fund Phase II Speed Test Data Timeframe Extension.
Sep. 14 – Reply comments are due on Mobility Fund Phase II Speed Test Data Timeframe Extension.
Sep. 17 – Comments are due on IP CTS NPRM.
Sep. 17 – Replies to oppositions are due on Sprint’s IP CTS Petitions.
Sep. 20 – ETRS Form Two is due.
Sep. 24 – Comments are due on FCC Request to Refresh the Record on Robocalling.
Sep. 25 – Regulatory Fees Due.

Oct. 1 – FCC Form 396-C (MVPD EEO Program Annual Report).
Oct. 1 – Reply comments are due on Toll-Free Arbitrage FNPRM.
Oct. 8 – Reply comments are due on FCC Request to Refresh the Record on Robocalling.
Oct. 15 – 911 Reliability Certifications are due.
Oct. 15 – Auction 903 Long Form is due.
Oct. 16 – Reply comments are due on IP CTS NPRM.
Oct. 16 – Comments are due on IP CTS NOI.
Oct. 29 – Comments are due on 2005-2006 Rule Elimination PN.
Oct. 29 – Comments are due on 3.7 GHz NPRM.

Nov. 1 – FCC Form 499-Q (Quarterly Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet) is due.
Nov. 5 – ETRS Form Three is due.
Nov. 15 – Reply comments are due on IP CTS NOI.
Nov. 27 – Reply comments are due on 3.7 GHz NPRM.

This newsletter is not intended to provide legal advice. Those interested in more information should contact the firm.


Harold Mordkofsky, 202-828-5520,
Benjamin H. Dickens, Jr., 202-828-5510,
Gerard J. Duffy, 202-828-5528,
John A. Prendergast, 202-828-5540,
Richard D. Rubino, 202-828-5519,
Mary J. Sisak, 202-828-5554,
D. Cary Mitchell, 202-828-5538,
Salvatore Taillefer, Jr., 202-828-5562,

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FEMA couldn’t keep pace with 2017 disasters

Joel Achenbach and Arelis R. Hernández
The Washington Post
September 4, 2018

WASHINGTON — The Federal Emergency Management Agency was stretched thin and overwhelmed in 2017 by the sequence of major hurricanes and wildfires that caused disasters across the country, according to a massive Government Accountability Office “performance audit” released Tuesday.

The GAO report concludes that FEMA generally carried out its duties as expected when responding within the continental United States — to hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the California wildfires — but it found that FEMA was not ready for what Hurricane Maria did to Puerto Rico.

“They were completely overwhelmed from a workforce standpoint,” Chris Currie, the GAO director for emergency management issues and leader of the audit, said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. “Once Maria hit, their staff resources were pretty exhausted. Their other commodities and resources were exhausted.”

Some of the FEMA staff deployed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands “were not physically able to handle the extreme or austere environment of the territories, which detracted from mission needs,” according to the report. FEMA officials told the auditors that “the physical fitness of staff could be assessed” before future deployments.

At one point last October — as FEMA struggled to respond to multiple disasters — 54 percent of FEMA’s deployed workers were forced to perform tasks for which they did not meet the agency’s standard of “qualified,” the report states. And many staffers couldn’t speak Spanish, something that hindered efforts in Puerto Rico: “FEMA did not have enough bilingual employees to communicate with local residents or translate documents.”

FEMA had problems locating people on the islands “because many affected areas did not have posted addresses, many individuals use nicknames instead of their given names, and often several families were located on a single property,” the report states.

Officials in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands had prepared for a natural disaster before the arrival of Hurricane Maria, but “neither had recently experienced nor stockpiled the resources necessary for a hurricane of that magnitude,” the report states.

The report, titled “2017 Hurricanes and Wildfires: Initial Observations on the Federal Response and Key Recovery Challenges,” makes no specific recommendations, but says the GAO is conducting a comprehensive review of how the federal government plans for and responds to disasters.

FEMA’s own in-house report, released in July, acknowledged that the agency had not anticipated that two storms might hit Puerto Rico in rapid succession or that the destruction would be as broad and intense as what Maria delivered last September.

