|Wireless News Aggregation|
Welcome Back To
This Week's Wireless Headlines:
NO POLITICS HERE
This doesn't mean that nothing is ever published here that mentions a US political party—it just means that the editorial policy of this newsletter is to remain neutral on all political issues. We don't take sides.
A new issue of the Wireless Messaging Newsletter is posted on the web each week. A notification goes out by e-mail to subscribers on most Fridays around noon central US time. The notification message has a link to the actual newsletter on the web. That way it doesn’t fill up your incoming e-mail account.
There is no charge for subscription and there are no membership restrictions. Readers are a very select group of wireless industry professionals, and include the senior managers of many of the world’s major Paging and Wireless Messaging companies. There is an even mix of operations managers, marketing people, and engineers — so I try to include items of interest to all three groups. It’s all about staying up-to-date with business trends and technology.
I regularly get readers’ comments, so this newsletter has become a community forum for the Paging, and Wireless Messaging communities. You are welcome to contribute your ideas and opinions. Unless otherwise requested, all correspondence addressed to me is subject to publication in the newsletter and on my web site. I am very careful to protect the anonymity of those who request it.
I spend the whole week searching the INTERNET for news that I think may be of interest to you — so you won’t have to. This newsletter is an aggregator — a service that aggregates news from other news sources. You can help our community by sharing any interesting news that you find.
Editorial Opinion pieces present only the opinions of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of any of advertisers or supporters. This newsletter is independent of any trade association. I don't intend to hurt anyone's feelings, but I do freely express my own opinions.
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There is not a lot of news about Paging these days but when anything significant comes out, you will probably see it here. I also cover text messaging to other devices and various articles about related technology.
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Service Monitors and Frequency Standards for Sale
(Images are typical units, not actual photos of items offered for sale here.)
Motorola Acquires Futurecom Systems
Tuesday, October 25, 2022
Motorola Solutions acquired Futurecom Systems, a provider of radio coverage extension solutions for public-safety agencies, based in Ontario, Canada. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Futurecom designs and manufactures in-vehicle, fixed and portable RF repeaters and extenders exclusively for Motorola Solutions. These complementary products are critically important to public-safety agencies, serving as vital communication hot spots to extend and enhance LMR coverage across vast and remote areas without nearby radio towers.
“Radio communications are trusted as a lifeline by first responders, and more than 800 agencies across the world depend on Futurecom products to remain reliably connected in the line of duty,” said Scott Mottonen, senior vice president, products, Motorola Solutions. “Futurecom is an important part of both our history and our future, and together, we will continue to innovate mission-critical communications for the public-safety agencies who trust our solutions to keep their first responders and communities safe.”
For more than 30 years, Motorola Solutions and Futurecom have collaborated on RF repeaters and extenders that are tightly integrated with Motorola Solutions’ radio networks and devices. These solutions help to ensure that first responders, even in remote locations, maintain critical communications and advanced features, such as encryption and data services, to do their jobs more safely and securely.
“We couldn’t be more excited to join Motorola Solutions, a company with which we have collaborated and worked alongside for many years,” said Futurecom CEO and President Paul Halinaty. “We share a deep passion for designing and delivering solutions that help to ensure first responders have radio coverage when and where they need it.”
|Source:||Radio Resource International|
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
The Wireless Messaging News
The Board of Advisor members are people with whom I have developed a special rapport, and have met personally. They are not obligated to support the newsletter in any way, except with advice, and maybe an occasional letter to the editor.
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|PRISM IPX Systems|
Thousands of Users Worldwide Depend on Prism IPX
Our Customers Trust Us To Make Sure That Their Messages Get Delivered
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.
Experts in Paging Infrastructure
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
|Readers of the Newsletter who are Ham Radio Operators|
|Source:||Amateur Radio callsigns of readers. Please click here to add yours.|
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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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
R.H. (Ron) Mercer
FCC proposes rules to prevent fake emergency alerts
The agency wants stricter security policies that would minimize hacks.
The Federal Communications Commission is well aware of the potential damage from fake emergency alerts, and it's hoping to minimize the threat with policy changes. The agency has proposed rules that would require stricter security for the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts. Participants and telecoms would have to not only report EAS breaches within 72 hours, but provide yearly certifications that they both have "sufficient" safeguards and a risk management plan.
The proposed rules would also require phone carriers to send authentication data ensuring that only legitimate emergency alerts reach customer devices. The FCC is similarly looking for comments on the effectiveness of the current requirements for transmitting EAS notices, and suggestions for "alternative approaches" with improvements.
The proposal comes three years after University of Colorado researchers warned that it was easy to spoof FEMA's presidential alerts, with no way to verify the authenticity of the broadcasts. And while the 2018 Hawaii missile alert was the result of an error rather than a hack, it underscored the risks associated with false warnings. Even at small scales, a fake alert could reach tens of thousands of people, possibly leading to panic and reduced trust in real messages.
