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Wireless News Aggregation

Friday — July 31, 2015 — Issue No. 668


Dear Friends of Wireless Messaging,

Welcome to The Wireless Messaging News. I hope you have a great weekend.


I had lunch with my good friend Ira Wiesenfeld this week. As you probably know, Ira is a field engineer who travels all over the country doing installation and maintenance of radio communications systems. He is always the one that I recommend when someone is looking for help with a paging system.

Ira's firm, Ira Wiesenfeld & Associates is rated as one of the top consulting firms in the United States. He has several great associates, including his brother A.J. Wiesenfeld, Jay Thompson, and others.

Lunch with Ira always produces several ideas for newsletter topics. He was telling me about the serious interference problems to radio systems in South Florida being caused by BDAs.

A BDA is a Bi-Dirrectional Amplifier (or signal booster) used to fill-in dead or weak spots in radio system coverage. We used these in Paging to fill-in coverage inside of buildings with tinted windows, where the metalic-tinting inside of the window glass was blocking the signal.

The big problem with some of the BDAs in South Florida was that they just about wiped out the radio trunking systems in Broward and Dade counties. That disabled a lot of very important two-way mobile radio systems. They had to use a helicopter to find the offending BDAs.

The way a radio BDA works is simple; it receives a signal and retransmits it on the same frequency. This is very different than a conventional radio repeater that receives a signal and retransmits it on another frequency.

The problem that happens is analogous to a PA system in an auditorium. There, a microphone picks up a person's voice on the podium, then feeds the sound of the voice into an amplifier, and then to loud speakers so that everyone in the audience can hear.

If someone turns up the volume too high feedback occurs. We have all heard that very-loud, ear-piercing, screeching sound when this happens. That's because sounds going into the microphone, then out of the speakers, and then back into the microphone again, get continuously re-amplified up to the maximum ability of the amplifier. It's like a dog chasing his tail. A very unpleasant experience.

So the same thing happens when a radio BDA is not installed and adjusted correctly. Feedback occurs, producing very broad (and strong) radio-frequency-interference signals.

In my humble opinion (*IMHO*) this happens because of the lack of training of the young technicians and engineers out there doing installations. When I started in this business, I was required to take a very difficult exam, and obtain a FCC first-class-commercial license. Some of these young people today (bless them for trying) don't know the difference between a ground and a door knob. They probably know a lot about computers, and IP, but not so much about RF. Unfortunately the FCC discontinued this type of licensing several years ago.

This is an area where Ira and I agree, as we do on most topics. He has co-authored several books, and study guides for engineers, and technicians that should help resolve this problem.

Discussing interference reminded me of my favorite interference story. Ira's brother, A.J., solved a very serious interference problem for me when I was managing Motorola's Latin American Paging Infrastructure group. I am hoping A.J. will write an article for a future issue of The Wireless Messaging News with all the details.


Now on to more news and views. There is a lot of very interesting news in this issue.

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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.


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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.


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Advertiser Index

American Messaging  
Critical Alert  
Critical Response Systems  
Easy Solutions  
Falcon Wireless Direct  
Hark Technologies  
Ira Wiesenfeld & Associates  
Ivycorp  
Leavitt Communications  
Preferred Wireless  
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Paging & Wireless Network Planners LLC — (Ron Mercer)  
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WaveWare Technologies

Investor Relations — Press Release

Spok Reports Second Quarter Operating Results

Software Revenues Increase, Bookings Up 10.9%;

Wireless Trends Show Strong Improvement;

Board Declares Regular Quarterly Dividend

SPRINGFIELD, Va.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Jul. 28, 2015—SPOK HOLDINGS, INC. (NASDAQ: SPOK), a GLOBAL LEADER IN CRITICAL COMMUNICATIONS, today announced operating results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2015. In addition, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.125 per share, payable on September 10, 2015 to stockholders of record on August 19, 2015.

Software revenue increased 13.9 percent to $17.7 million in the second quarter from $15.6 million in the year-earlier quarter, while wireless revenue was $30.2 million versus $33.5 million in the second quarter of 2014. Consolidated revenue for the second quarter was $48.0 million, compared to $49.1 million in the second quarter of 2014.

Second quarter EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and accretion) totaled $9.1 million, or 18.9 percent of revenue, compared to $11.7 million, or 23.9 percent of revenue, in the year-earlier quarter, and $10.0 million, or 20.8 percent of revenue, in the first quarter of 2015.

Net income for the second quarter was $3.4 million, or $0.16 per fully diluted share, compared to $4.3 million, or $0.19 per fully diluted share, in the second quarter of 2014.

Other key results and highlights for the second quarter included:

  • Software bookings increased 10.9 percent to $21.0 million from $19.0 million in the year-earlier quarter. Second quarter bookings included $10.5 million of operations bookings and $10.5 million of maintenance renewals.
  • Software backlog increased to $43.5 million at June 30, 2015, compared to $40.2 million a year earlier.
  • Of the $17.7 million in software revenue for the second quarter, $9.3 million was operations revenue and $8.4 million was maintenance revenue, compared to $8.1 million and $7.5 million, respectively, of the $15.6 million in software revenue for the second quarter of 2014.
  • The renewal rate for software maintenance in the second quarter was 99.8 percent.
  • The quarterly rate of paging unit erosion improved to 1.6 percent from 2.1 percent in the year-earlier quarter, while the annual rate of unit erosion improved to 6.8 percent from 10.1 percent in the year-earlier quarter. Both the quarterly and annual rates of unit erosion were the Company’s lowest in more than a decade. Net paging unit losses total 19,000 versus 28,000 in the second quarter of 2014. Paging units in service at June 30, 2015 totaled 1,211,000, compared to 1,299,000 a year earlier.
  • The quarterly rate of wireless revenue erosion improved to 1.5 percent from 2.4 percent in the year-earlier quarter, reaching its lowest level in four years, while the annual rate of wireless revenue erosion improved to 9.8 percent versus 11.3 percent in the second quarter of 2014, falling below 10 percent for the first time in more than 10 years.
  • Total paging ARPU (average revenue per unit) was $7.86, compared to $7.98 in the year-earlier quarter and $7.91 in the first quarter of 2015.
  • Consolidated operating expenses (excluding depreciation, amortization and accretion) totaled $38.9 million in the second quarter, compared to $37.4 million in the year-earlier quarter.
  • Capital expenses were $2.0 million, compared to $2.4 million in the year-earlier quarter.
  • Capital returned to stockholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases in the second quarter totaled $2.7 million and $3.0 million, respectively.
  • The Company’s cash balance at June 30, 2015 was $117.1 million.
  • The number of full-time equivalent employees at June 30, 2015 totaled 608, compared to 604 at March 31, 2015.

“We continued to make excellent progress in the second quarter,” said Vincent D. Kelly, president and chief executive officer. “Software revenue and bookings increased from the prior and year-earlier quarters and our backlog and pipeline remained strong. Wireless results also reflected solid improvement as the rates of paging unit and revenue erosion reached their best levels in many years. In addition, we met or exceeded our expectations on virtually all other key operating metrics for the quarter, including revenue, cash flow, and average revenue per unit (ARPU). Overall, we continued to operate profitably, enhance our product offerings, expand our global market reach, and generate sufficient cash flow to again return capital to stockholders in the form of cash dividends and share repurchases.”

Commenting on software results, Kelly said: “Software revenue totaled $17.7 million, a record high for the second quarter and third highest quarterly software revenue result in the Company’s history. During the quarter we continued to see growing demand from long-term customers for upgrades to existing applications as well as for new communications products and solutions, all of which contributed to an increase in software licenses, hardware and professional services among Spok’s expanding worldwide customer base. “In addition,” Kelly noted, “both operations and maintenance revenue rose from the second quarter of 2014, with the higher maintenance revenue reflecting our continued success in achieving maintenance renewals rates in excess of 99 percent.”

Kelly said second quarter bookings of $21.0 million included $10.5 million of operations bookings and $10.5 million in maintenance bookings, up 10.9 percent from the year-earlier quarter, while the software backlog of $43.5 million at June 30 neared its record high of $43.8 million. “Customer demand, especially among our healthcare customers, remained strongest for secure texting, upgrades to call center solutions, applications to increase patient safety, and improved clinical workflows.” Kelly added: “We also experienced an uptick in demand for such software solutions as critical smartphone communications, emergency management, and delivery of critical test results. Overall, we added more than 50 new customers during the quarter.”

Kelly said the Company continued to expand software sales outside the United States during the quarter. “While demand remained strongest in North America, we continued to grow our customer base in Europe, the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, we extended our sales focus to Latin America for the first time, attending a major healthcare tradeshow in Brazil that created an opportunity for our sale team to build partnerships and learn more about the needs of Latin American hospitals. As a result of these and other sales and marketing initiatives, we continued to build a solid pipeline of new business leads throughout targeted markets worldwide.”

The Company also recorded solid results for its wireless products and services in the quarter. “Gross pager placements totaled 40,000 versus 29,000 in the prior quarter, while gross disconnects of 59,000 improved from 79,000 a year ago,” Kelly said. “As a result, the rate of quarterly and annual net pager losses for the second quarter improved to 1.6 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively, the best levels in many years. In addition, the annual rate of wireless revenue erosion fell to 9.8 percent for the quarter, reaching its lowest level in more than a decade. Wireless sales continued to focus primarily on Spok’s core market segments of Healthcare, Government and Large Enterprise. Healthcare continued to be our best performing market segment with the highest rate of gross placements and lowest rate of unit disconnects, and comprised 78.9 percent of our direct units-in-service and 73.9 percent of direct paging revenue at June 30.”

