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Pagers + smartwatches: Hospital teams manage the right mix of mobile tools
By Veronica Combs in Mobility
Doctors, nurses, hospital staff and IT pros have figured out how to add new devices while keeping reliable standbys as well.
After years of rapid change, IT leaders at hospital systems have found a good balance between adopting new communications technology and sticking with what works, according to a new survey by Spōk.
Spōk surveyed 460 healthcare professionals in America to measure changes in mobile communications usage at hospitals.
On the downside, Wi-Fi coverage is still a challenge, and a surprising number of survey respondents don't know what their emergency back-up plan is.
The good news is that the majority of respondents report that the speed, ability to reach others, and information quality had either stayed the same or improved in the past year.
IT teams have made significant progress on many fronts when compared to problems reported in 2016.
Mobile devices are fully integrated into the daily workflow at hospitals with doctors and nurses using phones and tablets to do everything from sending text messages to checking alerts to viewing test results.
Communication is the top use for mobile devices, but healthcare-related initiatives are also important.
Pagers are still important in hospitals, but mostly for staff members, not doctors and nurses. More than half of nonclinical staff—housekeepers, transport technicians, dietary staff, etc.—use pagers as their primary communication device for work. Seventy-five percent of hospitals support at least one type of pager. The breakdown is:
Smartwatches are still the least supported device, but usage has gone up to 10% in 2019 compared to 4% in 2015.
In terms of new communications technologies, hospital teams are considering secure text messaging, improving communication between devices and the EHR, and improving Wi-Fi coverage. Among hospitals teams who don't have secure text messaging, 57% are evaluating that service.
However, plans to improve patient communication are not high on the to-do list:
Now that the infrastructure for daily communications is in place, it sounds like hospitals need to focus on emergency plans. For 60% of respondents, overhead paging is the fallback plan when cellular networks are down or overloaded, followed by in-house paging.
The real emergency is that approximately 20% of respondents did not know what their back-up plan was. Only 6% chose improving business continuity planning as the biggest opportunity.
The 460 respondents included:
The rest of the respondents were IT staff, business analysts, pharmacists, and people who provided patient services. [source TechRepublic]
NO POLITICS HERE
This doesn't mean that nothing is ever published here that mentions a US political party—it just means that the editorial policy of this newsletter is to remain neutral on all political issues. We don't take sides.
A new issue of the Wireless Messaging Newsletter is posted on the web each week. A notification goes out by e-mail to subscribers on most Fridays around noon central US time. The notification message has a link to the actual newsletter on the web. That way it doesn’t fill up your incoming e-mail account.
There is no charge for subscription and there are no membership restrictions. Readers are a very select group of wireless industry professionals, and include the senior managers of many of the world’s major Paging and Wireless Messaging companies. There is an even mix of operations managers, marketing people, and engineers — so I try to include items of interest to all three groups. It’s all about staying up-to-date with business trends and technology.
I regularly get readers’ comments, so this newsletter has become a community forum for the Paging, and Wireless Messaging communities. You are welcome to contribute your ideas and opinions. Unless otherwise requested, all correspondence addressed to me is subject to publication in the newsletter and on my web site. I am very careful to protect the anonymity of those who request it.
I spend the whole week searching the Internet for news that I think may be of interest to you — so you won’t have to. This newsletter is an aggregator — a service that aggregates news from other news sources. You can help our community by sharing any interesting news that you find.
Editorial Opinion pieces present only the opinions of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of any of advertisers or supporters. This newsletter is independent of any trade association. I don't intend to hurt anyone's feelings, but I do freely express my own opinions.
We need your help. This is the only remaining news source dedicated to information about Paging and Wireless Messaging.
P.E.I. fire chief frustrated by cell outages during Dorian
CBC September 12, 2019
A number of P.E.I. fire departments struggled to communicate to their members during the height of post-tropical storm Dorian on the weekend, because most routes of communication were down.
Alberton fire Chief Shannon Dumville said landlines, internet and cell service were all down. The only way he could communicate with his firefighters was VHF radio, which lacks the range of other services.