It's not certain if the proposals are enough. The 72-hour window may help prevent some false alerts, but not all of them — that's plenty of time for a hacker to both breach an emergency system and send fake messages. It's likewise unclear if the FCC would update its security requirements to keep up with evolving threats. Even so, this shows that the Commission is at least aware of the dangers.
Brad Dye, Ron Mercer, Allan Angus, and Ira Wiesenfeld are friends and colleagues who work both together and independently, on wireline and wireless communications projects.
Click here for a summary of 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
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
If China declares war, these ham radio enthusiasts could be crucial
BY STEPHANIE YANG — STAFF WRITER OCT. 27, 2022 3 AM PT
TAIPEI, Taiwan — On Tuesday nights, BX2AN sits near the Xindian River, motionless but for his thumb and middle finger, rhythmically tapping against two small metal paddles. They emit a sound each time his hand makes contact — from the right, a dit, or dot; from the left, a dah, or dash, the building blocks of the Morse code alphabet.
“Is anyone there?” he taps.
The replies come back in fits and starts: from Japan, then Greece, then Bulgaria. Each time, BX2AN, as he is known on the radio waves, jots down a series of numbers and letters: call signs, names, dates, locations. Then he adjusts a black round knob on his transceiver box, its screens glowing yellow in the dark.
There can be no doubt that this is his setup. That unique call sign is stamped across the front of his black radio set, scrawled in faded Sharpie on his travel mug and engraved in a plaque on his car dashboard. On the edge of his notepad, he’s absent-mindedly doodled it again, BX2AN.
In the corporeal world he is Lee Jiann-shing, a 71-year-old retired bakery owner, husband, father of five, grandfather of eight and a ham radio enthusiast for 30 years. Every week, he is the first to arrive at this regular meeting for Taipei’s amateur radio hobbyists.
They gather on a small, grassy campground on the city’s southern border, where Lee hunches over his radio from the back of his van, listening to the airwaves as the sun goes down. He doesn’t talk much; he prefers the dits and dahs to communicate. By 8:30 p.m. he has corresponded with six other operators in various countries.
U-R-N-A-M-E, Lee asks a contact in Bulgaria. G-E-K, the operator replies, adding a location, S-O-F-I-A. Lee taps out L-E-E, and his city in response.
As more members of the Chinese Taipei Amateur Radio League, or CTARL, trickle in, two other operators are setting up stations several yards away. One of them, like Lee, starts tapping. The other prefers a handheld voice transmitter, tuning into some indistinct chatter across the Taiwan Strait.
In the age of smartphones and DMs, amateur radio has become a niche hobby in Taiwan. Participants like Lee, many of whom are older than 50, tinker with electronics, exchange postcards with new contacts and compete to see who connects with the most far-flung places.
But ham radio might turn out to be more than just a pleasant pastime.
The self-governing island, about 100 miles east of China, is weighing wartime scenarios in the face of growing military aggression from its vastly more powerful neighbor. If cell towers are down and Internet cables have been cut, the ability of shortwave radio frequencies to transmit long-distance messages could become crucial for civilians and officials alike.
The recreational use of wireless radios, which transmit and receive messages via electromagnetic signals, became popular in the early 20th century, starting in the U.S. Since the federal government began issuing licenses in 1912, the number of noncommercial radio operators in the country has surpassed 846,000, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
Amateur radio operators (also known as “hams”) tend to use the high radio frequencies, a measure of the oscillation rate of electromagnetic waves. The higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength, and the farther signals can travel. (Never heard of it? Ham radio still occasionally pops up in movies and TV — “A Quiet Place,” “The Walking Dead” — as a communication channel of last resort.)
The technology proved useful during World Wars I and II, when countries such as the U.S. and Britain limited civilian airwave activity but enlisted skilled hobbyists to help send and intercept covert messages. More recently, during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the BBC used shortwave radio to broadcast its news service after communication towers were attacked. Ham radio operators were also able to listen in and interrupt communications among Russian soldiers.
Taiwan was not an early adopter. Under the Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party — whose leaders fled to the island in 1949 after losing to Mao Zedong’s Communist Party in China’s civil war — civilian use of amateur radio was all but banned by a government that remained wary of mainland spies. The first licensing exams weren’t offered until 1984. But today, with the threat of cross-strait conflict making headlines, Taiwan has about 25,000 licensed amateur radio operators, according to the National Communications Commission.
For years, China has asserted that Taiwan is part of its territory, a position the U.S. has acknowledged but stopped short of endorsing. As Chinese President Xi Jinping has pushed his vision for unification — if not peacefully, then by force — President Biden has hardened his rhetoric on defending the island’s democracy, raising fears of an inevitable clash.