Kelly also noted: “Once again all 15 Adult and 12 Children’s Hospitals named to U.S. News & World Report’s recently released 2015-2016 Honor Roll of Best Hospitals are among our current customers and rely on Spok solutions to help them provide the highest quality care for their patients.”

Kelly added that Spok again returned capital to stockholders during the second quarter, distributing cash dividends totaling $2.7 million and repurchasing 177,330 shares of common stock for $3,009,471, or $16.97 per share, under its stock buy-back program.

Shawn E. Endsley, chief financial officer, said: “Strong revenue from both software and wireless, along with focused expense management company-wide, resulted in solid operating cash flow for the quarter as we continued to invest in opportunities for long-term growth. Operating expenses were impacted by $2.5 million of one-time charges during the quarter. Absent these charges, consolidated expenses would have declined and EBITDA margin improved as compared to the first quarter. Our balance sheet also remained strong at June 30 with no debt and a cash balance of $117.1 million.”

Endsley said the Company is maintaining previously provided financial guidance for 2015, which projects total revenue to range from $183 million to $201 million, operating expenses (excluding depreciation, amortization and accretion) to range from $145 million to $154 million, and capital expenses to range from $5.5 million to $7.5 million.

* * * * * * * * *

Spok plans to host a conference call for investors on its second quarter operating results at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, July 30, 2015. Dial-in numbers for the call are 785-424-1666 or 877-876-9177. The pass code for the call is 9775155. A replay of the call will be available from 1:00 p.m. ET on July 30 until 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 13. Replay numbers are 719-457-0820 or 888-203-1112. The pass code for the replay is 9775155.

Spok’s Annual Meeting of Stockholders will be held on Wednesday, July 29, in Washington, D.C.

Also, Spok has scheduled its annual “Analyst Day” Investor Meeting for financial analysts for November 3, 2015 in New York City. For further details and to RSVP, please contact Stacy Sloan at STACY.SLOAN@SPOK.COM or call 703-269-6950, or send e-mail to INVESTOR.RELATIONS@SPOK.COM.

* * * * * * * * *

About Spok

SPOK HOLDINGS, INC., headquartered in Springfield, Va., is proud to be a leader in CRITICAL COMMUNICATIONS for healthcare, government, public safety, and other industries. We deliver smart, reliable solutions to help protect the health, well-being, and safety of people around the globe. Organizations worldwide rely on Spok for WORKFLOW IMPROVEMENT, SECURE TEXTING, PAGING SERVICES, CONTACT CENTER OPTIMIZATION, and PUBLIC SAFETY RESPONSE. When communications matter, Spok delivers. Visit us at SPOK.COM or find us on Twitter @Spoktweets.

Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act: Statements contained herein or in prior press releases which are not historical fact, such as statements regarding Spok’s future operating and financial performance, are forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause Spok’s actual results to be materially different from the future results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expectations include, but are not limited to, declining demand for paging products and services, continued demand for our software products and services, our ability to develop additional software solutions for our customers and manage our development as a global organization, the ability to manage operating expenses, future capital needs, competitive pricing pressures, competition from both traditional paging services and other wireless communications services, competition from other software providers, government regulation, reliance upon third-party providers for certain equipment and services, as well as other risks described from time to time in our periodic reports and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Although Spok believes the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, it can give no assurance that its expectations will be attained. Spok disclaims any intent or obligation to update any forward-looking statements.

Source: Spok Holdings, Inc. left arrow Financial Tables Follow at Source

Falcon Wireless Direct

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Failure of fire radios a catastrophe: chiefs

By Sean Chase, Daily Observer
Thursday, July 16, 2015 3:08:36 EDT PM

RYAN PAULSEN/DAILY OBSERVER Radio communications for the fire departments across the county and the City of Pembroke, seen here fighting a major apartment fire in 2011, have been problematic and need upgrading, say the Renfrew County Fire Chiefs Association.

PETAWAWA — A failure of the communications systems that guide Renfrew County's fire departments during emergency situations could be catastrophic, the town's fire chief is warning council.

Presenting a letter on behalf of the Renfrew County Fire Chief's Association, Chief Steve Knott informed councillors that long standing problems, such as redundancy and interoperability, are posing undue risk and significant liability to municipalities.

In the correspondence to all municipalities, the association charges that poor reception and dead zones, the lack of interoperability between departments, aging infrastructure, and the inability to provide information digitally during emergencies are just some of the factors plaguing the county's communications system. The June 10 letter was signed by the association's current chair, Renfrew fire chief Guy Longtin, Pembroke fire chief Dan Herback, the co-ordinator of Renfrew County Mutual Aid, and Knott, who chairs the communications committee.

"It's becoming a health and safety issue for the firefighters," said Knott. "There are certainly a lot of deficiencies in the system and they have been well documented."

The most glaring of all is fire departments rely on a tower at Foymount, located southwest of Eganville, for all their radio communications. Should it go down, they would be left in the dark.

Knott explained that while the province provides the communications services through the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, the hardware is supplied by the county's public works and engineering department. In 1997 when 911 came online, all call taking, paging and dispatching for municipal fire services were modified so that they came out of a single communications agency. Lower tier municipalities are invoiced by the county for each fire/dispatching service.

"It's up to each individual municipality to make sure their fire department has the proper equipment," said Knott. "We think there is a definitely a liability here."

It is not a new issue, the chief noted. In 2004, a presentation was made to the county's health committee. Then as recently as 2013, the county paramedic chief Michael Nolan, who is also the director of emergency services, commissioned an analysis from Murphy and Associates Emergency Management Consulting to conduct a comprehensive examination of the communications systems and calls for service. The firm concluded that, "There is factual and evidential information both historically and currently that identified the radio system infrastructure as the most prominent and imminent risk for a catastrophic single point of failure for fire and emergency services in the County of Renfrew."

According to the fire chiefs, this report has never been presented to County council. Knott pointed out that other counties are upgrading their communications infrastructure. For instance, the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville are incorporating a digital simulcast and paging system and Lanark County has gone to an analogue repeater system.

Mayor Bob Sweet anticipated the joint letter will bring the issue of communications back into focus at County council adding he intends to raise the matter at the August meeting of the operations committee.

"This is something that has to be taken care of," said Sweet.

With no action in the past 11 years, Councillor Treena Lemay wondered how long it would take for the county to address these pressing concerns.

"When are we going to come to the end and when are we going to come to a solution," said Lemay.

Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist

Source: TheDailyObserver.ca  

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Grand County Search and Rescue saves man at Bowen Lake

July 29, 2015
Sky-HiNews

Courtesy of GCSAR Flight For Life, pictured here during an earlier rescue, was instrumental in saving a man experiencing severe altitude sickness at Bowen Lake in the Neversummer Range on Tuesday, July 28.

Grand County Search and Rescue Called for Second High Altitude Rescue in Three Weeks

Grand County Search and Rescue was paged at 4:54 a.m. Tuesday, July 28, for a 20-year-old male, at Bowen Lake with probable altitude sickness at the 11,400-foot high lake.

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office was alerted through a Delorme “In Reach” two way satellite paging\texting device. This device is different than the PLB (personal locator beacon) used during last week’s mission in the Meadow Creek area. The Delorme device gives an exact GPS location and allows for two way communication through a third party rescue center.

The subject was attending an “adventure camp” and was in the field for multiple days. The group leader had planned to walk out at first light, and hike seven miles back to the trailhead. Searchers communicated back to the group and “ordered” them to stay put and await medical assistance.

The subject was exhibiting signs of HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema), including a crackling chest. This is not common and is potentially deadly.

After conferring with the Sheriff’s Office, Search and Rescue Incident Commander, Mike Leiser, decided to page the team and Grand County EMS Mountain Medical Response Team in preparation for the ascent to Bowen Lake. During this time, Flight for Life Colorado airship, code name Lifeguard 1, was called to launch and fly directly to the subject in an effort to immediately render medical aid.

Lifeguard 1 was able to land in a small open area near the subject, pick him up and make a quick exit for the hospital. The medical crew used a pulse oximeter to measure the subject’s oxygen saturation level, which normally would be approximately 90 percent at 10,000 feet. His level was just 54 percent. Recognizing the immediate danger of hypoxia; the flight nurse and paramedic administered oxygen at a very high rate. At last report the subject was out of immediate danger.

Had the group attempted to walk out unaided, or rescuers and medical personnel could not reach him in time; the subject would probably have had catastrophic medical issues and may not have survived the trip down.

“Working together; we probably saved a life today,” said Incident Commander Leiser.

Grand County Search and Rescue is a nonprofit, all-volunteer, professional rescue organization, accredited by the Mountain Rescue Association, providing four-season emergency back county service in Grand County at no charge to residents or guests. Find GCSAR online at www.facebook.com/GCSAR.

Source: Sky-HiNews

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PRESS RELEASE

Stacia Hylton Elected to Spok’s Board of Directors

Published: July 29, 2015 4:00 p.m. ET

SPRINGFIELD, Va., Jul 29, 2015 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Spok Holdings, Inc. SPOK, a global leader in critical communications, today announced the election of Stacia A. Hylton to its Board of Directors at the Company’s Annual Meeting of Stockholders, expanding the Board from seven to eight directors.

Hylton recently retired as Director of the United States Marshal Service (USMS), a federal law enforcement agency within the United States Department of Justice. She was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate in 2010. USMS, with more than 5,400 employees, is responsible for judicial security, fugitive operations, asset forfeitures, prisoner operations and transport and witness security. Previously, she was President of Hylton, Kirk & Associates, a Virginia-based private consulting firm, and served as Federal Detention Trustee in the United States Department of Justice. From 1980 to 2004, Hylton served in progressively responsible positions within USMS.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Stacia to our Board of Directors,” said Vincent D. Kelly, president and chief executive officer of Spok Holdings, Inc. “She is an accomplished executive and will bring extensive operational and management experience in technology, budgeting, procurement, and personnel. Having managed a multi-billion dollar budget and multi-year fiscal planning, we believe she can provide a unique perspective and important insights into government operations and procurement that will help us develop and grow key market segments for our critical communication solutions worldwide.”

