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Dear Friends of Wireless Messaging,
Welcome back to The Wireless Messaging News.
FCC Proposes New Rules for Emergency Alert Systems, Requests
Friday, January 29, 2016
The FCC proposed rules to strengthen the emergency alert system (EAS), the national public warning system. The proposals are intended to improve EAS by facilitating involvement on the state and local levels, supporting greater testing and awareness of the system, leveraging technological advances and enhancing EAS security, the commission said.
The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), aimed at promoting community preparedness and ensuring that the public receives the most effective alerts during emergencies, includes proposals to do the following:
The NPRM also seeks comment on issues including:
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What We Expect
The iPhone 7 won't be released until the fall of 2016, so it's still several months off. Apple's current flagship devices are the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus , released to the public in September of 2015. Though we have months to go until the iPhone 7 launches, rumors have already been trickling out, giving us some details on what we might see when the device is released.
Apple has used an alternating “S” naming formula to mark years where the iPhone does not receive a major redesign since the debut of the iPhone 3GS in 2009. Releases have been as follows:
2007 - iPhone
The next-generation iPhone is expected to be called the iPhone 7 . 2015 marked an "S" iPhone upgrade year that introduced new features such as an improved camera and a better processor, but 2016 will bring an even-year upgrade that will likely include an all-new iPhone design .
Apple is said to be working on finalizing the iPhone 7 design so we don't know exactly what it will look like, but a reliable source tells MacRumors that it continue to use a design similar to the design of the iPhone 6s, but without a rear protruding camera and with no antenna bands across the back of the device. Antenna bands are expected to remain at the top, bottom, and sides of the iPhone.
Mockup of iPhone 7 case showing flush rear camera and no antenna bands across rear.
The iPhone 7's body could also be made out of a new composite material that improves the water resistance of the device.
Internal specs aren't yet known, but we can speculate that Apple will continue on its path of introducing more powerful, efficient devices that grow thinner with each design iteration. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are expected to include next-generation A10 processors produced by TSMC.
It's likely Apple will continue releasing two versions of each iPhone, so we will see an iPhone 7 and an iPhone 7 Plus in 2016. Apple is said to be planning to stick to the 4.7- and 5.5-inch screen sizes it first introduced with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are expected to feature the same 3D Touch feature introduced with the iPhone 6s.
Apple is rumored to be aiming to make the iPhone 7 as thin as the 6.1mm iPod touch , mainly through the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack . Eliminating the headphone jack will give Apple more internal space for other components, and Apple will also keep the device slim with the continued use of in-cell panels and TFT-LCD display technology.
With no headphone jack, wired headphones will connect to the iPhone 7 using its Lightning port and Bluetooth headphones will connect wirelessly. Apple is rumored to be working on Lightning-equipped EarPods to sell alongside the device.
There may be some distinguishing features between the iPhone 7 and the larger-screened iPhone 7 Plus. The iPhone 7 may ship with 2GB RAM, while the iPhone 7 Plus includes 3GB RAM, and the larger-screened iPhone may also include better camera. According to rumors, the iPhone 7 Plus may be available with a dual-lens camera system that offers DSLR-like image quality with 2-3x optical zoom and improved performance in low lighting conditions.
We still have a long wait until the launch of the iPhone 7, but the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus launched in September of 2015. Check out our full roundup on those devices for more information on Apple's latest iPhones.
No Headphone Jack
Apple may be able to decrease the thickness of the iPhone 7 by up to 1mm by eliminating the headphone jack and instead adopting an all-in-one Lightning connector. Several rumors have suggested Apple plans to nix the headphone jack and instead introduce a Lightning port that will support both charging and music playback with Lightning-equipped headphones.
With the iPhone 7, headphones will need a Lightning connector or a 3.5mm jack-to-Lightning adapter to connect to the Lightning port on the bottom of the phone. The device will also support wireless Bluetooth headphones.
In addition to allowing Apple to shave some thickness off of the iPhone 7 and saving valuable internal space, requiring headphones to connect through the Lightning port will boost overall audio quality. Apple is also rumored to be introducing some new noise-canceling technology to remove background noise during music playback and phone calls.
Apple is said to be working on Lightning-equipped EarPods that will ship alongside the iPhone 7. They will be similar to the existing EarPods that are included in the iPhone box, with a Lightning connector instead of a headphone jack.
Along with Lightning-equipped EarPods that will be made available with the iPhone 7, Apple is rumored to be working on a new set of wireless Bluetooth earphones that would be sold alongside the iPhone 7 as a premium accessory and alternative to the EarPods.