After U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited here in early August, the People’s Liberation Army in China launched missiles, planes and warships around Taiwan for several days. The growing military pressure has also highlighted the vulnerability of the island’s internet, which is heavily reliant on several major undersea data cables.
As Taiwan confronts the possibility of war, many civilians are making preparations of their own.
Shoichi Chou, 45, remembers using a wireless radio as a teenager to date and talk with his friends. But two years ago, watching Xi call more forcefully for unification, he decided to reacquaint himself with the technology in case war broke out and communication lines went down. Now a licensed operator, Chou, who lives in the city of Taoyuan, keeps a radio in his emergency bag, along with spare batteries, water and a hard hat.
“I feel like it’s incredibly important,” said Chou, the owner of a laptop customization studio. “If just a few bases don’t have electricity, you won’t have any way to use your phone.”
Kenny Huang, chief executive officer of the Taiwan Network Information Center, a nonprofit that serves local Internet users, said several government ministries have begun working on contingency plans for any conflict-induced outages. “This year,” he said, “the government realized because the tension between Taiwan and China is getting worse, they have to prepare for the worst-case scenario.”
The use of ham radio is not yet officially part of that equation. But for T.H. Schee, a Taiwanese tech entrepreneur who hosts lectures on civil defense, the devices seem like a natural solution to his topmost concern: securing communication capabilities in the face of an attack.
“Ham radio has been proven to be [a] reliable communication channel in several world wars, and the Ukraine-Russia conflict as well,” Schee said. In Taiwan, amateur operators have helped train military personnel and assisted in emergency communications for events including deadly natural disasters and the annual New Year’s Eve festivities in downtown Taipei.
“Some people will think that with today’s technological advancements, this thing is being phased out,” said David Kao, secretary general of CTARL. “But ... new things are not always reliable.”
Kao was 9 when he first encountered a basic broadcast radio in 1981. Intrigued, he scoured the library for literature on the novel devices and went from stall to stall at a local market seeking more information. At that time, obtaining an amateur license was illegal under martial law imposed by the Nationalists, also known as KMT. But restrictions started easing a few years before martial law was lifted in 1987. Four years later, CTARL was founded, and Kao finally got his license.
Some hobbyists found their own ways around the rules. In 1981, when Wayne Lai was 16, he was so eager to play with radios that he built his own contraband out of electronic refuse.
His self-selected call sign back then was U0, or youling in Chinese, a homonym for the word “ghost.” His friends similarly styled themselves Apple, Snoopy, Frog, Mazda, Bandit, Chicken Leg, Spare Rib. A few years before Taiwan began to loosen restrictions, Lai and his friends were raided by the authorities. Their radios were confiscated, and they had to sign pledges to not use them again.
Today, amateur radio is very accessible, but Lai, one of the Tuesday night regulars at the campgrounds, worries that it doesn’t hold the same allure for people who grew up in the Internet era.
“Look. Old guy,” Lai says, pointing at one of the operators who set up on a concrete bench. “Old guy. Old guy. Old guy. Old guy,” he continued, gesturing around a table. “There aren’t many young people coming to play anymore.”
Luo Yi-cheng is quick to challenge that pronouncement. The 27-year-old accounting specialist, who learned about ham radio from a YouTube video last year, compared it to discovering Facebook — a different way to connect with people around the world.
The hardest part, he said, was picking up the receiver and uttering his first words — it was something akin to speaking in front of the entire class in grade school. But the sense of accomplishment from a successful connection was greater than anything Luo had experienced using his smartphone. “I was completely unaware that this existed,” he said. “I think younger people aren’t simply disinterested; they probably just don’t know about this.”
For the most part, ham radio is a solitary activity. Nonetheless, there’s a festive atmosphere by the river. Lights strung up in a nearby tree illuminate screens and dials in the dark. Someone digs out a stack of ring toss hoops, while others fuss over small cups of tea.
Amid the sound of crickets and radio static, it’s common to hear hams chat about the weather, their latest devices and how to best hide their gadget addictions from their wives. Some of them band together to purchase new electronics via a group chat called “Buy, Buy, Buy.”
“With so many electronics, there’s no way you can use them all,” one member reasons.
“But when I see it, I still want to buy it,” another insists, to the commiserating laughter of the group.
Meanwhile, at the back of Lee’s van, another message arrives in halting beeps. He writes down the corresponding characters — E71A — before tapping out a response.
He waits but gets nothing.
In the radio silence, a colleague uses his phone to look up the call sign. “What is this flag?” he asks Lee, who is also at a loss. Upon closer inspection, the icon, a blue-and-yellow rectangle, is labeled “Bosnia and Herzegovina” in tiny letters.
Others gather behind them, looking over Lee’s shoulder. “Where is that?” they ask eagerly. “Did you respond?” “Did you make contact?”
