|Wireless News Aggregation|
|Friday — January 1, 2016 — Issue No. 688|
Dear Friends of Wireless Messaging,
Welcome back to The Wireless Messaging News.
Well the holidays are over and it's time to get back to work. I hope you enjoyed the holidays as much as I did.
Cataract Report: My eyesight is great. Both eyes are working fine and there is no more pain. I am truly grateful.
Sometimes people wonder why I include personal information in my newsletter. The simple answer is that many of my readers have been colleagues and close personal friends for many years. Life is too short to be stiff and formal.
I read recently that in some other countries it is considered strange and maybe a little rude to say hello to people you don't know. Around here people even wave at each other as they drive by. We call it being friendly.
The response to my questions about the Public Safety Radio System that is not operating very well was tremendous. Thanks to everyone who helped out. I am not going to cover this issue in the newsletter as I have already forwarded the requested information on to the person who needed it. There was only one response from a reader who thought I shouldn't be using my newsletter database for this sort of thing. I assured him that I would have done the same no matter who the manufacturer of the equipment was. I thought it was important.
Case closed—for now.
This issue is a couple of days late. I will try to get another one out on Friday, January 8th to catch up.
This newsletter is a public forum for the Wireless Messaging and Paging communities. There is no cost for subscription. It is supported by advertising and contributions. Readers are encouraged to submit original-topic-related articles, and to share relevant news found on other sites. I can't say how many people read this each week, but at one time we had over 5,000 readers in nearly 50 countries. You can help by sharing and recommending it to friends and co-workers.
Now more news and views.
Wayne County, Illinois
A new issue of the Wireless Messaging Newsletter is posted on the web each week. A notification goes out by e-mail to subscribers on most Fridays around noon central US time. The notification message has a link to the actual newsletter on the web. That way it doesn’t fill up your incoming e-mail account.
There is no charge for subscription and there are no membership restrictions. Readers are a very select group of wireless industry professionals, and include the senior managers of many of the world’s major Paging and Wireless Messaging companies. There is an even mix of operations managers, marketing people, and engineers — so I try to include items of interest to all three groups. It’s all about staying up-to-date with business trends and technology.
I regularly get readers’ comments, so this newsletter has become a community forum for the Paging, and Wireless Messaging communities. You are welcome to contribute your ideas and opinions. Unless otherwise requested, all correspondence addressed to me is subject to publication in the newsletter and on my web site. I am very careful to protect the anonymity of those who request it.
I spend the whole week searching the Internet for news that I think may be of interest to you — so you won’t have to. This newsletter is an aggregator — a service that aggregates news from other news sources. You can help our community by sharing any interesting news that you find.
Editorial Opinion pieces present only the opinions of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of any of advertisers or supporters. This newsletter is independent of any trade association.
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The Board of Advisor members are people with whom I have developed a special rapport, and have met personally. They are not obligated to support the newsletter in any way, except with advice, and maybe an occasional letter to the editor.
|RF Demand Solutions|
Fulton County Launches New $20 Million Public Safety Radio System
January 4, 2016 1:14 PM By Maria Boynton
Fulton County is launching a new Public Safety Radio system this week, which it says will provide state-of-the art communications for public safety personnel. Chairman John H. Eaves and the Fulton County Emergency Communications Department held a preview of the system this morning in the Fulton County 911 Center.
Fulton County’s new public safety radio system, according to officials, represents an investment of approximately $20 million in public safety telecommunications. More than 3,500 personnel from more than 20 public safety agencies throughout Fulton County will use the system to allow them to communicate effectively with other public safety personnel, including dispatchers and first responders. Fulton County’s public safety radio system represents the largest in the state of Georgia. The new system significantly expands coverage from 9 radio sites to 15.
According to Chairman John Eaves, “Safety of our residents and first responders is our first priority. The new Fulton County Public Safety radio system offers state-of-the-art communication that will benefit public safety personnel and Fulton County residents. This new system highlights Fulton County’s ongoing commitment to public safety.”