Kelly added: “As a thoughtful and knowledgeable leader, we look forward to benefiting from Stacia’s counsel as we continue to position Spok for long-term growth.”

About Spok

Spok Holdings, Inc., SPOK, headquartered in Springfield, Va., is proud to be a leader in critical communications for healthcare, government, public safety, and other industries. We deliver smart, reliable solutions to help protect the health, well-being, and safety of people around the globe. Organizations rely on Spok for workflow improvement, secure texting, paging services, contact center optimization, and public safety response. When communications matter, Spok delivers. Visit us at spok.com or find us on Twitter @Spoktweets.

View source version on businesswire.com:
http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20150729006504/en/

SOURCE: Spok Holdings, Inc.

Spok Holdings, Inc.
Bob Lougee, 800-611-8488
Bob.Lougee@spok.com

Copyright Business Wire 2015

Source: MarketWatch


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Silent scanners: Emergency communications encrypted across Nova Scotia

TOM AYERS CAPE BRETON BUREAU
Published July 26, 2015 - 6:35pm


Cape Breton Regional Police say they haven’t heard any complaints from citizens about the encryption system. (TOM AYERS / Cape Breton Bureau)

SYDNEY — Citizens who like listening in on police, fire department and ambulance calls are out of luck, now that most emergency services communications in Cape Breton are conducted on fully encrypted radios.

The scanners have gone silent, for the most part, with the introduction of the second generation of Trunk Mobile Radio (TMR2) communications.

Being unable to monitor police traffic can be dangerous for citizens, said one longtime listener who didn’t want to be named.

“You don’t know what’s going on in the city unless you have a scanner,” said the citizen, who lives in Sydney’s north end.

“No offence to radios or newspaper, but you don’t hear everything that goes on.”

Recently, police were looking for a man seen on Dolbin Street, who reportedly had a gun. Thankfully, people listening to scanners were able to alert neighbours to stay inside, the citizen said.

“Certain things cannot be aired over the scanner, of course. It’s common logic. But they shouldn’t be blocking everything out.

“I’ve asked the police several times, and they say it’s not illegal to have a scanner. It’s illegal to follow the police cars when you have a scanner, because that’s interfering.”

The citizen said no one has yet heard of a way to crack the new encryption.

“I was hoping you would have heard,” the listener said.

Cape Breton Regional Police spokeswoman Desiree Vassallo said police haven’t heard any complaints from citizens about the encryption system.

She said police need secure communications, especially during sensitive operations when police don’t want suspects or the public to know exactly where they are.

Listeners can still occasionally hear some fire department traffic, because the Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s volunteer fire departments only have four radios each, for now.

The municipality is considering buying more radios for volunteers, but for now, fire department commanders use the TMR2 radios to talk to the dispatch centre and other emergency personnel, such as the police and ambulance services.

The commanders then communicate with individual firefighters using the older very-high-frequency (VHF) radios, which scanners can pick up.

That means listeners may hear some radio traffic, but not necessarily the most critical information, such as the location or severity of a fire or emergency scene.

Fire Chief Bernie MacKinnon said encryption is not important for fire departments, in part because fires are usually obvious and people can phone their neighbours or put messages out on social media anyway.

“TMR2 encryption is a police animal,” he said.

“When we have a raging fire, it’s not a secret. Even if we didn’t use the radios, everybody in the world is going to know, especially with the emerging technology that’s out there today.”

However, he said, maintaining clear communications with other emergency services is important.

Whether the service outfits all volunteer firefighters with the new radios is still under discussion, said MacKinnon, but it’s likely both VHF and TMR2 radios will be used for some time to come.

“To the best of my knowledge, outside of Halifax, all the other departments are running a hybrid system of using VHF in combination with TMR,” he said.

Source: The Chronicle Herald  

Ivy Corp   UltraTek Security Cameras

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Monitor your home, or business, “Day or Night.” True motion detection “turn-on and record” for “current” or “future viewing.” May be set up via Wi-Fi using the Wi-Fi capable unit.

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or call, Jim, 1-662-284-6724


Critical Response Systems

More than Paging.
First Responder Solutions.

Our patented technology notifies clinical personnel immediately, while tracking who receives and responds to each alarm. Users confirm or defer each event with a single button press, and analytic dashboards display response statistics in real time, as well as historically broken down by time, unit, room, and individual.

Our systems not only notify your personnel quickly and reliably, but also provide actionable feedback to fine-tune your procedures, reduce unnecessary alarms, and improve patient outcomes.

www.criticalresponsesystems.com

 

Bill To Improve Interoperable Emergency Communications For First Responders Passed By House

By: Homeland Security Today Staff
07/27/2015 (5:43 pm)

The State Wide Interoperable Communications Enhancement Act, or SWIC Enhancement Act (HR 2206), passed by the House would require states to have a Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC) or to delegate activities related to achieving interoperability to other individuals.

The author of the bill, Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications, said Monday afternoon, “Lack of interoperable communications impedes the ability of first responders to carry out effective responses to emergency situations. When first responders can’t communicate with one another, their ability to coordinate life-saving activities becomes jeopardized."

Payne said, "The SWIC Enhancement Act enables coordinated communication between emergency personnel and ensures first responders have the training and capabilities needed to keep themselves and our communities safe.”

Payne’s office said, “In recent years, states have been able to rely on the Department of Homeland Security’s Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program to support their communications governance structures and their Statewide Interoperability Coordinators, who work with emergency personnel across all levels of government, guiding the education and training of first responders and communications staff.”

SWICs are also responsible for leading all coordination efforts, including statewide planning, and developing a strategic vision for interoperability.

“However,” Payne’s office said, “due to the elimination of the Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program and reduced funding for other state and local homeland security grant programs, some states are eliminating SWICs. As a result, activities critical to maintaining and advancing interoperable emergency communications policies are not being effectively coordinated.”

Earlier this month, another bill authored by Payne, the DHS Interoperable Communications Act (HR 615) was signed into law by President Obama which requires DHS’s Under Secretary for Management to maintain interoperable communications among the components of the department.

Under the new law, DHS is also required to create and submit to Congress a strategy to achieve department-wide interoperable communications that includes known interoperability challenges and gaps and projected milestones.

Source: Homeland Security Today

Leavitt Communications

leavitt

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

UNICATION bendix king
ZETRON

motorola blue Motorola SOLUTIONS

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

STI Engineering

 
sti header
 

250W VHF Paging Transmitter

STI Engineering’s RFI-148 250 high performance paging transmitter features true DDS frequency generation that enables precise control and flexibility for a wide range of data transmission applications.

The transmitter is particularly suitable for large simulcast POCSAG and FLEX paging networks and can be used as drop-in replacement of older and obsolete transmitters. The unit has a proven track record in large scale critical messaging systems.

sti tx
  • High power output
    (selectable from 20 W - 250 W)
  • SNMP Diagnostics and alarms
  • Full VHF Band coverage
    (138-174 MHz)
  • DSP precision modulation
  • Integrated isolator
  • Sniffer port for in-rack receiver
  • Remote firmware upgrade capability
  • Software selectable frequency offset
  • Adjustable absolute delay correction
  • Front panel diagnostics
  • Hardware alarm outputs
  • High frequency stability
  • External reference option
  • FCC and ACMA approved
  • CE compliant version in development
sti 22 Boulder Road Malaga 6090 Western Australia
Telephone:  +61 8 9209 0900
Email:   sales@stiengineering.com.au
Facsimile:  +61 8 9248 2833
Web:   www.stiengineering.com.au

The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 Gains Momentum, Cosponsor List Tops 90

Keep those letters coming! According to the ARRL Regulatory Affairs Office, more than 4300 letters have been received from League members since the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 grassroots campaign began in March. All urge their members in both branches of Congress to become cosponsors of the bill. More letters are in the queue, and the correspondence seems to be having the desired effect. As of July 29, H.R. 1301 had attracted 94 cosponsors, with 8 signing on since mid-July. The League has a combined web page to provide a clearinghouse for all information on the identical pieces of legislation now in play in the US House and Senate. The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 would direct the FCC to extend its rules relating to reasonable accommodation of Amateur Service communications to private land-use restrictions. The FCC has been reluctant to extend those legal protections without direction from Congress.

ARRL Headquarters has forwarded 3433 letters to 402 individual US House members, seeking their co-sponsorship of H.R. 1301. The nascent campaign on behalf of the identical US Senate bill, S. 1685, has so far garnered more than 900 letters destined to 77 individual US Senate members. To help maintain the momentum, many ARRL Division Directors have been taking a letter-generating tool to conventions and hamfests.

Sending letters urging members of Congress to sign on as cosponsors of The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 via ARRL allows Headquarters staff to keep track of how many pieces of correspondence are going to which US representatives and senators. These are sorted and then hand-delivered to Capitol Hill. As ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, has pointed out, delivering these letters to Capitol Hill in person offers an opportunity to speak with Congressional staffers.

"The stack of letters is proof that voters care about the bill," she said in June. "We have to convince the staff people, so they'll advise the [Member of Congress] to cosponsor. That's how it works on Capitol Hill."

Congress's August recess provides an ideal opportunity to meet with lawmakers while they are in their home states and districts. Clubs also may want to invite a Member of Congress to visit a meeting. Those interested in following the trajectory of H.R. 1301 can sign up to receive the ARRL's free Legislative Update Newsletter.