During the 16 hours when most communications were down the department went on five calls. On some of those calls they were short-staffed, because members couldn't be reached by VHF radio.
Dumville said the additional problem is if the department can't reach members, people in trouble might not be able to reach the department.
"If you're at home and something were to happen, you needed help, with all these services now it's hard to get the call out," he said.
Dumville said it might be wise for the province to invest in an Island-wide paging system.
Province-wide system shut down
Just a few months ago the province did have a province-wide paging system.
It was operated by Bell, but the company shut it down on July 2, citing declining usage. It said most users had moved away from pager services, and that it was continually upgrading its wireless technology.
The issue was raised in the legislature on July 3, and Public Safety Minister Bloyce Thompson said many fire departments had already upgraded their paging systems, and there was money available for those that still needed to.
"There is funding through Minister [Jamie] Fox's department, through Communities, and we are working with those to help them get that funding together to get their systems upgraded," said Thompson.
The province has not responded to CBC's request for comment. [source YAHOO! Canada]
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Apple is killing off 235 Mac apps when it launches macOS Catalina – here’s what you should do
By Matt Hanson
How to find out which Mac apps are getting the chop
Apple is likely to officially release macOS Catalina after its iPhone 11 launch event on September 10 wraps up, and while the new operating system for Macs and MacBooks brings plenty of new features, it’s also killing off 235 apps – which means they will no longer be able to run.
This is because macOS Catalina will no longer support 32-bit apps, so any app that hasn’t transitioned over to 64-bit will cease to work.
Apps that will be killed off in macOS Catalina include Transmist 4.1.7, 1Password 2.12.2, iStats Menu 2.9 and QuickBooks 2015. You can view the full list of the apps at The Tape Drive.
While most apps will hopefully have 64-bit updates, there will be many that don’t, which is bad news if you rely on them and upgrade to macOS Catalina.
What should you do?
If you’re concerned that an app you rely on will no longer work in macOS Catalina, you should check to see if you have any 32-bit apps on your system.
To do this, click on the Apple icon at the top of your screen, then select ‘About This Mac’. Click ‘System Report’ and then go to the ‘Software’ section.
Click ‘Applications’ and you’ll see a list of apps. There will be a column called ’64-bit (Intel)’. If an app has ‘No’ in that column, then it means it won’t be supported in macOS Catalina.
You can check the list on The Tape Drive as well to see if your apps are listed there.
If you do have any 32-bit apps installed, you’ll need to check to see if there is a 64-bit version (if the app has a website, it should say whether one is available).
If not, you’ll need to find an alternative app that performs the same function but is 64-bit. Our guide to the best Mac apps will help you.
Sep 10, 2019, 10:59pm
Warning Issued For Millions Of Microsoft Windows 10 Users
Gordon Kelly,Senior Contributor
Windows 10 problems have been coming thick and fast in recent months and Microsoft has been struggling to keep up. And now one particularly troublesome update has struck again.
Picked up by PCMag, Microsoft’s new KB4512941 update has decided that causing CPU usage to spike was just the start because now reports are coming in that it “turns everything orange” or red.
While some users have found only their screenshots turn orange, others report that their whole desktop turns red: “When I start Windows, the login screen looks good, but when I put my credentials and the desktop is shown, it gradually starts turning red,” explained one affected user. “The only element that remains with the correct colour is the mouse pointer. This is an example of how my screen looks like while reading this post.”
While the obvious Trump joke is being made, this is an unwelcome problem for everyone from graphic designers, who need a perfectly calibrated screen, to those who just want to edit their holiday snaps. And the full extent of the discolouration suffered by some users is eye-watering.
As it stands, Microsoft has yet to acknowledge the problem on the update’s official page (confirming the CPU spike problem took several days) but while the company remains silent, the good news is users have found several workarounds.
Some have found success through simply uninstalling the update, while others have managed to fix it through updating their graphics drivers. Windows Latest also notes that owners of Lenovo PCs seem to be particularly affected if they are running the company’s Vantage app alongside the current Windows 10 May (1903) upgrade that Microsoft has been pushing on users since July. In that instance, resetting the app can help.