While traditional Bluetooth headphones have a wire that connects the left and right ear pieces to each other, Apple is said to be designing earphones that do not include a connective cord between the ear pieces. These earphones would be similar in design to the Bragi Dash, an upcoming set of earphones that features individual ear pieces for each ear.
The wireless earphones, which have a battery life of approximately four hours due to the separate chips and batteries in each one, will reportedly charge through an included carrying case that also serves as a rechargeable battery to extend battery life as much as possible.
The iPhone 7 is expected to be thinner than the iPhone 6s, with Apple using the elimination of the headphone jack and advances in in-cell panel technology to make the iPhone 7 slimmer, perhaps as thin as the iPod touch. Rumors suggest the iPhone 7 will be between 6.0mm and 6.5mm. Apple's current iPod touch measures in at 6.1mm, compared to 6.9mm for the iPhone 6 and 7.1mm for the iPhone 6 Plus.
Information obtained by MacRumors indicates the iPhone 7's design will be somewhat similar to the iPhone 6s , adopting the same general design language. The iPhone 7 and the 7 Plus are expected to feature a revamped camera that is flush with the body of the device, doing away with the protruding camera of the iPhone 6 and 6s.
A mockup of what the iPhone 7 may look like. It is said to have a design similar to the iPhone 6s, with a slightly thinner body and no antenna bands across the middle of device's rear shell.
Apple may also be planning to change the design of the antenna bands on the device, doing away with the thick white antenna bands that are located across the back of the Phone 6s rear shell. The bands located at the top, bottom, and sides of the device are rumored to remain on the iPhone 7.
The new body, with a thinner design and no headphone jack, may be able to withstand both dust and water, making it better able to hold up when exposed to the elements. If Apple does make the iPhone 7 more water resistant, it is not clear if the company would do so quietly or introduce the water resistance as a main selling feature.
Apple is rumored to be working on AMOLED displays for future iPhones, but the technology will not be ready for the iPhone 7. The iPhone 7 will continue to use the same TFT-LCD display technology used in the iPhone 6s.
iPhone 7 vs. iPhone 7 Plus
With the release of the larger-screened iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple differentiated between the two devices by including Optical Image Stabilization in the iPhone 6 Plus for improved photo and video capturing abilities. The iPhone 6s Plus continued to offer Optical Image Stabilization while the iPhone 6s did not, and it appears the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus could also see different features.
Apple is said to be working on a version of the iPhone 7 Plus with a 12-megapixel dual-lens camera system that takes advantage of technology Apple acquired through the purchase of Israeli camera company LinX Imaging last year. Image quality in the iPhone 7 Plus could be greatly improved with the introduction of a dual-lens system, narrowing the gap between photos taken with the iPhone and those taken with a more robust DSLR cameras.
LinX technology offers several potential benefits for the iPhone 7 Plus, with the rumor specifically pointing towards 2-3x optical zoom capabilities, perhaps implemented through the use of two lenses with different focal lengths. With a dual-lens camera system, images captured are clearer and brighter with less noise and truer color, allowing for pictures that include more detail, especially in low light conditions.
There's a possibility that a dual-lens system like the one LinX created could be used for depth mapping, allowing users to do things like take 3D scans of real world items or use depth information to refocus an image. For additional information on what LinX technology could mean for the iPhone 7, make sure to check out our in-depth LinX post.
Implementing LinX's camera system in the iPhone 7 Plus would potentially allow Apple to cut down on the size of the camera module, doing away with the protruding rear camera lens.
Curiously, the camera rumor, which comes from rather reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, says that Apple could potentially release two variants of the iPhone 7 Plus — one with a dual-lens system and one with a traditional single-lens camera. The reasoning behind this is said to be manufacturing constraints, but we do not believe Apple will release two iPhone 7 Plus models. Instead, it's possible the company is testing two separate variants of the device.
Rumors have also suggested Apple is testing multiple dual-lens systems from several camera makers in Japan, China, and Taiwan, and Sony, an Apple supplier, has said several smartphone manufacturers will adopt its dual-lens technology in the near future.
As for the camera in the iPhone 7, there's no word on what improvements may be introduced. If the iPhone 7 Plus is set to see major gains in image quality, it stands to reason the iPhone 7 will also see significant improvement, even if it is implemented outside of a dual-lens system.
According to another prediction from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus may have differing amounts of RAM. The smaller 4.7-inch iPhone 7 may ship with 2GB of RAM, while the larger 5.5-inch iPhone 7 may ship with 3GB RAM.
Storage space may also be a differentiating factor between the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. An unconfirmed rumor suggests the larger iPhone 7 Plus could include a high-end 256GB storage option that would not be available with the iPhone 7. 256GB is a capacity that is not offered in any of Apple's current iOS devices, so it is questionable as to whether Apple would introduce such a high-capacity iPhone. The rumor did not include a mention of other storage tiers that would be available for the two devices.