All correspondence to representatives and senators must be signed and include the constituent's name and address. Send letters to ARRL Headquarters for hand delivery to the appropriate House or Senate member to ARRL, ATTN Amateur Radio Parity Act Grassroots Campaign, 225 Main St, Newington CT 06111.

In the July 29 Ham Radio Now news videocast, "Parity in the Senate," host Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, interviews ARRL Hudson Division Director Mike Lisenco, N2YBB, and ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD. Pearce said Lisenco and Imlay, "fill in some history of PRB-1 that you might not have heard, discuss how our current FCC is far more focused on the Internet...[and] how the deed restrictions and HOA rules prohibiting your antenna are not a 'private contract.'"

ARRL Files More "Grow Light" Ballast Complaints with FCC

The ARRL has filed three more complaints with the FCC, urging its Enforcement Bureau to investigate and initiate enforcement proceedings to halt the marketing and retail sale of certain RF lighting devices, typically known as "grow light" ballasts, which, it said, violate FCC Part 18 rules. The largely identical complaints zeroed in on three specific products: The Galaxy Legacy Selective Wattage Ballast, the Quantum Horticulture HPS/MH-600W RF Lighting Ballast, and the Lumatek "Dial-a-Watt Air-Cooled" 1000 W Ballast. The League had complained to the FCC in March 2014 about another Lumatek product, and noted that "apparently nothing has been done to date" in that case. The ARRL asserted that the three devices targeted in its most recent complaints generate "blatantly excessive conducted emissions." Further, the League alleged, the devices are being marketed and sold illegally — in both instances in violation of FCC Part 18 rules. Supporting all three complaints were detailed reports from the ARRL Laboratory that quantify the League's emission level concerns.


A Quantum grow light ballast unit under test in the ARRL Lab.

"The level of conducted emissions from [these devices] is so high that, as a practical matter, one RF ballast operated in a residential environment would create preclusive interference to Amateur radio HF communications throughout entire neighborhoods," ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, wrote in each complaint. The devices exceeded conducted emission limits under all test conditions, "sometimes by extreme margins, throughout most of the HF range," Imlay said in his letters.

Samples of each RF lighting device cited were purchased by ARRL through retail outlets. All are manufactured overseas and imported into the US.

In a similar vein as its recent complaint about marketing of certain RF lighting devices by The Home Depot, the ARRL pointed out that there were no FCC labels on two of the devices mentioned nor any FCC compliance information "anywhere in the documentation, or in or on the box, or on the device itself," in violation of FCC Part 18 rules.

The League asked the FCC to require removal of all such illegal "grow light" devices from retail sale and marketing and the recall of those devices already sold or available for retail sale, and it said the device importers should be subject to a forfeiture proceeding. Read more.

Source: The ARRL Letter July 30, 2015

Leavitt Communications

its stil here

It’s still here — the tried and true Motorola Alphamate 250. Now owned, supported, and available from Leavitt Communications. Call us for new or reconditioned units, parts, manuals, and repairs.

We also offer refurbished Alphamate 250s, Alphamate IIs, the original Alphamate and new and refurbished pagers, pager repairs, pager parts and accessories. We are FULL SERVICE in Paging!

E-mail Phil Leavitt ( pcleavitt@leavittcom.com ) for pricing and delivery information or for a list of other available paging and two-way related equipment.

black line

Phil Leavitt
847-955-0511
pcleavitt@leavittcom.com

leavitt logo

7508 N. Red Ledge Drive
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
www.leavittcom.com



Hark Technologies

hark logo

Wireless Communication Solutions


USB Paging Encoder

paging encoder

  • Single channel up to eight zones
  • Connects to Linux computer via USB
  • Programmable timeouts and batch sizes
  • Supports 2-tone, 5/6-tone, POCSAG 512/1200/2400, GOLAY
  • Supports Tone Only, Voice, Numeric, and Alphanumeric
  • PURC or direct connect
  • Pictured version mounts in 5.25" drive bay
  • Other mounting options available
  • Available as a daughter board for our embedded Internet Paging Terminal (IPT)

Paging Data Receiver (PDR)

pdr

  • Frequency agile—only one receiver to stock
  • USB or RS-232 interface
  • Two contact closures
  • End-user programmable w/o requiring special hardware
  • 16 capcodes
  • POCSAG
  • Eight contact closure version also available
  • Product customization available

Other products


Please see our web site for other products including Internet Messaging Gateways, Unified Messaging Servers, test equipment, and Paging Terminals.

Contact
Hark Technologies
717 Old Trolley Rd Ste 6 #163
Summerville, SC 29485
Tel: 843-821-6888
Fax: 843-821-6894
E-mail: sales@harktech.com left arrow CLICK
Web: http://www.harktech.com left arrow CLICK

Hark Technologies


Preferred Wireless

preferred logo

Terminals & Controllers:
1 ASC1500 Complete, w/Spares  
3 CNET Platinum Controllers 
2 GL3100 RF Director 
1 GL3000 ES — 2 Chassis
1 GL3000L Complete w/Spares
40 SkyData 8466 B Receivers
1 Unipage—Many Unipage Cards & Chassis
16 Zetron M66 Transmitter Controllers  
Link Transmitters:
4 Glenayre QT4201 25W Midband Link TX
1 Glenayre QT6994, 150W, 900 MHz Link TX
3 Motorola 10W, 900 MHz Link TX (C35JZB6106)
2 Eagle 900 MHz Link Transmitters, 60 & 80W
2 Motorola Q2630A, 30W, UHF Link TX
VHF Paging Transmitters
19  Motorola Nucleus 125W CNET
6 Motorola Nucleus 350W CNET
12 Motorola Nucleus 350W Advanced Control
1 Glenayre QT7505
1 Glenayre QT8505
UHF Paging Transmitters:
16 Glenayre UHF GLT5340, 125W, DSP Exciter
900 MHz Paging Transmitters:
2 Glenayre GLT8200, 25W (NEW)
15 Glenayre GLT-8500 250W
3 Glenayre GLT 8600, 500W

SEE WEB FOR COMPLETE LIST:

www.preferredwireless.com/equipment left arrow


Too Much To List • Call or E-Mail

Rick McMichael
Preferred Wireless, Inc.
888-429-4171 rickm@preferredwireless.com left arrow


Preferred Wireless

NEW COMPUTER FOR THE NEWSLETTER

It's Time To Help

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SQUEAK—SQUEAK—SQUEAK

They say, “a squeaking wheel gets the grease.”

Adobe has updated their Creative Cloud (Internet authoring) applications so I needed to replace one of my computers with a Mac Mini in order to run the new programs. If you would like to help sponsor this purchase, please click on the Donate button below.

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This newsletter is made possible by donations from readers, and advertising from vendors.

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Why you should ditch SMS and embrace over-the-top messaging apps


Credit: Derek Walter

Services like Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp offer so many advantages over the antiquated method of text messaging.

By Derek Walter
Greenbot | Jul 30, 2015 4:00 AM PT

Messaging is probably one of the most common tasks you perform on your smartphone. So, like anything else, you should seek out the best apps and services to do it.

That means making the break with standard text messaging, or SMS. It’s actually a rather old technology, harking back to the days of the flip phone. But like the fax machine and landlines, it’s managed to stick around.

Part of that is convenience. Put someone’s phone number in your contacts and then just text away. But all the innovation and extra features that come with apps like Hangouts or Facebook Messenger are hard to ignore: you can share your location in real-time, sync up the conversation with desktop apps, and stay in touch over Wi-Fi if you are without a cell signal.

Pushing your friends onto a messaging service remains the biggest challenge, but it’s worth the effort (well depending on your friends). Here are a few thoughts on why using one of the many instant messaging apps offers a compelling alternative to text messaging.

The backstory to SMS and IM

SMS stands for Short Message Service. It’s a standard communication platform built for for early days of mobile communication, when texting someone meant flipping open your phone and trying to communicate with the buttons on the dial pad.

Messages were also capped in length at 160 characters (barely more than a tweet). That limitation remains in effect, though a modern text messaging apps will turn longer messages into an MMS (Multimedia messaging) in order to workaround that limitation. It's part of the GSM protocol and doesn't require a data connection.


Google Play

SMS messaging is still around, so much so that Google built a dedicated app just for SMS and MMS.

Instant messaging works differently. Messages are sent over the 'net and through the servers of whichever company runs the service. As such, you just need an Internet connection to communicate, whereas with SMS your device needs to be connected to a cellular network.

This is why IM was first popularized on desktop computers by services like AOL’s AIM, ICQ, and eventually Google Talk, which was the forerunner to Hangouts.

Though IM has been on Android a while, Google’s most ambitious foray was through Hangouts. There are plenty of competitors, as being the hub for all your communication gives these companies a chance to hook you to their ecosystem. Fortunately, this competition has brought about a lot of innovation in the messaging space.

These mobile messaging apps are frequently called "over-the-top" (OTT) messaging, as the services operate on the Internet as an alternative to what is offered by your carrier.

IM app advantages over SMS

As indicated, instant messaging on your smartphone is a vastly superior method of communicating with others. Here are a few


WhatsApp, Hangouts, and Messenger (left to right) are among the most popular messaging apps for Android.

Read notification: Many apps give some type of indication as to whether or not the recipient has read the message, usually through a small icon in the conversation view. It’s great for letting you now you may have to bug that particular person again if they didn’t read your message. Some will also show you when someone is replying, before the message comes through.

Location sharing: As an example, with Hangouts when someone asks, “where are you?” the app will automatically offer to share your location. It’s a slick feature, though Hangouts isn’t the only app to send your current place in the world. This type of tool is a handy way to find out if someone is going to be late for that meetup.