“Fulton County’s investment in the new public safety radio system represents a significant step forward in our public safety infrastructure,” said Fulton County Emergency Services Director 911 Joseph Barasoain. “With the expanded coverage, public safety personnel will have seamless access to critical information in the field.”
Using Motorola Solutions ASTRO® 25 network, Fulton County first responders will be able to communicate with other agencies throughout Fulton County and in counties throughout the Metro Atlanta area. The new standards-based digital network replaces an existing analog radio system.
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American satellite started transmitting 46 years after being abandoned in 1967
Strangeness Oct 23, 2015
An American satellite, abandoned in 1967 as a piece of Space Junk has begun transmitting again after 46 years.
Lincoln Experimental Satellite refers to a series of satellites designed and built by Lincoln Laboratory at MIT between 1965 and 1976, under USAF sponsorship, for testing devices and techniques for satellite communication.
The series had satellites named LES1 through LES9. They suffered a number of launch problems – LES1 and LES2 were supposed to be delivered to the same 2800 x 15000 km orbit, though a failure of a boost stage left LES1 in a 2800 km circular orbit. LES3 and LES4 were intended to be delivered to geostationary orbit, but a launch problem left them in their transfer orbit. All these satellites returned useful results despite the incorrect orbits. LES 5, 6, 8 and 9 ended up successfully in geostationary orbit; the project that would have been LES-7 ran out of funding and was cancelled.
An Amateur Radio Astronomer in North Cornwall accidentally picked up the signal in 2013 and after cross checking with various lists, has identified it as LES1 built by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and launched in 1965. The satellite failed to reach its intended orbit owing to a wiring error and has been drifting out of control ever since.
Phil Williams G3YPQ from near Bude noticed its peculiar signal drift caused by its tumbling end over end every 4 seconds as the solar panels become shadowed by the engine. ‘This gives the signal a particularly ghostly sound as the voltage from the solar panels fluctuates’ Phil says.
It is likely that the on board batteries have now disintegrated and some other component failure has caused the transmitter on 237Mhz, to start up when its in sunlight.
LES1 is about the size of a small car, It is not likely to re-enter the atmosphere for a long time as the orbit is still relatively high. It poses no threat other than that caused by the thousands of other pieces of space junk in orbit. Phil says its remarkable to think that electronics built nearly 50 years ago, 12 years before Voyager 1, and long before microprocessors and integrated circuits, is still capable of working in the hostile environs of space.
Listening to the signal you can easily imagine the craft tumbling over and over every 4 seconds and the transmitter starting up as the sun rises. He refers to the hobby as ‘Radio-Archeology’!
LES-1, launched from Cape Canaveral on 11 February 1965, accomplished only a few of its objectives. Apparently because of miswiring of the ordnance circuitry, the satellite never left circular orbit and ceased transmitting in 1967. LES-2, the twin of LES-1 fared much better; it achieved its planned final orbit on 6 May 1965.
|Source:||The Vantage News|
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Professor Lam Khin Yong has managed to combine two careers: one as a hands-on scientist and another as one of Singapore’s preeminent research rainmakers.
Grace Chua | December 30, 2015
AsianScientist (Dec. 30, 2015) — How does an underwater mine shockwave travel through the sea towards its target? What happens to a pager when it is dropped from a certain height? And if a fire breaks out in an enclosed space, how does the smoke fill the room?
Lam Khin Yong, 58, chief of staff and vice-president for research at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), has explored or managed all these research questions and more in a three-decade career.
A professor of mechanical engineering, his expertise and consultancy work for companies has also helped secure more than S$200m of research grants and collaborations for the Singapore research community, including a S$75m lab with aerospace giant Rolls-Royce.
In other words, Professor Lam has managed to combine two successful careers: one as a hands-on scientist and another as one of Singapore’s preeminent research rainmakers.
As a young graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Professor Lam developed hydraulic fracturing methods—the same technology widely used in the oil and gas industry, especially for shale gas extraction today.