While the exact number of affected users remains unclear, Lenovo alone is the world’s largest PC reseller. It shipped 16.2M PCs in Q2 and Vantage comes preinstalled. As such, the clear message at this point is to stay away from KB4512941, which is still showing up for anyone who checks for updates.
In fact, with Windows 10 1903 updates in the last month failing to install and breaking Bluetooth connections you might think that avoiding updates, in general, is a good strategy. Unfortunately, with new wormable vulnerabilities in all versions of Windows also appearing (and recently being exploited) that’s not a great option either.
Welcome to a rock and a hard place.
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.
11175 Cicero Dr., Alpharetta, GA 30022
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.
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macOS Catalina Final Release Date Window Announced
By Oliver Haslam | September 11th, 2019
Looking for macOS Catalina final release date window? Apple has just wrapped up its September 10th iPhone event, and now we also know when macOS Catalina will be available to the public. The update will be released in October, although an actual date hasn’t yet been made available.
Apple will be releasing its other software updates such as iOS 13 and watchOS 6 on September 19th, the day before the new iPhones and Apple Watch go on sale. But macOS Catalina won’t be ready in time, perhaps signaling that there is still work to be done. However, Apple has also been known to stage its software updates so we wouldn’t read too much into this staggered release.
With the macOS Catalina update coming in October, and Apple not providing a concrete date, it’s possible it will coincide with another Apple event that has yet to be announced. New Macs and iPad Pros have been announced in October in the past, suggesting the same will happen once again in 2019.
If that is indeed the case, new iPad Pro models and the rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro would likely be at the top of the list for potential announcements. If that’s the case, the final quarter of 2019 looks set to be an expensive one, especially considering today’s iPhone and Apple Watch unveiling.
There’s a Mac Pro and display still to have their release dates confirmed, too. That new Apple Card looks set to get a workout!
Stay tuned for more announcements and tidbits from Apple’s September 10 event.
Brad's comments, as sent to The New York Times:
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.
11175 Cicero Dr., Alpharetta, GA 30022
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.
11175 Cicero Dr., Alpharetta, GA 30022
Wireless Network Planners
Regulatory Fee Payments Due September 29, 2019
Electronic Filing is Mandatory
The FCC has announced that all annual regulatory fee payments for fiscal year 2019 will be due no later than Tuesday, September 24, 2019. However, as discussed below, the FCC’s financial management software has been known to put licensees into “red light” status even when they have timely paid their regulatory fees, if the fee payment has not been processed by the deadline. Therefore, we recommend submitting the fee payment several days before the September 24, 2019 deadline if at all possible. Please let us know if you need assistance in preparing and/or making your regulatory fee payments. We can also help clients by preparing a filing establishing that they are exempt from having to make this payment, as discussed below.
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.
Like last year, the de minimis threshold for annual regulatory fee payments will remain $1,000.00. Thus, if an entity’s total regulatory fee due is less than $1,000.00, it will be exempt from payment of the fee. This is a significant win for many of our clients. See additional information below.
It is important to note that a failure to make the payment by Tuesday, September 24, 2019 will result in the imposition of a 25 percent late payment fee.
The FCC has indicated that it will rely on its own records, to the extent possible, in order to verify that the proper regulatory fee payments have been made. In those circumstances where its records do not contain the necessary information (e.g., mobile unit counts), it will rely on the representations made by the regulatees, subject to random audits. Therefore, in accordance with Rule Section 1.1157(d), our CMRS clients are required to keep supporting records for a minimum of two years from the date the regulatory user fees are paid. In those circumstances where an insufficient fee has been calculated, the entity will be responsible for payment of the additional fee together with any penalties and interest.
Mandatory Use of the Fee Filer System – All regulatees that pay annually must make their regulatory fee payments electronically via the Commission’s online Fee Filer payment system or by wire funds transfer directly to the US Treasury. The FCC no longer accepts paper checks, cashier’s checks or money orders.