“Didn’t go through,” Lee answers, his voice telegraphing dejection. “Hearing them, but not being able to reach them, is really depressing,” he said, tapping his fingers over his heart.
But all is not lost; there’s always the possibility of another exciting connection in the days ahead. Plus, it’s a peaceful night, and the threat of war — for now — seems as distant as the operators the hams are hoping to reach.
The night’s attendees pack up their equipment and return supplies to their cars. A few of them help pull the lights down from the tree, stowing them in Lee’s van for the next Tuesday gathering. And the regulars know Lee will probably be back at the river by the weekend, unable to stay away for long.
David Shen of The Times’ Taipei bureau contributed to this report.
|Source:||Los Angeles Times|
|Inside Towers Newsletter|
FCC to Study 12.7 GHz Band for 5G and 6G Use
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief
The FCC Commissioners voted Thursday to explore repurposing up to 550 MHz in the 12.7 to 13.25 GHz band (12.7 GHz band) for next-generation wireless services. The agency expects the inquiry is the first step in providing for more intensive use of the 12.7 GHz band. This would unlock what the Commissioners say is a “significant expanse” of upper mid-band frequencies that may play a key role in delivering on next-generation wireless services, including 5G, 6G, and beyond.
During the vote, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said finding more spectrum for wireless or other use is going to require new thinking, because the future will be different than the past. “The focus on phones will give way to connectivity that touches everything in the economy. In fact, if we do this right, our phones will be the least interesting part of our wireless future. Because we are on the cusp of new forms of connectivity that will boost productivity and make industrial processes safer in factories, shipyards, and warehouses,” said Rosenworcel.
Rosenworcel explained: “We will see fresh competition in the delivery of household broadband, increasing the number of ways families get online. Plus, using next generation wireless technology in the power, transportation, and manufacturing sectors could lead to emissions savings that could help put us on the course to reach future climate targets.”
This new proceeding is the latest in a series of FCC initiatives to ensure that mid-band spectrum is available for current and future consumer and business wireless needs. According to the industry and the Commission, mid-band spectrum offers an ideal blend of capacity and coverage and can support faster speeds and wider coverage. The 12.7 GHz band is believed to be ideally suited for mobile broadband use as it is already allocated for terrestrial mobile services on a primary basis domestically.
In a Notice of Inquiry, the FCC seeks information on how the Commission could encourage more efficient and intensive use of the 12.7 GHz band. Given existing incumbent operations, the agency also seeks comment on whether and how to provide opportunities for new uses while protecting the investments made by incumbents and avoiding disruption to their operations.
That’s why the FCC asks for public input concerning methodologies to promote coexistence or sharing between potential new entrants and existing users and whether some or all of the current incumbents should be relocated. It also asks how much interference protection new 12.7 GHz band operations would need to provide incumbent services in adjacent bands.
|Source:||Inside Towers newsletter|| Courtesy of the editor of Inside Towers, Jim Fryer.
Inside Towers is a daily newsletter by subscription.
BloostonLaw Presents on Telco and ISP Privacy at SCC Annual Meeting
On October 28, BloostonLaw partner Sal Taillefer will present at the Small Company Coalition’s Annual Meeting for 2022. At the meeting, Sal will discuss the past, present, and future of privacy regulation for telcos and ISPs. Topics covered will include the FCC’s attempt to regulate privacy in 2016; an overview of the privacy landscape as it applies to telcos and ISPs today; and a discussion of recently proposed Federal and State privacy legislation affecting telcos and ISPs. The presentation will also cover a recent report by the FTC outlining the data practices of the largest ISPs in the nation.
BloostonLaw Contact: Sal Taillefer
Rep. McMorris Rodgers Warns Chairwoman Rosenworcel Off Exceeding Agency Authority
Last month, Rep. Kathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) – current Republican leader on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and potential Chair – wrote a letter to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel alleging the agency has recently “taken it upon itself to misinterpret its authority to initiate rulemakings with ’economic and political significance’ that fit the Chair’s political leanings,” and that the Committee would “exercise our robust investigative and legislative powers to not only forcefully reassert our Article I responsibilities, but to ensure the FCC under Democrat leadership does not continue to exceed Congressional authorizations.”
In a footnote to her statement about “economic and political significance,” Rep. McMorris Rodgers cited to the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order, also known as the “Net Neutrality” order, which re-classified broadband Internet access service as a Title II common carrier service, among other things. Our readers will recall, the next administration’s FCC reversed the Open Internet Order with the Restoring Internet Freedom Order of 2017.