His research focussed on modelling a fluid as it travels through a narrow channel and interacts with its surroundings. He worked on a complete simulation of hydraulic fracturing in three dimensions, first understanding the basic physics behind fluid movement, then building mathematical models to explain how fracking would work under various field conditions.
With his advisor, Professor Lam developed software based on this work. It was later used by industry to simulate underground oil extraction.
Most importantly, he learned to be entrepreneurial.
When he graduated, oil and gas companies tried to recruit the newly-minted PhD, but he decided to return home in 1985 to be nearer to his family.
He joined the National University of Singapore (NUS), which at the time was just beginning to grow into a major research university.
But research funding was hard to come by at the time.
In 1991, while working as the principal investigator on a project to model the effectiveness of civil-defence shelter doors, Professor Lam dreamt up his first big research project for Singapore.
Having served his reservist duty in the Singapore Navy, he was already familiar with its design and testing procedures for new vessels and equipment. Recognising the need for vessels to better withstand shock, Professor Lam and his team carried out computational modelling to simulate field conditions.
In 1993, his project proposal received a S$3.13m (S$4.6m in today’s dollars) grant—one of the biggest at the time—from the Naval Logistics Department and DSO National Laboratories. Thus was born the underwater shock laboratory at NUS.
Professor Lam, with support from his colleagues and students, used a mini supercomputer bought with the grant money to model shock waves and the resulting bubbles travelling through water, such as from underwater mine explosions, analysing their interaction with the surroundings. The research helped the Navy design naval vessels that could better withstand underwater shock.
Five years later, his team became the first led by a university academic to win the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Technology Prize for its work.
One advantage of Professor Lam’s specialty, computational modelling, is that it is endlessly versatile.
With the Navy as its first major client, word soon spread of Professor Lam’s underwater shock laboratory. This spawned several more industrial collaborations with firms such as Motorola and ST Kinetics. For instance, in a project for Motorola, Professor Lam’s modelling was used to answer the question: how will a pager casing behave when it is dropped from a certain height? (In the process he surely saved the lives of many “crash-test” pagers.)
One memorable project, Professor Lam recalls, was modelling the ventilation system for the Esplanade’s theatres. His research questions included: how will cool air flow through the space to make the temperature even for all audience members? If there is a fire, where will the smoke go?
In all, between 1995 and 2007, Professor Lam helped secure more than S$30m of external, competitive research grants for computational mechanics work, from companies and organisations.
Over the years, advances in computing power have sped up modelling and simulation tasks. Supercomputers that once performed one million operations a second can now perform a billion times that, Professor Lam explains.
By 1998, the NUS centre for computational mechanics had merged with the national centre for supercomputing research and services to form the Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), under the auspices of the NSTB and later A*STAR. As the NUS centre’s founding director, Professor Lam also became founding director of IHPC, which studies the properties of materials and fluid movement. Its visualisation group is the first in Asia to have a three-dimensional immersive visualisation “cave”.
Despite his intimate knowledge of academia-industry collaborations, Professor Lam never really considered joining the private sector.
Following IHPC was a string of more administrative appointments, such as head of A*STAR’s graduate academy, to nurture students for science and engineering fields; chair of NTU’s school of mechanical and aerospace engineering; associate provost for graduate education and special projects; and chief executive officer of NTU Innovation. In these capacities, Professor Lam helped manage ever-bigger budgets and tasks.
As NTU’s chief of staff and vice-president for research today, he helps to manage research in an array of fields. In 2013, for example, he helped the university secure a major collaboration with Rolls-Royce, a renowned British engine and power-systems firm.
But the S$75m lab, which studies electrical power and control systems, manufacturing and repair technologies, and computational engineering, is actually the product of a long courtship.
In 1999, the IHPC signed a research agreement with Rolls-Royce and Imperial College London. “We had a supercomputer in Singapore, but the data had to be couriered to Imperial in those days because the network link was not strong,” Professor Lam recalls.
Meanwhile, NTU and Rolls-Royce had been collaborating on an ad-hoc basis since 2005, but a long-term working relationship had yet to crystallise.