With the Lightning port being used for music playback, there will be no way to charge the iPhone 7 while headphones are plugged in, which has sparked some speculation about wireless charging. According to one rumor, Apple is exploring wireless charging technology that could potentially be included in the iPhone 7.
While Apple is said to be looking into wireless charging for the iPhone 7, there is no guarantee the feature will make it into the finished product. It is also not clear what method Apple would use to implement wireless charging.
Our first look at a component that might be destined for the iPhone 7 came in January of 2016, with the leak of some photos that depict a possible iPhone 7 backlight assembly.
We can't really glean any information about the iPhone 7 from the backlight component, but it is similar in design to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus backlight assembly with the exception of relocated LCD flex cables and 3D Touch chip. Though the backlight assembly doesn't give us any information about the iPhone 7, it suggests that components are now in production and additional part leaks will follow.
Beyond the iPhone 7
The iPhone 7 hasn't launched yet, but we're already hearing rumors about iPhones that will be released in 2018 and beyond. Apple is said to be working on flexible OLED displays for future versions of the iPhone, at a secret lab it's opened in Taiwan. Apple is also developing more advanced versions of liquid crystal displays, working on a technology called Micro-LED.
Apple is also pursuing an OLED partnership with LG Display and Samsung, and is said to be close to a deal. Under the terms of the deal, LG Display and Samsung would both provide Apple with OLED displays for future devices. Japan Display is also hoping to secure a deal with Apple and has announced its own plans to begin developing OLED displays . Rumors also suggest Apple may also be planning to invest in AMOLED supplier AU Optronics as a source of displays for future iPhones, indicating Apple is pursuing multiple options for next-generation display technology.
Both OLED and Micro-LED technologies eliminate the need for the back lighting that's used in traditional LCDs, which would potentially allow Apple to cut down on the size of its iOS devices. Micro-LED suffers from low yields and OLED has a shorter life span, so they are both technologies that are not quite ready for near-future iPhone upgrades.
Apple is said to be developing a next-generation version of 3D Touch, which would scale up for use in larger devices like the iPad Pro. Other benefits are not yet known.
In the future, Apple could introduce an iPhone without a home button, instead integrating Touch ID fingerprint recognition into the display of the device. Apple is working on developing touch and display driver integration (TTDI) chips, but it is not clear when that technology will be ready for use in an iPhone.
Apple is also rumored to be working on long-range wireless charging technology that could be implemented in phones as soon as 2017. Long-range wireless charging is superior to many existing wireless charging methods because it does not require devices to be as close to a charging source or mat.
There are some obstacles to overcome before such technology can be implemented, such as the loss of power transfer efficiency that occurs when the distance between the transmitter and the receiver is increased. This causes batteries further away from a charging source to charge more slowly.
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Where to go During a Communications Shutdown
Local radio amateur group volunteers can help maintain communications until the normal operations resume.
Ken Reid | February 3, 2016
If you’ve been in meetings and exercises that simulate a total communications loss, you’ve likely wondered what you would do in the event of a catastrophic failure that takes down cellular, Internet, power, and even your own systems.
Haiti, Jan. 12, 2010. Within a few days after the quake, a team of amateur radio operators from WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center was called upon to serve as the main source of medical communications. Over the next five weeks, the team manned a 24-hour net connecting Haiti field hospitals, the University of Miami Medical Center and the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort, relaying on-the-spot medical advice from stateside doctors, relaying medical supplies, charter airplane flight schedules and helping coordinate emergency helicopter and fast boat evacuations.
In Joplin, Mo., May 22, 2011. The hospital, two local fire stations and the town took a direct hit by an F5 tornado. All normal communications were down for weeks. Regional amateur radio operators were called in to help establish communications.
Fortunately, in these scenarios, there have been established relationships between government agencies and groups of volunteer amateur radio operators who were on call, up to speed and equipped to help.
There have also been multiple examples nationwide of 911 centers losing radio communications with police, fire and ambulance because of accidental cable-cutting, cyber-cutting, or simple equipment failure. Local radio amateur group volunteers are called upon to help maintain communications until the normal operations resume.
Your Plan B: Amateur Radio Support
What are your plans for emergency backup communications in the event of a serious failure, or if you need to communicate outside of your normal working range? Think no cell, no Internet service, no power, or the need to set up communications in a remote area.
Georgia’s emergency management community is tackling this challenge in partnership with the American Radio Relay League’s (ARRL) nationwide Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) network: Here in Atlanta (and in counties around the state), groups of skilled volunteer radio operators are trained to respond to requests for backup support from local, state and federal agencies.