The earlier FEMA report noted that in mid-September, before Maria arrived, officials on Puerto Rico shipped the bulk of the island’s emergency supplies to the U.S. Virgin Islands, which had been hit hard by Hurricane Irma. When Maria roared in, Puerto Rico was low on food, water, tarps, cots and other supplies.

FEMA officials have repeatedly said that the agency is not supposed to be the first responder after a disaster, instead emphasizing that localities and states should have that responsibility. But Hurricane Maria blew up that protocol, the new GAO report suggests: “FEMA essentially served as the first responder in the early response efforts in Puerto Rico.”

The report notes that the remoteness of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands “complicated” the FEMA response, as did the “outdated local infrastructure.”

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Currie highlighted the infrastructure challenges.

“In Puerto Rico, you had the absolute destruction of the system,” he said. “It wasn’t just about stringing line and putting up power poles but the complete restoration of the system.”

The island territory faced major logistical challenges in delivering materials and parts that had to be manufactured elsewhere and shipped to Puerto Rico. Normally, Currie said, a state would receive assistance through mutual aid agreements with neighboring states, but that capacity was limited in Puerto Rico. The GAO plans to take a closer look at power restoration and evaluate the work of the Army Corps of Engineers in a future report.

Currie said FEMA wasn’t prepared for Maria: “I think FEMA didn’t do as good a job as they could’ve done to anticipate” such a devastating hurricane.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria had similar wind speeds when they struck the United States - each was a Category 4 storm at landfall - but beyond that they had unique features and presented distinct challenges.

Harvey stalled as soon at is reached the Texas coast, inundating Southeast Texas with 50 inches of rain in less than a week. Houston and other coastal cities flooded catastrophically, and tens of thousands of people were driven from their homes.

Irma’s path was unusual - straight up the Florida peninsula, creating storm impacts throughout the state. Evacuations shut down the state for the better part of a week. Millions of people lost electrical power.

Maria was the deadliest by far. It slammed Puerto Rico on its southeast coast and rolled across the island, knocking out 100 percent of the electrical grid and 95 percent of cellphone towers, triggering a collapse in emergency communications. Although officials initially attributed 64 deaths to the storm, the humanitarian crisis on the island led to many more deaths, and last week the government embraced as its official death toll the new estimate from researchers at George Washington University, which showed 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico in the six months after Maria’s landfall.


Santa Fe New Mexican

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From: Albert Erdmann  
Subject: Using SMS for Critical Alerts Compared to Paging
Date: September 5, 2018 at 4:33:37 PM CDT
To: Brad Dye

Because of the reduction of total transmitters on American Messaging in my area and the reduction of range for many sites, I have began sending alerts via SMS as backup to paging.

My main critical alert testing device is a cron job on a Linux box that tests the connectivity to each tested server each minute, and reports any changes to me via e-mail. On my mail server, received e-mail triggers pager alerts via a procmail script. I have added a SMS texting script.

The pager script that I have used and modified as required for the last 20 years uses a text browser to send a summary of my e-mail to the AMS website for delivery to my pager. A new script has been written to send an e-mail to my T-mobile phone that generates an SMS. There are two different processes at T-mobile for processing e-mails sent to phones which are SMS (messages less than 160 characters and no attachments) and MMS (all other messages). MMS messages often encounter delays for virus scanning and other reasons, so T-mobile recommends that all Computer Aided Dispatch or automated messages be less than 160 characters and use plain text and no attachments for fastest delivery. The script used strips the Subject and Body of the message down so the message will never exceeds 160 characters, so it can be delivered by the faster SMS method.

I started testing SMS in May, 2018. I have received enough alerts to compare. The pager script runs first, and takes about a full second to complete, therefore it does have a slight time advantage over the SMS script. I have received in excess of 1000 alerts that were received by both pager and SMS and so far the score is 8 messages that T-mobile delivered first, before they were received on the pager. It appears that this delay is caused by heavy traffic on the paging channel during heavy use periods.  All remaining times the pager has received the message first.

As for notification times, about 50% of the time the SMS comes within 1 minute of the pager notification. The remaining times are longer, and I have had a couple of times when the SMS message took over an hour to be delivered.