Seamless conversations: Conversations can get disjointed when you switch from chatting on the desktop via IM to texting on the phone. Using an instant messaging app adds a good flow to the conversation because you can pick up from where you left off. This is the strength of Apple’s iMessage, of course. But since it’s iOS-only, you’ll need to pick your favorite Android alternative.

No need for a cellphone connection: Using a Wi-Fi connection to message people is particularly helpful if you’re out of the country or in a spotty coverage area. Unless your carrier lets you text out of the country, an IM app is the best chance at keeping you connected to others.

Stickers: Who doesn’t like stickers? Many apps go beyond the Emoji with a bunch of zany characters that sometimes are the best way to get an idea across. If nothing else, they can liven up a boring day at the office.

The best instant messaging apps

Which service you use the most may depend on several different factors. Some are super popular overseas, like WhatsApp and WeChat. If you are heading across the pond or have friends on other continents you may find that this is the best way to get a hold of them.


Skype remains a popular method for instant messaging with others.

Here in the U.S., everyone’s access to Facebook, and the social network’s plans to build its app into an eCommerce platform, makes it a must-have. Skype remains a powerhouse in video chat, and the instant messaging component can make it convenient if you need to follow up after a call. A few of my hard-core Android friends swear by Hangouts, so I use that as much as possible.

The caveat: you’ll need more than one

You may have noticed one thing about the solutions outlined here: there are way too many. Some of this is Apple’s fault—by keeping iMessage proprietary to Apple devices, iPhone users will forever stick to the Messages app, which means ugly green messages (standard SMS/MMS) to Android users.

The best hope is that Google makes Hangouts more attractive, which could mean more users. Facebook’s efforts into Messenger, and the fact that just about everyone is on Facebook, make it a good option. You probably can’t (or don’t need to) completely escape SMS, but you’ll find the conversations easier to follow if you do.


Derek Walter
Derek Walter is a freelance technology writer based in Northern California. He is the author of Learning MIT App Inventor, a hands-on guide to building your own Android apps.
Source: Greenbot  

Critical Alert

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Critical Alert Systems, Inc.

Formed in 2010, CAS brought together the resources and capabilities of two leading critical messaging solutions providers, UCOM™ and Teletouch™ Paging, along with lntego Systems™, a pioneer in next-generation nurse call systems. The result was an organization that represented more than 40 years of combined experience serving hospitals and healthcare providers.

CAS was created to be a single-source provider for hospitals and healthcare facilities in need of advanced nurse call and communications technologies.

Unlike our competitors, our product development process embraced the power of software from its inception. This enables us to design hardware-agnostic solutions focused on built-in integration, flexibility and advanced performance.

LEARN MORE

Nurse Call Solutions

Innovation in Nurse Call

Innovative, software-based nurse call solutions for acute and long-term care organizations.

LEARN MORE

Paging Solutions

The Most Reliable Paging Network

To this day, for critical messaging, nothing beats paging. It’s simply the best way to deliver a critical message.

LEARN MORE

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Copyright 2015 - Critical Alert Systems, Inc.


BloostonLaw Newsletter

Selected portions 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 with the firm’s permission.


BloostonLaw Telecom Update Vol. 18, No. 31 July 29, 2015

The BloostonLaw Telecom Update newsletter will be on our traditional August recess, in light of the usual slowdown in the news cycle at this time of year. We will resume publication on September 3. Meanwhile, we will keep clients apprised of significant developments via memos and special supplements.

Headlines


FCC Officially Grants AT&T-DIRECTV Merger

On July 24, the FCC officially granted the AT&T-DirecTV merger, about which Chairman Wheeler issued an initial statement last week. According to the Order, AT&T will acquire DirecTV in a stock-and-cash transaction in which each share of DirecTV common stock will be converted into $28.50 in cash plus the right to receive between 1.724 and 1.905 shares of AT&T common stock, depending on AT&T’s stock price prior to closing.

At closing, DirecTV will merge with and into a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T, Steam Merger Sub LLC, which will be the surviving entity and will be renamed “DIRECTV.” The new DIRECTV will own the stock of the subsidiaries of the pre-transaction DIRECTV, and these subsidiaries will continue to hold the FCC licenses and other authorizations they held prior to the transaction.

A news statement issued earlier today set out key conditions of the merger:

  • Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) Deployment. Post-merger AT&T-DirecTV must expand FTTP service to 12.5 million customer locations.

  • Gigabit Service to E-rate Eligible Schools and Libraries. AT&T-DirecTV must offer gigabit service to any E-rate eligible school or library where AT&T deploys FTTP service.

  • Non-Discriminatory Usage-Based Practices. AT&T-DirecTV must refrain from imposing discriminatory usage-based allowances or other discriminatory retail terms and conditions on its broadband Internet service.

  • Internet Interconnection Disclosure Requirements. AT&T-DirecTV must submit its Internet interconnection agreements to the FCC so that the FCC may monitor the terms of such agreements to determine whether AT&T is denying or impeding access to its networks in anticompetitive ways through the terms of these agreements.

  • Discounted Broadband Services for Low-Income Subscribers. AT&T-DirecTV must make available an affordable, low-price standalone broadband service to low-income consumers in its broadband service area.

  • Compliance Program and Reporting. AT&T-DirecTV must retain both an internal company compliance officer and an independent, external compliance officer that will report and monitor, respectively, the combined entity’s compliance with all conditions of the merger.

FCC Task Force Seeks Input on Internal Process Reform

On July 21, Chairman Wheeler's Special Counsel published a blog post providing an update on the recently formed task force that will consider ways to improve the effectiveness of the FCC's internal processes. According to the post, the task force is seeking comment on:

  • the use of delegated authority, and practices for providing notice of matters being handled on delegated authority;

  • procedures for pre-vote circulation of FCC-level matters;

  • procedures associated with editing FCC decisions;

  • practices to encourage efficient FCC decision-making, such as the Consent Agenda;

  • approaches for providing increased transparency of FCC procedures and protocols, and practices to track, disclose and encourage prompt Commissioner votes on items on circulation.

No filing deadline was listed, which means the opportunity to comment could end at any time. Clients interested in filing comments on the FCC internal process reform should contact the firm for more information.

Law & Regulation


Media Bureau Suspends Comment Deadline in Vacant Channel Proceeding

The Commission has just suspended until further notice the August 3 comment deadline for the NPRM in the Incentive Auction Vacant Channels proceeding (MB Docket 15-146). The June 11 NPRM (FCC 15-68) tentatively concluded that the Commission would preserve at least one vacant UHF band TV channel in each geographic service area for white space devices and wireless microphones.

In addition to this vacant TV band channel, unlicensed users will be able to conduct operations in whatever guard bands are needed to accommodate the paired 600 MHz band plan for mobile service (which will vary from market to market based on the participation level of broadcasters in the incentive auction) and in the 11 megahertz duplex gap that exists between the 600 MHz mobile uplink and downlink bands.

Google and Intel and other large white space and unlicensed spectrum advocates have consistently urged the Commission to ensure that a significant amount of unlicensed spectrum will be available in the TV Bands after the incentive auction and repacking of broadcasters has been completed. However, LPTV, TV translator and Broadcast Auxiliary Service stations, which are important operations but which are licensed with secondary status in the TV bands, were seemingly left out of the discussion, and some advocates have argued that these vital services may be irreparably harmed and their substantial investments impaired by the Incentive Auction process.

Per the FCC Order (DA 15-867), which was adopted and released this afternoon, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is requesting that the Commission suspend the comment and reply comment deadlines for the Vacant Channels NPRM until further notice. NAB's motion for extension of time argues that an extension is necessary because if the Commission decides to allow a limited number of broadcast TV stations to be reassigned to channels within the duplex gap, this could impact the use of this spectrum by white space devices and wireless microphones. The possibility that even just a few TV broadcast operations may be relocated to the duplex gap in just a handful of markets has a wide array of commenters, and especially broadcasters, up in arms.

In somewhat of a subtle understatement, the Chief of the FCC's Media Bureau observes at Para 3 of the Order that proposals set forth in the Vacant Channel NPRM are "animated by a concern that, following the incentive auction and the repacking process, there will be fewer unused television channels available for use by white space devices and wireless microphones.”

The FCC says "animated," but under the circumstances it may have been more appropriate to say “agitated.” Either way, the comment and reply deadlines on the Vacant Channels NPRM are suspended until further notice. Depending on the outcome of the pending proceeding, the LPTV industry may consider a challenge to the Incentive Auction rules if the FCC doesn't listen to and address the concerns of incumbent operators, even if they are operating on secondary status. Regardless of the merits, a judicial challenge could very well delay or add uncertainty to the planned start date for the auction in early 2016. As we noted in the last BloostonLaw Telecom Update, the FCC is scheduled to vote on an Auction Procedures Public Notice next week. If adopted in its current form, the PN would set Tuesday, March 29, 2016 as the official start date for the Broadcast Incentive Auction.

FCC Reorganizes Enforcement Bureau Field Offices

In an effort to modernize its enforcement efforts, the FCC has adopted a plan that is designed to “improve efficiency, better position the agency to do effective radio interference detection and resolution and to meet other enforcement needs, and save millions of dollars annually after implementation is complete.”

What does this mean? After more than 20 years, the Commission has determined that there is a significant need to change the way its Enforcement Bureau conducts business. In large measure, this initiative is the result of significant technological changes over the years and limited tax dollars. The FCC has stated that this reorganization should not be perceived as a step-back from its enforcement activities. Rather, the reorganization of its field offices is intended to align the Enforcement Bureau structure and operations with the FCC’s priorities, including the elimination of radio frequency interference. However, some industry members have expressed concern that it may become more difficult to get the Commission’s attention in the event of an interference problem.