At the conclusion of her letter, Rep. McMorris Rodgers asked Chairwoman Rosenworcel to provide (a) a list of all pending rulemakings and the specific Congressional authority for each rulemaking; (b) a list of all expected rulemakings and the specific Congressional authority for each rulemaking; and (c) a list of all pending or expected Declaratory Rulings issued by the FCC on delegated authority. Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s response, dated October 7, welcomed the opportunity to respond to Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ letter, and provided the requested information, listing approximately 28 pages of pending rulemakings, the oldest of which date back to 1993.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
Industry Groups Urge Senate to Confirm Sohn for Commission Seat
On October 14, a collection of nearly 250 groups representing a wide range of businesses, consumer advocates, civil rights organizations, education sector, state and local elected officials, and community groups wrote to Senate Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, Chair Cantwell and Ranking Member Wicker urging them to bring to the floor the confirmation vote of Gigi Sohn for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) before Congress adjourns.
The letter went on to detail Ms. Sohn’s accomplishments and broadly supported her confirmation. Praise included her 30 years of experience in telecommunications, broadband and technology policy; her strong commitment to the First Amendment; and her proven track record as a leader in promoting innovation, US jobs and a strong economy. The letter further noted her regular work with organizations representing diverse media interests, and across the aisle.
Sohn was nominated in October 2021, but a vote on her nomination has been slowed by Republican opposition, and the 50-50 tie that has slowed action by the Senate on many matters. A copy of the approximately 1 page letter and its 4 pages of signatures can be found here.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Sal Taillefer.
FCC Denies Requests for Confidentiality of BDC Data with Exception of Mobile Link Budget Data
Last week, the FCC responded to several carriers’ requests for confidential treatment of data collected in the Broadband Data Collection (BDC). Of the 44 requests that the FCC has considered so far, 5 were granted in part and denied in part, and 39 were denied. The only exception the FCC has made regarding denying these requests has been in regard to the carriers’ mobile link budget parameters rationale files, which it will treat as confidential.
Carriers seeking confidential treatment for BDC data filings may contact the firm for more information.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Sal Taillefer.
Law and Regulation
FCC Proposes Penalties for Operational Violations, and an Unauthorized Transfer of Control
Last week, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability and entered into a Consent Decree regarding violations of the Wireless Radio Services rules. Specifically, the FCC concluded that the Augustus Foundation, Inc. was apparently liable for a monetary forfeiture in the amount of $11,000, for failing to obtain authorization for failing to obtain extended authority for its broadcast station to remain silent, and for operating at variance with its authorized parameters. The FCC also settled its investigation into whether Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. entered into an unauthorized transfer of control and/or assignment of its wireless radio licenses during an acquisition for $50,000.
BloostonLaw attorneys are available to assist clients meet the FCC’s requirements and avoid such hefty fines, as well as help respond to Notices of Apparent Liability and negotiate Consent Decrees.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino.
FCC Settles Investigation Into Foreign Ownership Disclosure Violations for $600,000
On October 20, the FCC announced a settlement with Truphone to resolve the Notice of Apparent Liability issued against it earlier this year for failing to disclose accurate ownership stakes held by foreign entities, and transferring control of FCC licenses and international section 214 authorization without Commission approval to do so. According to an FCC Press Release, these inaccuracies caused control of the company’s FCC licenses to be transferred repeatedly to unvetted foreign individuals and entities without accurate disclosure to and review by the Commission and Executive Branch agencies for national security, law enforcement, foreign policy, or trade policy concerns as required by law. In addition to admitting the violations, the company will pay a civil penalty of $600,000 and enter into a “robust” compliance plan.
Specifically, Truphone failed to accurately report its ownership structure and obtain prior approval before vesting control of the company in certain of its owners. It also failed to obtain Commission approval before an unvetted foreign individual/entity acquired more than five percent of Truphone. Among these transfers, Truphone has stated that, as of March 15, 2022, a 22.8 percent interest in the Company is indirectly held by a trust established for the benefit solely of the family members of Roman Abramovich, who is a citizen of Israel, Portugal and Russia.
“Pursuing unauthorized transactions that impact foreign ownership, control, or investment in entities that possess FCC authorizations or licenses is one of our top priorities,” said Loyaan A. Egal, Acting Chief of the Enforcement Bureau. “The terms reached in this settlement agreement reflect the Enforcement Bureau’s continued efforts to work closely with our colleagues in the FCC’s International Bureau and our partners in the Team Telecom Committee and throughout the interagency to ensure that access to the telecommunications services market in the United States remains consistent with U.S. national security and law enforcement interests.”
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Sal Taillefer.
FCC Announces Pilot Program to Help Tribal Libraries Join E-Rate
On October 20, the FCC announced the formal launch of a new pilot program designed to make it easier for Tribal libraries to apply for broadband funding through the E-Rate program. The E-Rate program provides support to ensure that schools and libraries can obtain affordable, high-speed broadband services and internal connections.