In my first year serving as Atlanta ARES emergency coordinator, we’ve made strides to ensure readiness. Our priorities are having a corps of volunteers who are well oriented and trained; building working relationships with emergency management agencies; ensuring that systems, technologies and protocols are in place; and participating in joint planning and drilling exercises.
Today, Atlanta ARES has a home base at the Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency, which dedicated space in its EOP for a permanent radio room and multiple rooftop antennas. Amateurs also operate from a radio room at the state operations center of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.
In coordination with the Georgia Department of Public Health, radio amateurs man an all-volunteer network operating from 30 amateur-radio-equipped hospitals around the state. This includes the 16 regional coordinating hospitals that train monthly to ensure effective back-up communications in the event of an emergency or disaster.
The Atlanta ARES team also participates in regional, multi-agency tabletop exercises several times a year, and runs amateur radio net control operations for major civic events, including the annual Peachtree Road Race and Atlanta Marathon.
Amateur Radio, in Brief
Here in Georgia, ARES members are required to complete FEMA 100-, 200-, 700- and 800-level classwork, so they can understand how to work within the Incident Command System. To align with served agency needs, members are also working to become fluent in three digital communication formats that enable us to send and receive text, email and ICS-213 forms. We use specially developed software, such as Fldigi, and support amateur communications formats like Winlink, and D-RATS. Our Atlanta ARES group practices digital and voice operations weekly.
VHF radios are similar to public service radios and are used for local line-of-sight talk up to 5 miles, and up to 25 miles with the use of a repeater. Most radio operators have an HT (portable 5 watts) and many have a mobile radio with up to 70 watts. Data can be sent over VHF with the use of a computer and relatively low-cost interface unit.
D-STAR (Digital Smart Technologies for Amateur Radio) is the digital counterpart to VHF, incorporating digital voice and data. It has both HTs and mobile units that usually incorporate VHF analog. A computer is still needed to send digital data. Other digital radio standards are available: D-STAR is our preference, due to state- and region-wide adoption and support from GEMA.
HF (high frequency) is for talking throughout the state, regionally, and beyond. Data can be sent over HF with an interface and a computer. HF is propagation-dependent, so the signal will not be easily heard in some conditions. Also, because HF signals bounce off the ionosphere, a relay may be needed when direct communication to the intended station is not possible. For example, a message sent from Atlanta may need to be relayed through a Chicago station to be heard in Miami, and we can do this.
Unlike public service encrypted radios, amateur radio by FCC regulation may not use encryption of any kind. Anyone with a radio that can tune to the frequency being used can hear the voice part of the transmission. Digital amateur radios can only be decoded by other radios equipped to receive digital transmissions.
How to Engage With Us
You’ll find local amateur radio groups eager to connect and explore how they can help. Learn more about ARRL’s ARES group and how to contact your local emergency coordinator at arrl.org/ares. Contact your local radio club and ask if they have an ARES group and, if not, ask if they’d be willing to set one up. And rest assured that we know our role is supportive only:
Amateur radio operators will be stopped and turned away at building access points and on the road to emergencies, unless your security personnel have also been trained to recognize their identification and let them through. If you have requirements like background checks and TB tests for in-hospital sites, work with your local ARES group to get them handled. They’ll also need access to work with any installed gear to keep it operational and to keep their skills with that gear sharp.
ARES volunteers will go where they are needed with the gear they own, and do their best, but they may be limited by your systems. The essential first step is for your agency to install an outside permanent antenna. A robust VHF or wire HF antenna costs around $100 (plus the cost of coax cable), and goes a long way toward ensuring a reliable signal. A second step, which I’d urge you to consider, is investing in a fully operational radio station, which is a relatively small investment: you can set up a full HF and VHF radio station for about the same cost as two public service handheld transmitters.
If you believe there’s a possibility that you could have a total communications system failure, or be called upon to assist a fellow agency in need, consider bringing an amateur radio team on board. You’ll then have a group of easily integrated radio operators ready to support you.
Ken Reid is the ARES emergency coordinator, Atlanta; Net Manager of the Georgia Hospital HF Net; president of the Atlanta Radio Club; and a GEMA Certified Emergency Manager.
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Wear Weekly: 2016 The Year of the Dick Tracy Watch?