So when the National Research Foundation announced its Corporate Laboratory scheme in 2013, in which major firms would co-fund dedicated research labs at local universities, NTU and Rolls-Royce were perfectly placed to work together. The Rolls-Royce@NTU Corporate Lab, jointly funded by the National Research Foundation, Rolls-Royce and NTU, was born.
In April 2015, NTU and ST Engineering, a local engineering giant, announced a S$53m corporate laboratory in robotics and autonomous systems.
Today, Professor Lam continues to help guide NTU’s research directions and hopes to be active for many years yet.
At a larger level, Professor Lam believes Singapore should strengthen its collaborations between universities, research institutes, national agencies and industry in a triple helix partnership, to create real research impact and innovation.
It should also continue efforts to get students excited about a science or engineering career.
IoT-Friendly Wi-Fi HaLow Tech Announced During CES
Gear supporting the forthcoming 802.11ah standard will enable lower-power, long-range wireless networking, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance.
Posted January 4, 2016
Of the billions of devices that are expected to light up the Internet of Things (IoT) over the next couple of years, it's a safe bet that many, if not most, will connect wirelessly.
Using this week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) conference in Las Vegas as a backdrop, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced today that gadgets conforming to the 802.11ah wireless connectivity standard will carry the new Wi-Fi HaLow moniker. "Wi-Fi HaLow is well suited to meet the unique needs of the Smart Home, Smart City, and industrial markets because of its ability to operate using very low power, penetrate through walls, and operate at significantly longer ranges than Wi-Fi today," said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of the Wi-Fi Alliance, in a statement today.
Wi-Fi HaLow works on the 900 MHz band, setting the stage of low-power Wi-Fi connected gadgets, including wearables and sensors. According to the Alliance, Wi-Fi HaLow provides nearly twice the range of today's Wi-Fi and can punch a signal more readily through walls and other barriers that can make wireless networking a challenge.
The group envisions the technology providing IoT connectivity to both smart homes and industrial plants. "Wi-Fi HaLow expands the unmatched versatility of Wi-Fi to enable applications from small, battery-operated wearable devices to large-scale industrial facility deployments – and everything in between," Figueroa added.
The wireless chipmaker views Wi-Fi HaLow as a whole-house connectivity solution. "11ah extends the range of Wi-Fi beyond the limited range of 2.4 and 5 GHz by leveraging the improved propagation and penetration of 900MHz radio waves through walls and obstructions," Qualcomm stated on its website . "With 11ah, Wi-Fi coverage improves in previously hard to reach places such as garages, back yards, attics, buildings, factories, malls, etc."
Wi-Fi HaLow will help IoT device vendors cut the cord, enabling battery-powered sensors to communicate their status and other pertinent information without running out of juice. "A 150 Kbps minimum data rate results in short on-time for sensors with short bursty data packets thus lowering their power consumption," Qualcomm explained. "Overall power is also reduced by using lower power MAC protocols such as smaller frame formats, sensor traffic priority, and beaconless paging mode."
The Wi-Fi Alliance isn't stopping at 802.11ah. In 2019, the 802.11ax standard may further enable IoT networking with speeds of 10 Gbps and a channel-slicing technique that can extend the range of compliant devices.
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FCC Extends Small Provider Exemption from Enhanced Transparency, Affirms Existing Threshold
On December 15, the FCC issued a report and order extending the small provider exemption from its enhanced transparency rules to December 15, 2016. According to the report and order, the extension was granted because the FCC requires more time to proceed through the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) process for the enhanced transparency rule, which involves estimating the burden of complying with the transparency rule enhancements for providers of all sizes and obtaining approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The FCC sought comment on the PRA aspect of the rule back in May of 2015, and expects the process to be completed before the new December 2016 exemption deadline. At that time, it will consider whether and, if so, how best to extend the temporary exemption from the enhanced transparency requirements.