Payments for Cellular, PCS, AWS, 700 MHz, Paging, SMR and most other CMRS/commercial licensees, as well as telecommunications and cable television services, must be made annually by the September deadline described above. As a result, regulatees will be required to access the FCC’s Fee Filer system (www.fcc.gov/fees/feefiler.html) with their valid CORES FRN and password in order to initiate the process of filing their annual regulatory fees. For FY 2019, payment may be made electronically through the Fee Filer system as a credit card transaction, wire transfer or as an ACH Payment that utilizes your bank account information. In this regard, it is critical that you verify with your bank whether an ACH payment can be drawn on your account, and if so, the correct routing number and account information for this payment method, since certain banks utilize different information from what is printed on the account holders’ checks. Additionally, your bank may require the FCC’s Company ID #2700000103. Wire funds transfers to the US Treasury will be addressed below. As in prior years, the FCC no longer accepts payment by check, money order or cashier’s check or mails invoices for regulatory fees. These invoices are instead viewable in the FCC’s Fee Filer System.
Please note that the FCC accepts VISA, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. In addition to the credit card number and expiration date, you will also need to know the security code for the credit card. Failure to provide accurate credit card information will result in rejection of the credit card payment and a 25% late fee if the payment is refiled after the payment due date. If you choose to make a payment via credit card, please note that the US Treasury has set the maximum charge that can be made on a single credit card at $24,999.99 per day. Additionally, the US Treasury does not permit the total amount due to be split into multiple payments in order to circumvent this restriction. In particular, an amount that exceeds the maximum dollar amount of $24,999.99 may not be split into two or more payment transactions in the same day or over multiple days, by using one or more cards. Thus, if your fee is greater than $24,999.99, it will be necessary to pay by another method such as ACH or wire funds transfer (EFT/FEDWire).
Should you desire to make your payment by wire funds transfer to the US Treasury, the following instructions will apply:
We recommend scheduling your payment for no later than Tuesday, September 17, 2019 in case there is an issue with the wire funds transfer. Additionally, it will be necessary to fax a copy of the Fee Filer generated Form 159-E to the Federal Communications Commission at (202) 418-2843 at least one hour before (and on the same business day) the wire funds transfer is initiated so that there are no delays in crediting your account. The Form 159-E should be captioned at the top with “WIRE TRANSFER – REGULATORY FEE PAYMENT.” Finally, you should make arrangements with your banker a few days in advance so that your financial institution has enough time to initiate the wire funds transfer without running up against the payment deadline. The FCC cautions that any wire transfer that is initiated after 6:00 PM Eastern Time will be credited the next business day. We therefore recommend that you check with your financial institution in order to determine the appropriate deadlines for the sending of the wire transfer and receipt by the US Treasury.
The FCC has made Interstate Telecommunications Service Providers (ITSPs) and CMRS regulatory fee assessment data available for review in its Fee Filer system. For ITSPs, the fee assessment data is based upon revenues data reported in the Form 499 for 2018. For CMRS providers, the fee assessment data is based upon subscriber counts derived from the Form 502 numbering report. The FCC will not be mailing out this data to CMRS providers. Because some carriers may not have filed their numbering data on the Form 502, the FCC will not have a telephone number count as of December 31, 2018. In those cases, CMRS providers should calculate their regulatory fee based upon the number of telephone numbers assigned to subscribers as of December 31, 2018.
In order to view this data and verify its accuracy, it will be necessary to log into the Fee Filer System. Once logged into the system, you should click on the link to view the appropriate revenue data (for ITSPs) or subscriber data (for CMRS providers.) The data for ITSPs cannot be revised, since it is based upon the 2018 ITSP revenue data that was reported on FCC Form 499.
Payments by NECA for ITSP Fees
Several of our wireless clients are also local exchange carriers that pay their ITSP regulatory fees through NECA. While the FCC permits regulatees to use other entities for the payment of fees, it is important to remember that the ultimate responsibility rests with the regulated entity. In this regard, it is also important to note that if there are other ITSP regulatory fees for which you are liable that are not covered through NECA (e.g., CLEC, long distance or VoIP interstate revenue), it will be necessary for you to initiate the payment of those fees in the FCC’s Fee Filer system.