February 5, 2016 - Written By Tom Dawson
For roughly two years now, Android Wear watches have been on shelves and available to purchase online, while the platform is still struggling to achieve mainstream appeal, Google made an important announcement this week. Phone calls are finally coming to Android Wear. Took long enough, didn’t it? Devices that already have a speaker will be getting updates to Android Wear to wake them up and enable them to take calls from their wrists. Right now, that includes just the larger version of the ASUS ZenWatch 2 and the Huawei Watch, which we knew had a speaker a long, long time ago. So, that begs the question of whether or not 2016 is going to be the year of the Dick Tracy watch?
Famous for calling base from his wrist, Dick Tracy has become known as the benchmark for “cool” smartwatches and there are many of them that already meet this benchmark. They’re not running Android though, and in fact are from Samsung. The Gear line of wearables launched way back in 2013 with the original Galaxy Gear, and it featured the ability to take and make calls directly on the watch itself. Admittedly, these calls weren’t always clear when outdoors and the speaker was pretty quiet itself, but it was a nice feature to have and one that Samsung’s wearables have become known for. Their latest, the Gear S2, even works with AT&T’s customers already-existing number without being tethered to the phone. Now, Android Wear is finally joining the party, and that means that the majority of users will become aware that smartwatches will finally be able to offer that little bit more than they do now.
Google have essentially opened the flood-gates for a whole raft of new Android Wear models with their announcement. Will LG, Motorola and co. be happy to let ASUS and Huawei have all the fun with their wrist-mounted phone calls? It’s unlikely, and while yearly-releases seem to have become a “thing” where smartwatches are concerned anyway, it looks like 2016’s watches will be a little more exciting than the releases of 2015. It’s not just the whole taking call things either, Google’s announcement opens the door for more features to head to our wrists as well, and as recent surveys and analyst reports have shown, people expect more from their smartwatches.
A Marshmallow update is just around the corner for Android Wear, and there are more gestures coming along with it. This year is going to be the year that we see not just Samsung smartwatches with speakers, but pretty much everyone else, too. LG’s Watch Urbane is due for an upgrade (if we’re going by that yearly release schedule) so too is the Moto 360 and Sony’s SmartWatch 3 is older than most others out there. Whether or not the choice to embrace a speaker was one that Google fought off for a long time is unclear, but it’s good to see Android Wear is set to become more useful this year, and we hope there are more features besides taking calls coming to Android Wear this year.
BlackBerry announces Canadian data centre for AtHoc emergency communications platform
FEBRUARY 3, 2016 BY TERRY DAWES
A networked crisis communications platform called AtHoc, acquired by BlackBerry Limited (NASDAQ: BBRY; TSX: BB) in September 2015, is now generally available to global customers concerned about regulatory developments over data sovereignty, hosted from its Canadian data centre.
The AtHoc platform allows people, devices and organizations to exchange real-time crisis communications, focusing on emergency management, workplace security, and communication protocols around weather or violence related events, while also addressing concerns about local data privacy regulations during those communications.
The platform does this by communicating with a diverse set of endpoints, including mobile devices, desktop computers, digital displays, radios, IP phones, siren systems, fire panels and loudspeakers to facilitate situational awareness during an emergency.
Several new Canadian and global customers have already committed to be hosted on the new service.
The Canadian offering is supplemented by a European disaster recovery data centre, although BlackBerry plans to deliver wholly hosted cloud services based in Europe, with both primary and disaster recovery sites located there, early in 2016.
In October 2015, the European Court of Justice struck down the 15-year-old trans-Atlantic “Safe Harbor” pact, which had been used by about 4,500 companies including Apple and Google, on the grounds that it violated privacy rights of European citizens and exposed them to U.S. government surveillance.
So the establishment of Canadian and European data centres are major selling points for government organizations and companies dealing in sensitive data.
“This is an important step forward in our mission to extend the AtHoc software platform globally, enabling us to build crisis communications networks in the cloud for customers around the world,” said Aviv Siegel, VP Technology, AtHoc, Division of BlackBerry. “Now we can provide Canadian customers, as well as international customers, state-of-the-art crisis communication capability while helping them address local privacy concerns and regulations.”
Just yesterday, the European Commission and United States agreed a new framework to replace the old Safe Harbor pact, which ought to come into effect in the near future pending ratification.
Headquartered in Silicon Valley, AtHoc is the leading provider of networked crisis communications services to the U.S. Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.
AtHoc was recently selected by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, a component agency of the DHS, to provide crisis communications to all TSA staff across more than 200 airports.
In mid-January, AtHoc was awarded a multi-year $20 million U.S. contract by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Homeland Security highlights Super Bowl 50 security
Posted: Thu 9:02 AM, Feb 04, 2016
San Francisco, CA — On Wednesday Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson met with local law enforcement officials and the National Football League (NFL) security team to oversee the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) security operations that will help ensure the safety and security of employees, players and fans during Super Bowl 50.