In the report and order, the FCC expressly disagreed with commenters that claim that the enhanced transparency requirements offer no tangible benefit to customers of smaller providers, such as CTIA. Rather, the FCC noted commenters that cited specific requirements as being particularly burdensome for smaller providers, and indicated that it is preparing final burden estimates based on the PRA comments filed. In addition, the FCC indicated that it anticipates a public notice in the near future, offering guidance similar to what was provided in 2011 on interpreting the original transparency requirements.
The FCC also affirmed its current exemption threshold of “100,000 or fewer broadband [connections] as per [provider’s] most recent Form 477, aggregated over all of the providers’ affiliates.” Although some parties advocated for a larger threshold, the FCC expressed concern that this would substantially increase the number of consumers who would be temporarily excluded from receiving the information that it has deemed essential for them to make informed choices about broadband services.
House Energy and Commerce and Small Business Committee leaders expressed disappointment at the FCC’s decision. “Permanent protection should have been an easy call, but the FCC fumbled it,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).
Supreme Court Again Upholds Federal Preference for Arbitration
The Supreme Court has expanded on its previous decision supporting arbitration provisions in contracts that avert class action lawsuits and class action arbitrations in DIRECTV, Inc. v. Imburgia et al. DIRECTV began as a class action lawsuit in the California courts, in which consumers claimed that DIRECTV, by imposing hefty early-termination fees, violated California consumer-protection legislation, including the Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA). DIRECTV's service agreement included a binding arbitration provision with a class-arbitration waiver and specified that the arbitration clause was governed by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). However, the agreement also specified that the entire arbitration provision was unenforceable if the “law of your state” made class-arbitration waivers unenforceable. After the Supreme Court's decision in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 563 U. S. 333, in which the Supreme Court overturned the California courts refusal to enforce a mandatory arbitration provision in AT&T Mobility contracts because they contained a prohibition on class-arbitration contrary to California law, DIRECTV asked the California court to order the matter to arbitration. The California court denied the request finding that the provision in the contract that specified that the arbitration provision was unenforceable if the "“law of your state” made class-arbitration waivers unenforceable, was sufficient to meet an exception in the FAA. (The FAA states that a “written provision” in a contract providing for “settle[ment] by arbitration” of “a controversy . . . arising out of ” that “contract . . . shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract.” 9 U. S. C. §2. )
The Supreme court, however, disagreed and found that the California court's decision does not rest “upon such grounds as exist . . . for the revocation of any contract. ” Rather, in DIRECTV , the Supreme Court repeated that the FAA pre-empted the California law and, therefore, the court must enforce the arbitration agreement. In the process, the Supreme Court has closed a possible avenue to get around the federal preference for arbitration in state's hostile to arbitration.
Companies should consider the benefit of including a mandatory arbitration clause and a prohibition on class-arbitration in their contracts.
ILEC Successfully Challenges Bureau Finding that Study Area Subject to 100 Percent Overlap; ILEC That Fails to Respond Loses Support
On December 14, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau issued an Order finding that Pineville Telephone Company is subject to a 100 percent overlap by an unsubsidized competitor. As such, support payments for the company will be phased down over a two-year period beginning in 2016. Although other study areas were examined, no competitor demonstrated that any other study area was subject to 100 percent overlap.
The Bureau’s decision follows a Public Notice released in late July of 2015, in which the Bureau published a preliminary list of 15 rate-of-return carrier study areas which, based on Form 477 deployment data, appeared subject to a 100 percent overlap by an unsubsidized competitor or combination of unsubsidized competitors. The Bureau invited comment on this preliminary determination from both ILECs and unsubsidized competitors. Seven of the 19 competitors and 12 of the 15 ILECs responded. However, the Bureau indicated that absent a showing by a competitor that its preliminary determination was correct, it would not find a study area to be 100 percent overlapped.
In response to the Public Notice, Time Warner submitted a certification that it serves all of the locations in Pineville’s census blocks with both fixed voice and broadband service that meets the comparability benchmark, actual speed, latency, and capacity requirements necessary to support 100 percent overlap. Because Pineland did not submit any information, the Bureau found Time Warner overlapped Pineville’s study area .