As part of the reorganization, the FCC is changing the qualifications for its field agents and realigning its offices. Of significance, all field agents will now be required to be electrical engineers. While the FCC will continue to operate offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Columbia, Maryland, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, it will be closing its offices in Anchorage, Buffalo, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Norfolk, Virginia, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Juan, Seattle and Tampa. In order to make up for these office closures, the FCC will rotate field agents through Anchorage, San Juan and Kansas City on a periodic basis. Finally, the FCC will also base rapid deployment or strike teams in Denver and Columbia, Maryland in order to supplement enforcement efforts at the remaining field offices as well as support high-priority enforcement actions.

GPSPS Fined $9 Million for Cramming, Slamming and Other Violations

On July 23, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued a Forfeiture Order to GPSPS, Inc. assessing a fine of over $9 million for cramming, slamming, and submitting falsified evidence to government regulatory officials as proof that 41 consumers had authorized the company to switch their long distance providers.

As we reported in the March 4 edition of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, the Bureau reviewed more than 150 complaints against GPSPS that consumers filed with the Commission, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Public Utility Commission of Texas (Texas PUC), and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). All complainants contended that GPSPS switched their preferred long distance service provider without their authorization, and most affirmatively asserted that they had never heard of or spoken to GPSPS before discovering GPSPS’s charges on their telephone bills. Some complainants indicated that GPSPS told them the company had audio recordings evidencing the authorization and that, upon hearing those recordings, contended they were fake. GPSPS also apparently failed to respond full and in a timely manner to the Bureau’s investigation.

Senate Subcommittee Votes to Block Funding for FCC Net Neutrality Enforcement

On July 22 the Senate appropriations subcommittee voted on a broad funding measure that, among other things, prohibits the FCC from regulating rates under the net neutrality order. The bill would also cut the FCC’s funding by $20 million from last year’s funding. It will be voted on by the full committee on Thursday; however, it must still be signed by President Obama before becoming law — a very unlikely possibility given the President’s vocal support for Net Neutrality.

As we reported in the June 17 edition of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, a bill was passed by the House Financial Services Subcommittee would impose the same spending restriction, cut the FCC budget by $25 million, requires newly proposed regulations to be made publicly available for 21 days before the Commission votes on them, and prohibits the FCC from regulating rates for either wireline or wireless Internet service.

Industry


Politico Takes RUS to Task over Broadband Funding

According to a recent article in POLITICO, “RUS has strayed from its rural mission. Even the agency’s staunchest defenders in Congress have learned: When it came to funding broadband projects, RUS never found its footing in the digital age.”

The news source reports that a recent investigation it had conducted found that “roughly half of the nearly 300 projects RUS approved as part of the 2009 Recovery Act have not yet drawn down the full amounts they were awarded” and that “[m]ore than 40 of the projects RUS initially approved never got started at all, raising questions about how RUS screened its applicants and made its decisions in the first place.” The canceled projects amounted to approximately $300 million in loans and grants, and approximately $277 million in awarded funding remains to be drawn (with any money that is not drawn by the end of September being forfeited, possibly stranding the amounts already drawn in unfinished projects).

“We are left with a program that spent $3 billion,” Mark Goldstein, an investigator at the Government Accountability Office, told POLITICO, “and we really don’t know what became of it.”

In criticizing RUS, POLITICO offers a quote from Iowa senator Tom Harkin that will likely strike a chord with anyone dealing with the FCC’s letter of credit requirements for its recent support mechanisms. At the 2005 nomination hearing of James Andrew to be the administrator of RUS, Harkin said, “We were not risk averse when we put telephone lines out to farmsteads and our small towns in America. We knew there was risk in doing that, but we managed it. RUS manages risk. And that is what I am asking in broadband, manage risk. Don’t be so risk adverse that you say, ‘We cannot give a loan out there because we want to make 100 percent certain that the company we give it to will not default and will not fail. Some of them will …”

State Attorneys General Urge Companies to Offer Call Blocking Technology to Customers

Multiple news outlets are reporting that on July 22 forty-five state attorneys general sent a letter to AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and CenturyLink urging them to take “full advantage” of the FCC’s June 18th clarification that call-blocking technology does not violate federal law, and to offer such technology to their customers. According to the letter, previous discussions regarding the implementation of call-blocking technologies were cut short by concerns of such violations, but that the FCC’s clarification “should remove any doubt” about the carriers’ legal authority “to empower consumers by providing call-blocking technology to help stop robocalls, scam text messages and unwanted telemarketing calls.”

Deadlines

JULY 31: FCC FORM 507, UNIVERSAL SERVICE QUARTERLY LINE COUNT UPDATE. Line count updates are required to recalculate a carrier's per line universal service support, and is filed with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). This information must be submitted on July 31 each year by all rate-of-return incumbent carriers, and on a quarterly basis if a competitive eligible telecommunications carrier (CETC) has initiated service in the rate-of-return incumbent carrier’s service area and reported line count data to USAC in the rate-of-return incumbent carrier’s service area, in order for the incumbent carrier to be eligible to receive Interstate Common Line Support (ICLS). This quarterly filing is due July 31 and covers lines served as of December 31, 2014. Incumbent carriers filing on a quarterly basis must also file on September 30 (for lines served as of March 31, 2015); December 30 (for lines served as of June 30, 2015), and March 31, 2016, for lines served as of September 30, 2015).

JULY 31: CARRIER IDENTIFICATION CODE (CIC) REPORTS. Carrier Identification Code (CIC) Reports must be filed by the last business day of July (this year, July 31). These reports are required of all carriers who have been assigned a CIC code by NANPA. Failure to file could result in an effort by NANPA to reclaim it, although according to the Guidelines this process is initiated with a letter from NANPA regarding the apparent non-use of the CIC code. The assignee can then respond with an explanation. (Guidelines Section 6.2). The CIC Reporting Requirement is included in the CIC Assignment Guidelines, produced by ATIS. According to section 1.4 of that document: At the direction of the NANPA, the access providers and the entities who are assigned CICs will be requested to provide access and usage information to the NANPA, on a semi-annual basis to ensure effective management of the CIC resource. (Holders of codes may respond to the request at their own election). Access provider and entity reports shall be submitted to NANPA no later than January 31 for the period ending December 31, and no later than July 31 for the period ending June 30. It is also referenced in the NANPA Technical Requirements Document, which states at 7.18.6: CIC holders shall provide a usage report to the NANPA per the industry CIC guidelines … The NAS shall be capable of accepting CIC usage reports per guideline requirements on January 31 for the period ending December 31 and no later than July 31 for the period ending June 30. These reports may also be mailed and accepted by the NANPA in paper form. Finally, according to the NANPA website, if no local exchange carrier reports access or usage for a given CIC, NANPA is obliged to reclaim it. The semi-annual utilization and access reporting mechanism is described at length in the guidelines.

AUGUST 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 recent 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 (Form 499-A) that was due April 1. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens and Gerry Duffy.

AUGUST 1: FCC FORM 502, NUMBER UTILIZATION AND FORECAST REPORT: Any wireless or wireline carrier (including paging companies) that have received number blocks—including 100, 1,000, or 10,000 number blocks—from the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA), a Pooling Administrator, or from another carrier, must file Form 502 by August 1. Carriers porting numbers for the purpose of transferring an established customer’s service to another service provider must also report, but the carrier receiving numbers through porting does not. Resold services should also be treated like ported numbers, meaning the carrier transferring the resold service to another carrier is required to report those numbers but the carrier receiving such numbers should not report them. Reporting carriers file utilization and forecast reports semiannually on or before February 1 for the preceding six-month reporting period ending December 31, and on or before August 1 for the preceding six-month reporting period ending June 30.

AUGUST 29: COPYRIGHT STATEMENT OF ACCOUNTS. The Copyright Statement of Accounts form plus royalty payment for the first half of calendar year 2015 is due to be filed August 29 at the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office by cable TV service providers.

SEPTEMBER 1: FCC FORM 477, LOCAL COMPETITION AND BROADBAND REPORTING FORM. Three types of entities must file this form.

  1. Facilities-based Providers of Broadband Connections to End User Locations: Entities that are facilities-based providers of broadband connections — which are wired “lines” or wireless “channels” that enable the end user to receive information from and/or send information to the Internet at information transfer rates exceeding 200 kbps in at least one direction — must complete and file the applicable portions of this form for each state in which the entity provides one or more such connections to end user locations. For the purposes of Form 477, an entity is a “facilities-based” provider of broadband connections to end user locations if it owns the portion of the physical facility that terminates at the end user location, if it obtains unbundled network elements (UNEs), special access lines, or other leased facilities that terminate at the end user location and provisions/equips them as broadband, or if it provisions/equips a broadband wireless channel to the end user location over licensed or unlicensed spectrum. Such entities include incumbent and competitive local exchange carriers (LECs), cable system operators, fixed wireless service providers (including “wireless ISPs”), terrestrial and satellite mobile wireless service providers, MMDS providers, electric utilities, municipalities, and other entities. (Such entities do not include equipment suppliers unless the equipment supplier uses the equipment to provision a broadband connection that it offers to the public for sale. Such entities also do not include providers of fixed wireless services (e.g., “Wi-Fi” and other wireless ethernet, or wireless local area network, applications) that only enable local distribution and sharing of a premises broadband facility.)
  2. Providers of Wired or Fixed Wireless Local Telephone Services: Incumbent and competitive LECs must complete and file the applicable portions of the form for each state in which they provide local exchange service to one or more end user customers (which may include “dial-up” ISPs).
  3. Providers of Interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Service: Interconnected VoIP service is a service that enables real-time, two-way voice communications; requires a broadband connection from the user’s location; requires Internet-protocol compatible customer premises equipment; and permits users generally to receive calls that originate on the public switched telephone network and to terminate calls to the public switched telephone network. Interconnected VoIP providers must complete and file the applicable portions of the form for each state in which they provide interconnected VoIP service to one or more subscribers, with the state determined for reporting purposes by the location of the subscriber’s broadband connection or the subscriber’s “Registered Location” as of the data-collection date. “Registered Location” is the most recent information obtained by an interconnected VoIP service provider that identifies the physical location of an end user.
  4. Providers of Mobile Telephony Services: Facilities-based providers of mobile telephony services must complete and file the applicable portions of this form for each state in which they serve one or more mobile telephony subscribers. A mobile telephony service is a real-time, two-way switched voice service that is interconnected with the public switched network using an in-network switching facility that enables the provider to reuse frequencies and accomplish seamless handoff of subscriber calls.