“Dozens of federal agencies and components, including multiple components of the Department of Homeland Security, are contributing to security measures seen and unseen in connection with the Super Bowl,” said Secretary Johnson. “Within the Department of Homeland Security itself, TSA, CBP, ICE, Coast Guard, the Secret Service, FEMA, our Intelligence and Analysis Directorate, and our National Protection and Programs Directorate are contributing to the security of this event. The public has a role to play too. “If You See Something, Say Something™” is more than a slogan. Public vigilance and public awareness contributes to a safe and secure event.”
More than 15 million fans and visitors in and around the San Francisco area will see the “If You See Something, Say Something™” message at airports, on bus and rail systems, billboards, magazines and visitor guides. Last year, for the first time ever, individuals using their smart phones to play games using the Game Day and NFL Experience mobile applications might have seen campaign messaging throughout Super Bowl Weekend. This year, fans will also see messaging that highlights the individual role of everyday citizens to protect their neighbors and the communities they call home, by recognizing and reporting suspicious activity when using mobile applications.
The “If You See Something, Say Something™” public awareness campaign is just one part of the support DHS is providing for the Super Bowl. Hundreds of employees from DHS, and assets from across the Department, will support our state and local partners charged with securing this event.
DHS Operations — Super Bowl 50
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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.
FCC Decision to Reduce High Cost Support for Rural Carriers May be Near
Two recent ex parte letters filed in WC Docket No. 10-90 by NTCA and USTelecom, for meetings that occurred on January 27 and 29, 2016, suggest that the FCC may be getting close to adopting high cost universal service reforms for rural carriers that would include 1) lowering the rate of return; 2) eliminating support for carriers with an unsubsidized competitor covering significantly less than 100% of the ILEC study area; 3) imposing broadband buildout requirements without providing additional support; and 4) further capping or eliminating certain operating expenses. Carriers that would be adversely impacted by reforms such as these should consider providing company-specific information on the record stating why the proposals should not be adopted to ensure that the record exists to challenge any harmful proposals adopted by the FCC.
ILECs Should Consider Bundling Service after Equal Access Forbearance
As previously reported, the FCC granted forbearance to ILECs from the requirement to provide inter-exchange equal access and dialing parity pursuant to Sections 251(b)(3) and 251(g) of the Act, effective December 28, 2015, except for customers who presubscribe to third-party long distance services as of that date. This means that ILECs can choose to end the provision of equal access for customers who did not presubscribe to third-party long distance services as of December 28, 2016, and, instead, provide a bundled local and long distance service. For ILECs that choose to end the provision of inter-exchange equal access, new customer service protocols and changes to existing white page publications, company websites and tariffs and price sheets, may be necessary to reflect the change.
If you seek to end the provision of equal access or if you wish to seek further forbearance, please contact the firm.
FCC To Strengthen Emergency Alert System
On January 28, the FCC proposed rules to strengthen the Emergency Alert System (EAS) by “facilitating involvement on the state and local levels, supporting greater testing and awareness of the system, leveraging technological advances, and enhancing EAS security.”
According to a news release issued by the FCC, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) includes proposals to:
The NPRM also seeks comment on a number of issues, including:
The comment and reply comment deadlines for the NPRM will be established when it is published in the Federal Register.
FCC Releases 2016 Broadband Progress Report, Finds Broadband Not Timely Deployed
On January 29, the FCC released the 2016 Broadband Progress Report, which it issues annually pursuant to section 706 of the Telecommunications Act to determine whether “advanced telecommunications capability” is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion. According to the Report, it is not.
Specifically, the FCC found that:
The FCC also found that the availability of advanced telecommunications requires access to both fixed and mobile services.
The FCC retained its existing speed benchmark of 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload (25 Mbps/3 Mbps) for fixed services, but found that the current record is insufficient to set an appropriate speed benchmark for mobile service. However, since no fixed satellite broadband service meets the 25 Mbps/3Mbps speed threshold as of the reporting period, the FCC chose not to address the question of whether fixed satellite broadband services meeting this speed threshold would be considered to provide advanced telecommunications capability.
Finally, the FCC noted that small businesses tend to subscribe to mass market broadband service and that, as a result, “the rural-urban disparity in deployment of these broadband services also disproportionately impacts the ability of small businesses operating in rural areas to successfully compete in the 21st century economy.”
A copy of the full report can be obtained by clicking here.
FCC Grants STA to Qualcomm to Conduct Field Testing of LTE-U Devices
The FCC Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) last Friday granted approval for Verizon and Qualcomm to conduct limited testing of LTE devices that are designed to operate in unlicensed spectrum bands (LTE-U).