Exemptions from Regulatory Fees
Governmental entities and non-profit entities under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code are exempt from the payment of regulatory fees. Any entity claiming exempt status must submit (or have on file with the Commission) a valid IRS Determination Letter documenting its non-profit status or a certification from a governmental authority attesting to its exempt status. Additionally, a regulatee will be exempt from the payment of regulatory fees if the sum total of all of its regulatory fees owed is $1,000.00 or less. As a result, we anticipate that most of our paging clients and some of our other small CMRS clients will be exempt from paying the annual regulatory fee this year. In order to minimize the potential for being placed in a red-light status for non-payment of the regulatory fee, we recommend that any client with an exemption file a letter with the FCC that specifically states that they are exempt from the payment of regulatory fees for FY 2019. We will be glad to prepare and file such letter for you if desire.
Enforcement Actions for Non-Payment or Late Payment
In addition to the 25 percent late fee, the Communications Act has provided the Commission with three methods for enforcing user fee requirements – monetary penalties for late payment, dismissal of pending applications, and license revocations. Additionally, the FCC’s rules also permit the FCC to withhold action on any applications or requests for benefits (including USF payments) filed by anyone who is delinquent on any non-tax debt to the FCC (including regulatory fees), and to dismiss those applications or requests if satisfactory payment arrangements are not made. Finally, the Commission is authorized to pursue other remedies for non-payment of fees under the Debt Collection Act.
Please let us know if you have any questions or need any assistance with your regulatory fee payments.
Any client with questions regarding this memorandum may call Richard Rubino at 202-828-5519.
|Source:||Blooston, Mordkofsky et. al.|
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.
11175 Cicero Dr., Alpharetta, GA 30022
From Tragedy Comes Progress: How 9/11 Impacted Public Safety
Eighteen years ago, tragedy struck the U.S., and during the attack on 9/11, radio systems used by emergency personnel could not operate competently across agencies. In the aftermath, an investigation by the 9/11 Commission revealed gaps in emergency communications across the country, prompting the need for a nationwide network for law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical personnel.
In 2012, Congress authorized the creation of the First Responder Network Authority (now FirstNet) and allocated 20 megahertz of spectrum, known as Band 14, to a dedicated first responder broadband network. The estimated $54 billion needed to build out the network was raised by selling television spectrum in the FCC’s broadcast incentive auction and by entering a 25-year public-private partnership with AT&T. The telecom is now building out and funding FirstNet, which went live in March 2018. The effort in the U.S has also created and inspired new public safety systems worldwide.
The ultimate vision for public safety is a converged network, a dedicated, public safety wireless broadband infrastructure capable of offering mission-critical services; these services will include voice, data, and video. LMR and LTE networks are coming together to make this vision a reality, albeit slowly.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is working in conjunction with the public safety community to define operational requirements and priorities, per PoliceOne.com. The requirements include priority and preemption, quality of service, reliability, resiliency, roaming, plus spectrum efficiency and capacity.
In October 2017, representatives of FirstNet took emergency communication across the pond, opening up a conversation with European operators. They discussed current developments and future perspectives of critical communications. The group also issued a Joint Declaration on Public Safety Mission vowing to work collaboratively to drive standardization, encourage innovation, and support users of public safety-critical communications networks.
The following are signatories to the declaration, carrying out the critical-communications mission in their respective countries:
The group also extended an invitation to international operators, manufacturers and commercial providers from around the world to join them in carrying out the critical-communications mission. The declaration noted that “over time, more and more businesses and services that depend on continuous uninterrupted operation and communication – e.g. for energy and water supply, transportation, smart cities, automotive, or remote health care – will need to be part of our security plans, in order to ensure a secure and functioning environment for our global society.”
|Source:||Inside Towers newsletter|| Courtesy of the editor of Inside Towers.
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Selected portions [sometimes more — sometimes less — sometimes the whole updates] of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update and/or the BloostonLaw Private Users Update — newsletters from the Law Offices of Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP — are reproduced in this section of The Wireless Messaging News with kind permission from the firm. The firm's contact information is included at the end of this section of the newsletter.