The SMS system does have one advantage over the one way page, that is the fact it is store and forward.  Thus, unlike one way paging, every message will eventually be delivered, with one annoying exception.  This exception is when the script attempts to deliver a notice containing the e-mail address of e-mail identified as spam, the message is silently dropped with NO warning other than a bounce message, and both the pager and SMS systems are sent that additional bounce message. I have asked T-mobile to whitelist my IP, but this problem still happens.

Another problem with SMS is it cannot not work if my phone is not locked onto T-mobile service. While AMS has its spotty coverage areas, T-Mobile actually has more total area where there is no coverage, even in the middle of urban areas like Orlando and Tampa. The pager of course has no signal issue in most urban areas. When there is no service on the phone, there is no SMS reception.

On the other hand, I have NEVER caught AMS not sending out the message if it is loaded into their system. There are no silently dropped messages.

As for pages not received, I have determined that every page sent by my server was in fact broadcast by the AMS network. I can tell this because I leave an extra pager at home where it is close enough to the transmitter to never miss a page and therefore I can check what happened with missed pages. I have also installed an antenna jack into a pager, attached to an antenna on the roof of my car, and this pager is able to receive pages in many cases when my normal belt pager does not.  I also have a "jig" that I use at my weekend spot made out of an old satellite dish. A pager is placed at the focus point and the dish is pointed at the paging transmitter which allows me to receive pages at this weak signal location by providing additional receive gain.

Another limitation of both the Pager and SMS notifications is that without an Internet connection, both fail. Thus, there has to be a way to notify me if a site Internet connection has failed. Since there is an analog telephone line at most locations, the Internet failure notice is delivered via TAP/IXO using that line and a modem. There is no way I can think of to deliver the same message via SMS. I have considered using a dial up Internet account for this purpose, but this would not work, since all available dial-up services filter out port 25 as a spam prevention measure, preventing any e-mail delivery of any such notices.

Since I spend most of my time in urban areas near AMS transmitters, overall I rate the pager as the best of the two methods to deliver critical messages. One of the issues is the unreliable service levels of T-mobile service at less than a watt, versus the 300+ watt transmitters of AMS. In more rural areas, T-mobile does place its towers higher, but it is clear that this does not fully compensate for fewer towers in a given area.

Of course it has been well discussed that the backup battery lifetime is the biggest issue to keeping cell sites up during power outages occurring during hurricanes and otherwise. Even if the cell itself remains powered, often the T1 or other connection to the rest of the switching network will fail, taking the site down anyway. Cell, cable and landline networks have multiple points of failure, while paging is only dependent on power at the transmitter site, and reception from the sky. The only real issue is rain fade on the down-link which usually only happens during the periods of extreme rain, and only happens during the storm itself.

Backup batteries fail in either the site, or the communication equipment that feeds the site. Clearly paging wins this disaster battle for reliability. I have seen these factors in operation following many storms here in Florida. Generally both the cell, landline phone and the cable companies continue to operate during the storm, but die out 4-8 hours afterwards when the backup batteries die until a generator is deployed or the power is restored, which can be days to weeks during a severe storm.

The trend of AMS to locate their transmitters at hospitals, and therefore the ability of AMS to use generator power from the hospital and take advantage of power company policies to place hospitals on the top of the list for power restoration clearly helps AMS in a disaster. The hospital receives both priority with generator fuel, and priority in power restoration, both of which help AMS keep their system in operation.

Albert Erdmann

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“Those who stand at the threshold of life always waiting for the right time to change are like the man who stands at the bank of a river waiting for the water to pass so he can cross on dry land.”

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Brad and Friend

You have heard of Indiana Jones?

Well . . . this was Illinois Brad, circa 1964 in South America.

When I showed this photo to my Mother, she asked, “which one is you?”

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Playing For Change

Playing For Change
Published on May 31, 2018

Morgantown Learning Academy singing for the PFCF Diamante music program. Some of these kids have been involved in SSFC since the beginning, and now they are graduating! We also all learned the ukulele together this year. Hope you enjoy!

Source: YouTube To learn more about the work of the PFC Foundation, visit

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