The FCC’s pilot will initially target 20 Tribal libraries that are new to the program or have had challenges applying in the past. The program will provide one-on-one assistance in all aspects of planning and applying for E-Rate support, and help participants once they successfully apply to ensure they are supported during the invoicing and other post-commitment processes. Based on lessons learned, the program could be expanded to include more Tribal libraries and targeted, in-person training opportunities. Applications to participate in the pilot program will be due on November 18.
Carriers that serve Tribal lands may wish to review the program as well.
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: Ben Dickens and John Prendergast.
Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP is a telecommunications law firm representing rural telecommunications companies, wireless carriers, private radio licensees, cable TV companies, equipment manufacturers and industry associations before the FCC and the courts, as well as state and local government agencies. Our clients range from Fortune 500 companies to small and medium-sized enterprises whose vitality and efficiency depend on the effective deployment of communications.
BloostonLaw Partners Discuss Privacy Laws and Regulations at CVTMA Fall Meeting
On October 21, BloostonLaw partners Ben Dickens and Sal Taillefer presented at the Carolina-Virginias Telephone Membership Association’s Fall Conference. The discussion, entitled “Telco & ISP Privacy: Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Today,” covered the FCC’s attempt to regulate privacy in 2016, and then discussed the various attempts by some states to enact privacy laws of their own when the FCC’s regulations failed. Ben and Sal provided an overview of the privacy landscape as it applies to telcos and ISPs today, and wrapped up with a discussion of recently proposed Federal and State privacy legislation affecting telcos and ISPs.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Sal Taillefer
Unauthorized Transfer and Assignment of 59 Licenses Nets $50,000 Consent Decree
The FCC has entered into a $50,000 consent decree with Cleveland-Cliffs, Inc. (“Cleveland-Cliffs”) for violations of Section 310(d) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the “Act”) and the FCC’s rules regarding transfers and assignments of FCC radio licenses.
In 2020, Cleveland-Cliffs acquired two steel companies (AK Steel and ArcelorMittal USA), both of which controlled various FCC radio licenses, without first obtaining FCC authority to do so. Several months following the closing, the Cleveland-Cliffs filed an application requesting FCC consent to the completed AK Steel transaction along with a waiver of the FCC’s rules.
In 2021, having realized that two call signs were overlooked, two additional applications were filed, which likewise requested a waiver of the FCC’s rules. The FCC’s investigation into the matter revealed that Cleveland-Cliffs and its subsidiaries had completed six substantial transfers of control affecting a total of 59 licenses that were held directly or indirectly by AK Steel and ArcelorMittal USA under six different licensee names without first obtaining prior FCC authorization.
It is critically important that our clients notify us of any proposed transaction involving (a) an internal corporate reorganization, (b) the purchase or sale of any radio assets/facilities or campuses/buildings where radios are in use; (c) the purchase or sale of any ownership interests or (d) any internal stock distributions, corporate reorganizations or similar transactions, so that we can evaluate the proposed transaction in order to determine any FCC regulatory impacts. As illustrated in this case, a failure to obtain prior FCC authorization for a transaction could lead to significant penalties.
BloostonLaw Contact: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
FCC Issues Maritime Mobile Service Identities for VHF Handheld Radios
The FCC has expanded the types of marine radios eligible to obtain Maritime Mobile Service Identities (“MMSIs”), to include marine VHF handheld radio transceivers. The FCC already assigns MMSIs through its licensing process for ship and coast station radios, and has now expanded the process as a result of recently changed International Telecommunication Union (“ITU”) assignment policies.
An MMSI is a unique nine-digit number assigned to maritime ship and coast stations that use Digital Selective Calling (“DSC”) or Automatic Identification System (“AIS”) equipment. For vessels, the MMSI functions as the “phone number” that allows DSC direct dialing. Vessels participating in the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System are also required to program their MMSI into their AIS transponder. Search and rescue authorities, including the United States Coast Guard, may use the MMSI to find out background information about a vessel in distress, and to help determine whether an alert is false.
MMSIs have traditionally been assigned to vessels and coast stations, with the MMSI programmed into radio equipment that is intended to be permanently installed on a ship or coast station. The Commission assigns MMSIs to coast stations and individually licensed vessels as part of the licensing process. Operators of vessels that are licensed by rule — i.e., vessels that are not required to obtain an individual ship station license — can obtain MMSIs from private registration agents designated by the Commission and the Coast Guard.
The ITU has expanded the authorized assignment of MMSIs to include VHF handheld radios used exclusively for maritime communications. Under the ITU’s new guidance, MMSIs may be assigned to maritime VHF handheld radios that have DSC capability and an integrated Global Navigation Satellite System (“GNSS”) receiver.