DIRS Partially Deactivated in Georgia; Remains Active in Carolinas
On September 9, the FCC announced that it has deactivated its Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) for the following areas of Georgia: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Coffee, Echols, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Glynn, Jeff Davis, Jenkins, Liberty, Long, Mcintosh, Montgomery, Pierce, Richmond, Screven, Tattnall, Telfair, Toombs, Ware, Wayne and Wheeler. Communications providers do not need to provide any additional reporting in DIRS for these areas in Georgia with respect to Hurricane Dorian.
DIRS remains activated in the following areas of North Carolina: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Hertford, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Tyrrell, Washington, Wayne and Wilson; and the following areas of South Carolina: Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Lee, Lexington, Marion, Marlboro, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter and Williamsburg.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, Mary Sisak, and Sal Taillefer.
FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for September Open Meeting
On September 5, the FCC issued a Press Release announcing the tentative agenda for the September Open Meeting, currently scheduled to take place on September 26:
Please note, the links included in the descriptions of these items are to public drafts that are not final and may differ from what the FCC ultimately considers.
Open Meetings are streamed live at www.fcc.gov/live and can be followed on social media with #OpenMtgFCC.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
FCC Targets June 2020 for 3.5 GHz CBRS "Priority Access License" 5G Auction
In a blog post issued on September 4, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced plans for the Commission to vote later this month on issuing draft procedures for the auction of 70 MHz of "Priority Access License" (or "PAL") spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band, with the auction to begin on June 25, 2020. This next batch of 5G spectrum is touted to feature better signal propagation, building penetration and ability to serve mobile applications than the spectrum sold in recent 5G auctions. While not offering the same bandwidth capacity as some of the earlier auctions, 3.5 GHz may serve as either a stand alone 5G opportunity or a tool to supplement higher band 5G offerings. A vote on issuing proposed rules for the 3.5 GHz auction will be voted on at the FCC’s September Open Meeting.
Spectrum Access System (SAS) administrators including Federated Wireless, CommScope and Google are expected to have their final test reports approved by the Commission in the coming weeks and this paves the way for initial commercial deployments using the unlicensed General Authorized Access (or "GAA") portion of the CBRS band to begin later this month. Taken together with the Chairman’s announcement, these developments mean that the long-awaited 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service ("CBRS") will soon be reality for our clients who wish to deploy 4G LTE and/or 5G networks using valuable mid-band spectrum.
Chairman Pai praised Commissioner Mike O’Rielly for his leadership in updating the licensing and technical rules for the 3.5 GHz band with the aim of promoting investment and innovation and American leadership in 5G wireless services. "Thanks to Commissioner O’Rielly’s leadership, we put the rules in place last year that will facilitate the deployment of 5G in the 3.5 GHz band," wrote Pai. "And we are now ready to start the process that will lead to the 3.5 GHz auction commencing next June."
The FCC has come under some criticism from the wireless industry recently for focusing its initial 5G spectrum licensing efforts on the millimeter wave "Spectrum Frontiers" bands, such as the 28 GHz band (Auction 101 - which ended in late January) and 24 GHz band (Auction 102 - which ended in late May), rather than clearing and auctioning mid-band spectrum, which has significantly less capacity but which has more favorable propagation characteristics for covering wide areas. The Commission is proceeding with another Spectrum Frontiers auction (Auction 103 - for PEA licenses in the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz bands) that is scheduled to begin December 10th.
The revised 3.5 GHz PAL licensing framework improves upon the 3650--3700 MHz Band Service by offering an additional 100 megahertz of contiguous spectrum, and allowing greater frequency protection for county-based PAL licensees. Next year's 3.5 GHz PAL auction will provide spectrum opportunities for our law firm's clients who wish to deploy fixed and/or mobile wireless networks. County-based licensing for 70 MHz of PALs means that smaller and rural companies should have a better chance at acquiring spectrum that is tailored for their area(s) of interest. We will be preparing comments on the FCC's proposed auction rules this fall and encourage interested clients to begin their budgeting and planning soon. Please contact the firm if you have any questions or would like us to assist you in planning.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Cary Mitchell and John Prendergast.