A mobile telephony service provider is considered “facilities-based” if it serves a subscriber using spectrum for which the entity holds a license that it manages, or for which it has obtained the right to use via lease or other arrangement with a Band Manager.

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 Commission 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.

Calendar At A Glance


July
Jul. 31 – Reply comments are due on Part 4 Outage Reporting NPRM.
Jul. 31 – FCC Form 507 (Universal Service Quarterly Line Count Update) is due.
Jul. 31 – Carrier Identification Code (CIC) Report is due.

August
Aug. 1 – FCC Form 502 due (North American Numbering Plan Utilization and Forecast Report).
Aug. 1 – FCC Form 499-Q (Quarterly Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet) is due.
Aug. 5 – Comments are due on Transparency Exemption proceeding.
Aug. 13 – Effective date for Lifeline rule revisions (including document retention requirements).
Aug. 17 – Comments on Lifeline Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking are due.
Aug. 21 – Comments due on Video Programming Competition Report.
Aug. 29 – Copyright Statement of Accounts is due.

September
Sep. 1 – FCC Form 477 due (Local Competition and Broadband Report).
Sep. 4 – Reply comments are due on Transparency Exemption proceeding.
Sep. 15 – Reply comments on Lifeline Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking are due.
Sep. 21 – Reply comments are due on Video Programming Competition report.
Sep. 25 – Comments are due on Section IV.B of the Special Access Data NPRM.
Sep. 30 – FCC Form 396-C (MVPD EEO Program Annual Report).


BloostonLaw Private Users Update Vol. 16, No. 7 July 2015

Enforcement Alert: FCC Finding Tower Violations Through Antenna Structure Registration Database

Recently, the FCC has noticed a trend where applications for antenna structure registration (ASR) contain defects that point to violations of the FCC’s ASR rules that could result in significant fines. These violations include:

  • Failing to obtain both a Determination of No Hazard from the Federal Aviation Administration and an ASR registration prior to constructing the antenna structure
  • Failing to notify the FCC within five days of completing construction of the tower or dismantling the tower
  • Installation of obstruction marking and lighting that differs from the specifications authorized by the FCC in the ASR system and/or specified on the Determination of No Hazard issued by the FAA.
  • Failing to update the ASR registration database upon receipt of a new/updated Determination of No Hazard from the FAA for an antenna structure.
  • Failure to report ownership changes

Additionally, now that the FCC’s ASR application process includes an environmental assessment, the filing process has become more complex and confusing. The application is now a two-step process, with the second step occurring after the environmental process has been completed. As a result, the FCC is also taking this opportunity to remind applicants that ASR applicants may not prematurely certify that the antenna structure would not have a “significant environmental effect.” Doing so could result in the imposition of monetary forfeitures. In this regard, the FCC has found that this issue generally arises when the “Step 2” amendment is made, including:

  • The applicant uses ASR Certification Option No.1 (indicating that the construction is exempt from environmental notification due to another agency’s review before an environmental review has actually been completed);
  • The applicant uses ASR Certification Option No. 3 (asserting that an environmental notification has been completed, and that the FCC has notified the applicant that an Environmental assessment is not required before the Bureau has notified the applicant that an Environmental Assessment is not required); or
  • The applicant uses ASR Certification Option No. 4 (asserting that the FCC has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact before the FCC has issued such finding).

In order to avoid the potential for monetary forfeitures, it is very important that our clients ensure that their ASR filings are made in a timely manner and in compliance with the FCC’s environmental rules. We recommend that clients consult us with any questions, or have us assist with preparation of their filings, to avoid fines.

FCC Reorganizes Enforcement Bureau Field Offices

In an effort to modernize its enforcement efforts, the FCC has adopted a plan that is designed to “improve efficiency, better position the agency to do effective radio interference detection and resolution and to meet other enforcement needs, and save millions of dollars annually after implementation is complete.”

What does this mean? After more than 20 years, the Commission has determined that there is a significant need to change the way its Enforcement Bureau conducts business. In large measure, this initiative is the result of significant technological changes over the years and limited tax dollars. The FCC has stated that this reorganization should not be perceived as a step-back from its enforcement activities. Rather, the reorganization of its field offices is intended to align the Enforcement Bureau structure and operations with the FCC’s priorities, including the elimination of radio frequency interference. However, some industry members have expressed concern that it may become more difficult to get the Commission’s attention in the event of an interference problem. For our clients, the danger is that the Bureau may seek to “magnify” the impact of its reduced enforcement capability by really clobbering those entities that are caught in a violation, especially smaller companies that are less likely to mount a serious legal challenge.

As part of the reorganization, the FCC is changing the qualifications for its field agents and realigning its offices. Of significance, all field agents will now be required to be electrical engineers. While the FCC will continue to operate offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Columbia, Maryland, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, it will be closing its offices in Anchorage, Buffalo, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Norfolk, Virginia, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Juan, Seattle and Tampa. In order to make up for these office closures, the FCC will rotate field agents through Anchorage, San Juan and Kansas City on a periodic basis. Finally, the FCC will also base rapid deployment or strike teams in Denver and Columbia, Maryland in order to supplement enforcement efforts at the remaining field offices as well as support high-priority enforcement actions.

FCC Seeks Comment on LMCC Proposed 800 MHz Interstitial Channel Interference Contours

The FCC is seeking comment on the Land Mobile Communications Council’s (LMCC’s) proposed 800 MHz Interstitial Channel Interference contours in connection with the Commission’s ongoing800 MHz rule making proceeding. Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
Essentially, LMCC has proposed interference contours that would apply when stations of various modulation types are operated on the interstitial channels (12.5 kHz spacing) adjacent to the “standard” 25 kHz spacing stations that are also operated with various modulation types. LMCC first made its proposal in 2010, but due to significant changes in equipment offerings over the past 5 years, determined that the interference criteria in its original proposal were no longer adequate.

Please contact us if you would like to review a copy of the LMCC proposal.

FCC Seeks Comment on Request for Waiver to Permit Equipment Certification for Sale of In-Vehicle Mobile Phone Signal Boosters

Kathrein Automotive GmbH & Ko. has filed a request for waiver of the FCC’s Consumer Signal Booster anti-oscillation and labeling requirements in order to permit the certification of in-vehicle, pre-installed Wideband Consumer Signal Boosters. The FCC’s rules currently require that Consumer Signal Boosters self-monitor and mitigate any unintended uplink and downlink oscillations. Alternatively, Kathrein requests that the FCC determine that its signal booster complies with the FCC’s Rules, through the use of protection measures that are equivalent to the Network Protection standard. Kathrein is also requesting a waiver of the labeling requirements for Consumer Signal Boosters – in particular, that the labeling be on the device packaging and on the device itself, since the device will be installed in vehicles by the vehicle manufacturer. Instead, Kathrein proposes that the vehicle manufacturers provide the necessary advisories to their customers at the time that a signal booster equipped vehicle is sold.

Comments in this proceeding are due August 10, 2015; Reply Comments are due August 20, 2015.

FCC Grants Waiver of 90.617 to Permit Assignment of License to Oakland County, Michigan

The FCC has granted a waiver of Rule Section 90.617 in order to permit the assignment of various 900 MHz frequencies in the Industrial/Business Pool by the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) to Oakland County, Michigan. A rule waiver was required because Oakland County, as a local government, is not eligible to hold this spectrum.

Pursuant to Rule Section 90.421, SMART authorized the County’s Road Commission to utilize some of SMART’s 900 MHz spectrum since the Road Commission was available to assist SMART in emergencies and so that both entities could communicate. In this regard, SMART arranged for the County’s Road Commission to install several hundred 900 MHz mobile data units in the Commission’s vehicles so that SMART could communicate with these vehicles, in order to determine the relevant road conditions.

Because SMART is migrating its operations away from the 900 MHz band, it has proposed to assign to the County those 900 MHz frequencies it is currently using, while deleting those channels that are not being used. In granting the rule waiver, the FCC noted that the County’s long-time use of the industrial 900 MHz channels was consistent with the FCC’s rules and that SMART’s action to delete those channels not used by the County would make that spectrum available to other industrial users.

Robo-Calls net Time Warner Cable a $229,500 Penalty for 153 Automated Calls to Customer’s Number

Yesterday, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted summary judgment against Time Warner Cable for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (the “TCPA”), which prohibits the placement of calls by an automated dialing machine without prior consent of the called party. The plaintiff, Ms. Araceli King, was awarded $229,500 – 153 violations at $1,500 per violation. The FCC has since clarified the TCPA rules to make it more clear that when a company is sloppy about calling a customer number that has been reassigned (or customer consent has been revoked), it will face steep penalties.

Time Warner argued that its system did not qualify as an automated dialer because it did not generate numbers, but rather compiled them from Time Warner’s customer base (specifically, customers who were behind on their bills). The court found, however, that since a human did not compile the list, and in fact no human involvement was identified at any stage in the process, the system is fully automated from start to finish and is therefore an automated dialer. “Whether it actually dialed King’s number randomly or from a list is irrelevant.”