LTE-U is a technology that was developed by Qualcomm to enable the use of 4G LTE in unlicensed bands, such as the 5 GHz band used by dual-band Wi-Fi equipment. Proponents believe the technology could supplement commercial wireless service providers’ licensed spectrum and serve as an alternative to carrier-owned Wi-Fi hotspots.
However, unlicensed spectrum advocates such as Google have argued that LTE-U could monopolize the limited shared-use spectrum that is available or otherwise create harmful interference with Wi-Fi devices and unlicensed users. The FCC grant of STA will allow Qualcomm to perform small scale performance evaluation tests of LTE-U equipment at two Verizon sites in Oklahoma City, OK and Raleigh, NC, is subject to the condition that no harmful interference is caused.
"The Wi-Fi Alliance, working together with advocates of LTE-U, is developing a test plan to evaluate the co-existence of LTE-U with Wi-Fi and other devices operating in the unlicensed spectrum. A draft of the plan is expected to be released early next month," wrote OET chief Julius Knapp in the FCC Blog. "Qualcomm and Verizon have agreed to participate in subsequent laboratory and real world co-existence testing of LTE-U."
Commercial wireless operators applauded the FCC’s move. “We’re pleased the FCC supports the testing of new LTE services and products that benefit consumers," said a representative of wireless trade association CTIA. "Fostering innovation in unlicensed bands is key to meeting consumer demand and maintaining our position as global leader in mobile broadband.”
A number of steps remain before LTE-U systems can be commercially deployed and the FCC has said it will closely monitor industry progress toward resolution of the spectrum sharing concerns. The parties have agreed to share the results of their tests with the FCC. Assuming tests show that LTE-U devices can coexist with other users in the unlicensed bands, LTE-U devices will still require equipment authorization by the FCC Laboratory to ensure compliance with Part 15 rules before they can be marketed in the United States.
Law & Regulation
FCC Expands Online Public File Requirement, Moves Cable, Radio, and Satellite Files Online
On January 28, the FCC adopted rules to require cable operators, satellite television (DBS) providers, and broadcast radio and satellite radio licensees to post their public and political files to the FCC’s online public inspection file database. These rules were originally applied to broadcasters in 2012, and are now being extended to other entities.
Specifically, the rules adopted:
The public file database is available at https://stations.fcc.gov/
Comment Deadline Established for Primary/Secondary Channel Sharing NPRM
On February 1, the summary of the FCC’s Third Report and Order and Fourth Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, seeking comment on additional issues related to channel sharing between primary (full power and Class A) and secondary (low power television and television translator) stations as well as between secondary stations, was published in the Federal Register. As a result, comments are due February 22 and reply comments are due March 3.
In the NPRM, which was released on December 17, 2015, the FCC tentatively concluded to allow channel sharing between primary and secondary stations and proposed rules for primary-secondary sharing that are consistent with (i) those sharing rules adopted for secondary-secondary sharing in the accompanying Third Report and Order and (ii) those sharing rules proposed for primary-primary sharing outside of the auction context in the separate Primary-Primary Channel Sharing NPRM. Finally, the FCC sought comment on issues pertaining to the term length of channel sharing agreements and issues pertaining to multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD) carriage, reimbursement, and notice.
FCC Issues Tentative Agenda for February Open Meeting
On January 28, the FCC announced that the following items are tentatively on the agenda for the February Open Commission Meeting, currently scheduled for Thursday, February 18:
The Open Meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m., and will be webcast live at www.fcc.gov/live.
FCC to Hold Workshop on Tower Climber Safety
On February 11, the FCC will hold a workshop on tower climber safety and the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP). The workshop will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and will be webcast live at www.fcc.gov/live at that time. Viewers may submit questions during the workshop via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter using the “#FCClive” hashtag.
The workshop will consist of three panel discussions:
The workshop is free and open to the public, and no pre-registration is required.
MARCH 1: COPYRIGHT STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT FORM FOR CABLE COMPANIES. This form, plus royalty payment for the second half of calendar year 2015, is due March 1. The form covers the period July 1 to December 31, 2015, and is due to be mailed directly to cable TV operators by the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office. If you do not receive the form, please contact Gerry Duffy.