FCC Adopts NPRM on Electronic ULS Filings
On September 6, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking — adopted three days prior — proposing to continue the agency’s process of making more filings electronic. Comment deadlines have not yet been established.
Specifically, the FCC proposes to make all filings to the Universal Licensing System (ULS) completely electronic; expand electronic filing and correspondence elements for related systems; and require applicants to provide an e-mail address on the FCC Forms related to these systems. This item also seeks comment on additional rule changes that would further expand the use of electronic filing and electronic service.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino.
FCC to Consider Order Providing $950 Million for Broadband in Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands
On September 4, the FCC issued a Press Release announcing that Chairman Ajit Pai today circulated a draft Order to his fellow commissioners that would provide approximately $950 million in funding to storm-harden, improve, and expand broadband networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. This is the second round of funding under the FCC’s Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund and Connect USVI Fund and follows $130 million in extra funding the Commission has provided to restore hurricane-damaged networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands since 2017. The draft Order will be considered at the FCC’s monthly meeting on September 26. Chairman Pai issued the following statement:
“The FCC took numerous steps to help restore communications in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands following the devastating one-two punches delivered by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. But even as we were responding to immediate needs, we knew that we needed to have a long-term strategy to expand broadband availability in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, improve broadband networks on these islands, and help protect these networks against future storms. That’s why we created the Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund and the Connect USVI Fund.
“This draft Order would deliver on that strategy by allocating about $950 million in federal universal service support for Stage 2 of the Funds. Significant work has been done to restore connectivity. Now, this new funding would support deployment of the networks of tomorrow, including gigabit fiber and 5G, in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It would also help ensure that Americans living there will be able to fully participate in the digital economy and remain connected when they need it most. Our goal is simple: to provide everyone in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with digital opportunity.”
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Gerry Duffy.
Law & Regulation
FCC Fines Texas Company and AT&T for Prohibited Communications During CAF-II Auction
AT&T and a Texas-based company that was the biggest winner in the FCC’s Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF-II) auction (Auction 903), AMG Technology Investment Group, LLC (AMG), were last week issued proposed forfeitures of $75,000 and $100,000, respectively, by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, for engaging in discussions involving AMG’s bids and bidding strategy during the CAF-II auction and for failing to timely report the prohibited communications.
During the CAF-II auction, AMG, which does business by the name Nextlink Internet, initiated prohibited communications with AT&T in an effort to secure discounts for services obtained from that company. However, a wholly-owned subsidiary of AT&T, New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC (Cingular) was also an Applicant in the CAF-II auction, though it chose not to bid. AMG and Cingular had each certified in their short-form applications that they did not have joint bidding agreements with any Auction 903 applicants. AMG ultimately won approximately $281 million of the $1.5 billion in support that the FCC distributed in the CAF-II auction.
Several weeks after the close of the auction, counsel for AT&T notified the Commission’s staff of potential prohibited communications with AMG. The day after learning of AT&T’s disclosure to FCC staff, AMG also notified Commission staff of “potential prohibited communications” with AT&T in connection with Auction 903. Following an investigation by the FCC Enforcement Bureau, the Commission found that AMG had communicated prohibited information about its bids, bidding strategies, and bidding outcomes to AT&T on at least seven separate occasions during the Auction 903 Quiet Period.
In addition to the express prohibition against communicating about an entity’s bids in the Commission’s Rules, an FCC Public Notice cautioned Auction 903 applicants “to avoid direct or indirect communications with another applicant that (i) relate to any Phase II auction eligible area(s) and (ii) … including potential arrangements regarding the post-auction market structure in eligible areas.” Here, the FCC concluded that not only did AMG relay numerous messages about its bidding, and signal its aggressive bidding strategy to AT&T, but in connection with its bidding revelations, it also communicated with AT&T about future business opportunities in Auction 903 eligible areas.
In particular, the FCC found that for nearly three months, through the pre-bidding, bidding, and the post-bidding phases of the Quiet Period, AMG’s top executive and the person designated as “responsible party” for the Company’s Auction 903 activities engaged in persistent prohibited communications with AT&T. During the Quiet Period, AMG alerted AT&T that it would be a substantial bidder across multiple states, informed AT&T of its bidding results before the Commission had publicly announced the winning bidders, and engaged in meetings to discuss its auction winnings, even alerting AT&T that AMG would provide AT&T with the coverage areas for which AMG was the winning bidder of Auction 903. In its prohibited communications with AT&T, AMG even stated that it was communicating with other Auction 903 applicants.