The FCC has now implemented a process to permit the issuance of VHF Handheld MMSIs to Commission licensees. Office clients interested in obtaining an MMSI for their MMSI for a maritime VHF handheld radios should contact our office so that we can assist in the licensing process.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
FCC Proposes $8,000 Fine for Unauthorized Transfer of Domestic Section 214 Authorization
The FCC has proposed to fine VoxNet, LLC $8,000 for failing to obtain Commission approval before transferring its domestic section 214 authorization to Block Line Systems, LLC (“Block Line”).
Section 214(a) of the Act requires telecommunications carriers to obtain a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Commission before constructing, extending, acquiring, or operating any line, or engaging in transmission over that line. Carriers also must obtain a certificate from the Commission before discontinuing, reducing, or impairing service to a community. In 1999, the Commission granted all domestic carriers blanket authority under Section 214 to provide domestic interstate services and construct, acquire, and operate any domestic transmission line. By granting a “blanket authority” under Section 214, the Commission eliminated the need for carriers to seek authorization.
The Commission’s grant of an automatic, blanket authorization means that carriers must be mindful that any transaction which has an impact on its ownership structure could trigger a requirement to obtain FCC authority to transfer that authorization. This is because Rule Section 63.03 requires domestic carriers to obtain prior FCC approval for the transfer of control of its lines or its authorization to operate under Section 214 of the Act.
In this regard, the Commission has also made clear that an acquisition of assets – where customers will not lose service or have their service impaired as a result of the transaction – will be treated as a transfer of control under the FCC’s Rules.
Here, VoxNet entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement in which it agreed to transfer its customer base and contracts to Block Line. As a result of this asset sale, Block Line began service to all of VoxNet’s customers on September 1, 2021. Neither VoxNet nor Block Line sought FCC approval prior to completing the transaction, and 23 days following the completion of the transaction, Block Line and VoxNet filed a joint application for authority for the transfer of VoxNet’s assets along with a request for special temporary authority (“STA”).
In proposing the fine against VoxNet, the FCC notes that violations of its transfer of control notification requirements are significant because these sorts of violations impede the Commission’s ability to regulate telecommunications carriers by keeping track of ownership of authorizations, as well as ascertaining whether to refer the transaction that results in a transfer of control to other Executive Branch agencies for further review to assess any national security, law enforcement, foreign policy, or trade policy concerns.
We note that many carriers do not realize that they possess a domestic Section 214 authorization, since it is essentially issued by policy rather than pursuant to the filing and grant of an application. Thus, it is critically important for our telephone company clients to make sure that any transactions involving ownership changes or a sale of assets are evaluated to determine whether prior FCC approval is needed.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy and Sal Taillefer
FCC Settles Investigations into Failures to File Annual 911 Certification
On October 14, the FCC issued three orders settling three separate investigations into failures to file the annual 911 certification by Virgin Islands Telephone Corporation d/b/a Viya, Mud Lake Telephone Cooperative Association, Inc., and Highland Telephone Cooperative. As a result, each of these entities will pay up to $6,000 in civil penalties and will implement compliance plans to ensure the deadline is met going forward.
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 Contact: Sal Taillefer
Ride208 LLC Cited for Illegal Marketing of Equipment and Failure to Respond to FCC Inquiry
The FCC issued a citation in which it notified Ride208, LLC (“Ride208”) that it had unlawfully marketed an unauthorized radio frequency device and failed to respond to the Commission’s order. Specifically, Ride208 advertised and sold the Ride208 radio, which permits operation on communications channels for both the Family Radio Service (“FRS”) and General Mobile Radio Service (“GMRS”) in violation of Section 302(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the “Act”), as well as various sections of the FCC’s Rules. The FCC’s citation also notified Ride208 that it has violated federal law by failing to provide complete responses to the FCC’s March 31, 2021 Letter of Inquiry, and by failing to support its responses with a sworn declaration or affidavit. As a result, the FCC has directed Ride208 to take immediate steps to refrain from the importation, distribution, and offering for sale noncompliant radio frequency (“RF”) devices in the future. The Citation notes that if Ride208 fails to comply, it may be liable for significant fines of up to $22,021 per day for each unauthorized marketing violation, or each day of a continuing violation for each unauthorized model marketed, and up to $165,159 for any single act or failure to act, as well as other sanctions.
The FCC’s equipment certification process is designed to ensure that radio frequency devices that intentionally emit radio waves meet various operating requirements, including power levels, operating frequency bands, and channel bandwidth in order to prevent unwanted harmful interference.
The GMRS and FRS offer short-range, low-power radio services on shared frequency bands, with distinct power limits. A handheld GMRS radio is allowed to transmit at up to five Watts (dependent upon the specific frequencies utilized), while an FRS radio is limited to a maximum of two Watts. Prior to December of 2017, radios capable of operating under both GMRS and FRS services could be lawfully marketed under the Commission’s Rules. However, in 2017, the Commission notified retailers and manufacturers that it would cease authorizing combination GMRS/FRS radios as of December 17, 2017 and would prohibit the marketing of all combination GMRS/FRS radios after September 30, 2019. Combination radios that permit operation on both FRS frequencies and a licensed radio service, such as the GMRS, present the potential for unlicensed consumers to unwittingly disrupt licensed radio communications.