MARCH 1: CPNI ANNUAL CERTIFICATION. Carriers should modify (as necessary) and complete their “Annual Certification of CPNI Compliance” for 2016. The certification must be filed with the FCC by March 1. Note that the annual certification should include the following three required Exhibits: (a) a detailed Statement Explaining How the Company’s Operating Procedures Ensure Compliance with the FCC’S CPNI Rules to reflect the Company’s policies and information; (b) a Statement of Actions Taken against Data Brokers; and (c) a Summary of Customer Complaints Regarding Unauthorized Release of CPNI. A company officer with personal knowledge that the company has established operating procedures adequate to ensure compliance with the rules must execute the Certification, place a copy of the Certification and accompanying Exhibits in the Company’s CPNI Compliance Records, and file the certification with the FCC in the correct fashion. Our clients can forward the original to BloostonLaw in time for the firm to make the filing with the FCC by March 1, if desired. BloostonLaw is prepared to help our clients meet this requirement, which we expect will be strictly enforced, by assisting with preparation of their certification filing; reviewing the filing to make sure that the required showings are made; filing the certification with the FCC, and obtaining a proof-of-filing copy for your records. Clients interested in obtaining BloostonLaw's CPNI compliance manual should contact Gerry Duffy (202-828-5528) or Mary Sisak (202-828-5554). Note: If you file the CPNI certification, you must also file the FCC Form 499-A Telecom Reporting Worksheet by April 1.
MARCH 1: FCC FORM 477, LOCAL COMPETITION & BROADBAND REPORTING FORM. This annual form is due March 1 and September 1 annually. The FCC requires facilities-based wired, terrestrial fixed wireless, and satellite broadband service providers to report on FCC Form 477 the number of broadband subscribers they have in each census tract they serve. The Census Bureau changed the boundaries of some census tracts as part of the 2010 Census.
Specifically, three types of entities must file this form:
MARCH 31: INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT CAPACITY REPORT. No later than March 31, all U.S. international carriers that owned or leased bare capacity on a submarine cable between the United States and any foreign point on December 31, 2015 and any person or entity that held a submarine cable landing license on December 31, 2015 must file a Circuit Capacity Report to provide information about the submarine cable capacity it holds. Additionally, cable landing licensees must file information on the Circuit Capacity Report about the amount of available and planned capacity on the submarine cable for which they have a license. Any U.S. International Carrier that owned or leased bare capacity on a terrestrial or satellite facility as of December 31, 2015 must file a Circuit Capacity Report showing its active common carrier circuits for the provision of service to an end-user or resale carrier, including active circuits used by itself or its affiliates. Any satellite licensee that is not a U.S. International Carrier and that owns circuits between the United States and any foreign point as of December 31, 2015 of the reporting period must file a Circuit Capacity Report showing its active circuits sold or leased to any customer, including itself or its affiliates, other than a carrier authorized by the FCC to provide U.S. international common carrier services.
APRIL 1: FCC FORM 499-A, TELECOMMUNICATIONS REPORTING WORKSHEET. This form must be filed by all contributors to the Universal Service Fund (USF) sup-port mechanisms, the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund, the cost recovery mechanism for the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), and the shared costs of local number portability (LNP). Contributors include every telecommunications carrier that provides interstate, intrastate, and international telecommunications, and certain other entities that provide interstate telecommunications for a fee. Even common carriers that qualify for the de minimis exemption must file Form 499-A. Entities whose universal service contributions will be less than $10,000 qualify for the de minimis exemption. De minimis entities do not have to file the quarterly report (FCC Form 499-Q), which was due February 1, and will again be due May 1. Form 499-Q relates to universal and LNP mechanisms. Form 499-A relates to all of these mechanisms and, hence, applies to all providers of interstate, intrastate, and international telecommunications services. Form 499-A contains revenue information for January 1 through December 31 of the prior calendar year. And Form 499-Q contains revenue information from the prior quarter plus projections for the next quarter. (Note: the revised 499-A and 499-Q forms are now available.) Block 2-B of the Form 499-A requires each carrier to designate an agent in the District of Columbia upon whom all notices, process, orders, and decisions by the FCC may be served on behalf of that carrier in proceedings before the FCC. Carriers receiving this newsletter may specify our law firm as their D.C. agent for service of process using the information in our masthead. There is no charge for this service.
APRIL 1: ANNUAL ACCESS TO ADVANCED SERVICES CERTIFICATION. All providers of telecommunications services and telecommunications carriers subject to Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act are required to file with the FCC an annual certification that (1) states the company has procedures in place to meet the recordkeeping requirements of Part 14 of the Rules; (2) states that the company has in fact kept records for the previous calendar year; (3) contains contact information for the individual or individuals handling customer complaints under Part 14; (4) contains contact information for the company’s designated agent; and (5) is supported by an affidavit or declaration under penalty of perjury signed by an officer of the company.
|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 email@example.com .|
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|THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK|
“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”
—Dwight D. Eisenhower
|PHOTO OF THE WEEK|
|Source:||the guardian||Photograph: Felipe Dana/AP|
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