Time Warner also argued that only calls that actually connected – in this case, around 70 – could possibly violate the TCPA. Here, the court ruled that the plain language of the statute makes it unlawful to make any call using an automated dialing system – whether the call is answered by a person, a machine, or not at all is irrelevant.

Finally, Time Warner argued that it placed the calls with the consent of the consumer. Specifically, Time Warner argued that (a) the plaintiff had consented through her agreement with the company and (b) it thought it was calling a Mr. Luiz Perez, whose consent it had also obtained. However, after a few months of calls, the plaintiff informed a Time Warner representative that she was not Mr. Perez, and asked the company to stop calling her. The court found that this constituted revocation of consent, and that all calls placed after the revocation (153) were violations of the TCPA.

The court found that treble damages were appropriate in this case because Time Warner Cable had full knowledge through its agent that the plaintiff had revoked consent. Plaintiff’s phone records corroborated her claim that she spoke to a representative, and Time Warner Cable was not able to refute it. Further, the court found that Time Warner Cable’s assertion that it lacked knowledge of non-consent “incredible” in light of the fact that the calls continued after it had been served with the instant suit. “Defendant harassed Plaintiff with robo-calls until she had to resort to a lawsuit to make the calls stop, and even then TWC could not be bothered to update the information in its IVR system. The calls placed after March 26, 2014 are particularly egregious violations of the TCPA and indicate that TWC simply did not take this lawsuit seriously. Treble damages are unquestionably appropriate to reflect the seriousness of TWC's willful violations.”

FCC Fines Mobile Relay Associates $25,000 for Causing Harmful Interference on Shared Channels

The FCC has issued a Notice of Apparent Liability against Mobile Relay Associates (MRA) for causing harmful interference to co-channel licensees. In particular, the FCC determined that MRA failed to (a) monitor before transmitting on shared frequencies and (b) take other precautions in order to avoid causing harmful interference to another licensed co-channel station. Following an inspection of MRA’s station, the FCC notified MRA of the monitoring requirement. However, it appears that MRA failed to modify the operation of its station in order to remedy the interference issue. As a result, the FCC has proposed a $25,000 fine.

In response to interference complaints, the FCC’s Los Angeles Office investigated the MRA station on several occasions and found that MRA was operating its station on nearly a continuous basis with a 96 to 97 percent and did not restrict its transmissions to the minimum time required. Additionally, the FCC noted that MRA did not operate the station in a trunked configuration even though the MRA license only authorized trunked operations.

In response to the FCC violation notice, MRA claimed that it was not operating on a continuous basis because it (a) had a large amount of radio traffic, (b) programmed its system to pause for 5 seconds once each 5 minutes and (c) programmed its system not to restart transmissions if another transmitter began to broadcast during that 5 second pause. MRA also asserted that it was compliant with the FCC’s Rules because the rules did not specify a time interval.

The FCC’s Rules clearly outline the obligations that licensees have to avoid causing harmful interference. These obligations are especially critical because the channels are shared. In particular, Rule Section 90.403 (e) requires licensees to take reasonable precautions to avoid causing harmful interference. This includes monitoring the frequency for communications that are in progress before transmitting, and other measures in order to prevent harmful interference to other licensed co-channel operations. Because most of the Part 90 private radio channels are shared, it is important to configure your system so that it does not cause harmful interference to other authorized users. This means that you should monitor, and also ensure that communications are kept to the minimum time required and that your stations do not monopolize the airwaves.

For those of our clients who operate non-centralized trunked systems on shared channels (station class FB6), it is important to note that the system must be configured so that it cannot transmit on a trunked frequency if a signal from another system is present on that channel. FB8 centralized trunking systems are exempt from monitoring.

Any client with questions regarding the appropriate configuration for their system should contact our office.

FCC Grants Waiver for Travelers Advisory Station

The FCC has granted Avon Grove Regional Emergency Management’s application to construct a new Travelers Advisory Station in Chester County, Pennsylvania. This grant is significant because the FCC waived its rules which restrict the height of the antenna to 15 meters and the field strength to 2.0 m V/m at a distance of 1.5 km from the transmitter site.

In requesting its waiver, Avon noted that the Travelers Advisory Station is dual purpose, since it is also designed to provide emergency information to the community in the event of a disruption in electrical service.

As part of its station design process, Avon Grove tested its antenna at various locations using the 15 meter antenna height, but found that the signal distortion from an adjacent antenna tower limited its ability to provide adequate coverage in all directions. Avon Grove provided engineer statements which demonstrated that it would not cause harmful interference to an adjacent channel AM broadcast station in Lindenwold, New Jersey. The FCC conditioned its grant upon the stipulation that Avon Grove may not cause any interference to an AM broadcast station and must accept any interference.

FCC Expands Opportunities for Experimentation and Market Trials

The FCC has updated its Experimental Radio Service (ERS) rules to provide licensees with additional flexibility to keep pace with technical changes. In particular, the Commission has added three new types of experimental licenses: (a) the program license, (b) the medical testing license and (c) the compliance testing license. Additionally, the FCC also modified its market trial rules in order to make its policies clearer.

The FCC has modified its rules in response to three petitions for reconsideration, as follows: (a) consistent with past practice, the FCC will permit conventional ERS licensees and compliance testing licensees to use frequency bands that are allocated for passive services under certain circumstances; (b) clarified that licensees may recover some costs from end users for the testing and operation of experimental medical devices during clinical medical trials under the FCC’s market trial rules and (c) added a new definition for “emergency notification providers” in order to clarify that all participants in the FCC’s Emergency Alert System (EAS) are emergency notification providers.

Passive Services

The Commission clarified that its intent in the underlying Report and Order was to continue the previous practice regarding conventional ERS licenses. The Commission stated that “[d]ue to the nature of the compliance testing process, we will not impose on them most of the limitations and reporting requirements that we are imposing on program licenses. Specifically, because compliance testing often involves emission measurements in restricted bands, compliance testing licensees will be exempt from the prohibition on operating in the restricted bands . . . and from operating in the bands allocated exclusively to the passive services.”

Medical Testing

Confusion exists because FDA and FCC cost recovery rules for medical trials differ. Generally, the FCC’s rules prohibit the operation and marketing of RF equipment before an equipment authorization is issued – except in limited circumstances, such as pursuant to an experimental license with “market study” authority. The restrictions on marketing are intended to prevent the distribution and sale of experimental devices in the general stream of commerce where devices may not be easily recalled by the manufacturer or distributor. The question became whether accepting FDA authorized reimbursements would fall under the FCC’s definition of marketing. While the FCC noted that it would, it also concluded that the market trial exception under Part 5 of the FCC’s Rules would apply. As a result, the FCC has clarified that medical device manufacturers may recover their costs to the extent permitted by the FCC’s Part 5 market trial rule.

EAS

The Commission has added a definition of “Emergency Notifications” to its rules and now clarifies that “all participants in the Emergency Alert System are emergency notification providers, and are therefore entitled to notification of program experiments that might affect them, as well as protection from harmful interference that such experiments might cause.” The underlying Report and Order specified that for program license experiments that might affect critical service bands (i.e., bands used for the provision of commercial mobile services, emergency notifications or public safety purposes), the program licensee would be required to take the additional step of developing a specific plan to avoid causing harmful interference.

Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making

The FCC has proposed to modify it program rules in order to permit experimentation on frequencies listed in Rule Section 15.205(a), provided that the device being tested is designed to comply with all applicable service Rules under Parts 18 – Industrial, Scientific and Medical Equipment; Part 95 – Personal Radio Services Subpart H – Wireless Medical Telemetry Service or Part 95 Subpart I – Medical Device Radio Communication Service. The FCC believes that the proposed changes will establish parity between all qualified medical device manufacturers when conducting clinical trials with RF based medical devices as it related to permissible frequencies.

Comments will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register; reply comments 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.

This newsletter is not intended to provide legal advice. Those interested in more information should contact the firm. For additional information, please contact Hal Mordkofsky at 202-828-5520 or halmor@bloostonlaw.com .

Friends & Colleagues


Ira Wiesenfeld, P.E.

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Consulting Alliance

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

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

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

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

From: Linda Hoover
Subject:  CMA-A Convention
Date: July 31, 2015
To: Brad Dye

November 5 & 6 Myrtle Beach, SC

Mark your calendars to join us and stay informed.

We are going back to the beach! Myrtle Beach that is, where CMA began to host its annual conventions.

A few years ago, CMA-A voted to alternate annual meetings between hosting in the U.S. and hosting overseas. We have been doing this and hope you will consider registering to attend our annual joint Convention with CMA-E at the Hilton Prague Old Town, September 30 - October 2, [....].

However, we recognize a trip to Prague, while incredibly valuable, may be unrealistic for a myriad of reasons for many of you. Therefore, we are excited to announce a “going back to our roots” opportunity for education and informal networking in Myrtle Beach, SC.

To make this event successful — we need two things:

  1. We need your ideas on key items that you would like to hear/discuss with one another. Our focus will be on small business issues and challenges.
  2. We need you to attend. We will keep costs minimal for travel, lodging and registration. More details will follow shortly on cost and specific hotel location.

In the meantime, please let Linda (linda@criticalmessagingassociation.org) know if you plan to attend and most importantly, what would make this a valuable experience for you.


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The Wireless Messaging News
 

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Brad Dye
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THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK

“America's present need is not heroics but healing; not nostrums but normalcy; not revolution but restoration.”

— Warren G. Harding


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

After five decades, Cuba and the U.S. restored diplomatic ties
A large crowd of people gather to watch the Cuban flag being raised outside the Cuban embassy in Washington on July 20, 2015.
Jim Lo Scalzo—EPA
Source: TIME Photo


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