The Ride208 radio was marketed on its website as a 10-Watt handheld, two-way radio that operates on FRS, GMRS, UHF, and VHF frequencies. Additionally, antennas were sold as an optional accessory for the device. The Ride208 radio was imported from China and manufactured for Ride208 by Po Fung Electronic HK International Group Company, which appears to also manufacture the BaoFeng brand. Ride208 marketed its radio through its own website, as well as through a few local brick and mortar stores. Capable of operation on both FRS and GMRS channels, the Ride208 radio also has “adjustable wattages [capable of] any frequencies programmed.” Ride208 was unable to show that its radio had been authorized by a grant of equipment certification. However, the Company asserted that the Ride208 radio was identical to the BaoFeng UV82 two-way radio and, in support, provided a copy of BaoFeng/Po Fung’s laboratory test report, for which an FCC certification had been issued.
Although Ride208 claimed that its radio was authorized as the BaoFeng UV82, which was certified pursuant to sections 95.391, 95.561, and 95.1761 of the FCC’s rules in 2018, the FCC noted that no device capable of operation under both GMRS and FRS Rules could be authorized after December 27, 2017. Because the Ride208 radio could be operated at 10 Watts of power on all channels, it was ineligible for authorization to operate in the FRS because it exceeded the 2-Watt limit. Additionally, the FCC noted that regardless of its transmitter power, the Ride208 radio did not meet the FCC’s technical standards for authorization because the radio featured a detachable antenna – which is prohibited for both GMRS and FRS radios. And, finally, the FCC noted that pursuant to sections 95.591 and 95.1791 of the Commission’s rules, the marketing of combination GMRS/FRS radios has been prohibited since September 30, 2019, almost six months before Ride208 first marketed the Ride208 radio in March of 2020. As a result, the FCC concluded that Ride208 marketed a combination two-way radio that was not only noncompliant and unauthorized, but also incapable of being authorized to be marketed or sold in the United States.
This case is a good reminder that retailers and importers need to ensure that the devices they market comply with the relevant equipment marketing rules before they are advertised or imported for sale within the United States.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
FCC Proposes Measures to Secure and Strengthen Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts
In response to Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel’s proposal to enhance the security of the nation’s public emergency alert and warning systems – more commonly known as “the Emergency Alert System” and “Wireless Emergency Alerts”, (see Private User Update – September 2022), the FCC has just adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”), which if adopted, would bolster the operational readiness and security of these alerting systems, which are designed to warn the public about emergencies through alerts by television, radio and wireless phones.
In the NPRM, the FCC has proposed to:
Additionally, the FCC has indicated that it will be seeking comment on the effectiveness of the FCC’s current requirements for ensuring that Emergency Alert System equipment is ready to transmit alerts, and whether there are any alternative approaches that improve readiness.
Added security for emergency alert systems is generally beneficial; however, it is not clear whether the cost of additional filing and equipment modification requirements will impact small and rural carriers in a fair and reasonable manner. Comments in this proceeding will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and Reply Comments will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
Enterprise Wireless Alliance Files Petition for Rulemaking to Revamp Licensing in the 800 MHz Band
The Enterprise Wireless Alliance (“EWA”) has filed a Petition for Rulemaking requesting, among other things, that the FCC revamp the method for assigning frequencies within the 809-816/854-861 MHz portion of the 800 MHz band (“800 MHz Band Segment”), which currently divides the spectrum among specific licensee eligible pools, such as the Public Safety Pool, the Business/Industrial/Land Transportation (B/ILT) Pool, the Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) Pool or the General Category Pool. EWA believes that all frequencies within the 800 MHz Band segment should be reclassified as “General Category” and therefore available to all qualified applicants without regard to any potential special use categories. Additionally, EWA has also requested that the FCC terminate its rules reserving “Sprint-vacated” spectrum for use by certain classes of users (e.g., public safety and critical infrastructure). EWA believes that this restriction is holding back the ability to place those frequencies “into productive use as demand dictates.”
Following issuance of a public notice (which could be at any time), interested parties will have 30 days within which to file statements in support of or in opposition to this Petition. If the FCC ultimately adopts the Petition for Rulemaking, it will issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking — which will open up a further opportunity for public comment.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
Learn how to make a network cable (patch lead) and fit an RJ45 connector using a pass-through RJ45 crimping tool for Snap Plugs. This type of RJ45 plug allows the 8 conductors to pass through the end, making it easier to ensure the correct order of the coloured wires (T-568A or T-568B) and perfect placement inside the jack before crimping.
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