The Commission found that the facts and circumstances AMG’s case did not merit a reduction from the $100,000 forfeiture amount it has previously imposed for engaging in prohibited communications. AT&T received a downward adjustment of $25,000 because the prohibited communications were initiated by AMG, and there was no evidence that AT&T relayed any information to AMG about Cingular’s participation (or non-participation) in the auction. AT&T was the party that ultimately stopped the prohibited communications by advising AMG it could no longer engage in discussions with AMG, and it self-disclosed its prohibited communications with AMG, albeit outside of the five-day grace period provided by the Rules.
Clients that are auction applicants should be extremely careful when engaging in business discussions during the course of an auction, from the short-form filing date until the post-auction down payment deadline has passed. The rules apply to all short-form applicants regardless of whether they drop out of an auction or choose not to bid in the first place. If you have any questions about whether or how the prohibited communications rules apply, and especially if you have been contacted by an outside company or individual with information that may be a prohibited communication, it is important that you contact us immediately for guidance and, if necessary, timely reporting of any prohibited communications received to the FCC.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Cary Mitchell and John Prendergast.
House Holds Hearing on Broadband Mapping
On September 11, the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a legislative hearing entitled, "Legislating to Connect America: Improving the Nation's Broadband Maps." In addition to the FCC’s recent actions on broadband mapping, the hearing addressed five different broadband mapping bills:
Witnesses at the hearing were:
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Sal Taillefer.
FCC Announces Changes to Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force, Broadband Data Staff
On September 6, the FCC issued a Press Release announcing staff changes in the leadership of the FCC’s efforts to expand rural broadband deployment and develop data to inform that mission. Michael Janson will serve as the Director of the Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force and Acting Assistant Chief of the Office of Economics and Analytics (OEA). Chelsea Fallon, who previously headed the Task Force, will lead the implementation of the new Digital Opportunity Data Collection within the Data Division of OEA. Steve Rosenberg will serve as the Commission’s acting Chief Data and Analytics Officer and acting Chief of OEA’s Data Division, where implementation of the OPEN Data Government Act will be housed.
“Connecting rural Americans is vital to our economic progress as a nation. To reach our goals, we need effective tools to support the deployment of high-speed broadband connectivity and collect precise and reliable data on which to base these efforts,” said Chairman Pai. “I’m pleased that Michael is stepping into this new role overseeing our auctions of universal service funding to bring broadband to rural America. In particular, he will be playing a critical role as we finalize and implement the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. I’d also like to thank Chelsea for leading the task force over the past two years, during which she oversaw the successful Connect America Fund Phase II reverse auction. She will be a valuable asset to OEA and the Digital Opportunity Data Collection.”
“Steve will bring deep experience in data analytics to a variety of Commission efforts, including his ongoing work with our universal service programs and the Digital Opportunity Data Collection as well as providing leadership related to data governance to make data more accessible for policymaking and the American public,” added Chairman Pai.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Sal Taillefer
USDA Hosts Regional ReConnect Program Workshop in Indiana
USDA has announced that on September 19, it will host a regional single-day workshop in Fort Wayne, Indiana at the Ivy Tech Community College - Coliseum Campus. The event is intended for those interested in the USDA Rural Development Broadband ReConnect Program, and is designed to provide attendees with an understanding of the overall program requirements and application process, in anticipation of the next Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) expected to be released in late 2019.
The program covers overall application requirements, as well as details about the engineering, financial, environmental, and mapping requirements. Specifically, the workshop will cover:
Seats for this regional workshop are limited.
The ReConnect Program offers loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in areas of rural America without sufficient access to broadband. The application window for the first round of funding is now closed, and USDA is reviewing the applications received.
SEPTEMBER 30: 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. 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: Gerry Duffy 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: Gerry Duffy and Sal Taillefer.
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