JMZ Corporation also submitted a declaration that it makes service available to all of the locations in the study area of LaHarpe Telephone Company with both fixed voice and broadband service using its fixed wireless technology. However, LaHarpe submitted evidence in its comments that JMZ does not serve all of the locations in the relevant blocks of the LaHarpe study area, including maps of JMZ’s fixed wireless coverage areas from its website, the results of field tests of JMZ’s network showing its signal strength at certain locations in LaHarpe’s study area was insufficient for providing broadband service, and statements by consumers in the study area that their service from JMZ had been unreliable and significantly slower than advertised. The Bureau found that JMZ did not meet the Commission’s minimum standards for service to all locations and, correspondingly, that the LaHarpe study area is not 100 percent overlapped.
Fort Mojave Telecommunications, Inc. was removed from the preliminary determination because it filed updated maps showing study area boundaries that did not trigger the FCC’s review criteria. In the 12 remaining study areas listed as 100 percent overlapped in the preliminary analysis, the FCC received insufficient evidence from the unsubsidized competitors serving those study areas to conclude that those study areas should be classified as 100 percent overlapped.
Law & Regulation
Congress Expected to Permanently Ban Internet Tax
Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that members of a House-Senate conference committee had approved a permanent extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, a moratorium first enacted in 1998 that prevents states from taxing access to the Internet. According to the Journal, “congressional negotiators signed and posted their conference report on a trade facilitation bill, which includes the permanent ban on email and Internet access taxes.” Without an extension, the Act will sunset on its own later this week.
The Hill writes, however, that this week things are not running as smoothly as originally hoped. According to a Senate aide speaking to The Hill, work on the customs bill will be pushed to January because of delays on the year-end government funding package. Further, The Hill reports that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) criticized the way the bill was wrapped in a customs bill and warned he had enough votes to strip the provision out of the broader customs bill if it hit the floor. "It's possible the Republican leadership wants to hold this over," the Senator told The Hill, while stressing that isn't his decision to make.
The Internet Tax Freedom Act has been extended five times by Congress since its original enactment, with the most recent extension being in September of 2015. The Act does not address the taxation of goods and services purchased on the Internet.
Senators File Letter Supporting Municipalities Blocking Broadband
On December 11, Senator Marco Rubio and seven other Republican Senators filed a letter with the FCC expressing “serious concern” about the FCC’s efforts to encourage broadband networks owned by municipal governments. The Senators are referring to the FCC’s February order preempting Tennessee and North Carolina state laws that prohibited government-owned broadband networks.
In their letter, the senators said that the FCC is “promoting government-owned networks at the possible expense of private sector broadband providers” and that municipal broadband networks “not only run the risk of overbuilding existing private networks, they could also result in the loss of limited universal service funds for carriers...” The senators opined that states are best positioned to determine what works best for their citizens.
The senators also asked the FCC to provide responses to the following questions by January 4:
FCC Issues Regulatory Fees Small Entity Compliance Guide
On December 14, 2015, the FCC issued a Small Entity Compliance Guide on the assessment and collection of regulatory fees for Fiscal Year 2015. While the annual regulatory fees were due in September, it is important to remember that this guide will provide information regarding those fees as well as small fees which are payable upfront (as part of application fees) for certain radio services, including many of the Part 90 services as well as the Microwave Services under Part 101 and the Rural Radio/BETRS services under Part 22 of the FCC’s Rules. This guide is similar to the information that we provided to our clients in August/September of this year. Nonetheless, our small business, non-profit and local government clients should review this guide and let us know if you have any questions.
Comcast Reaches $26m Settlement Over Waste Dumping, Privacy Violation Complaint
Multiple new sources are reporting that Comcast agreed to pay penalties worth $25.95 million, including $1.6 million that will go to provide lab equipment for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, and $2.25 million over the course of four years in public service announcements about proper handling of hazardous waste. Comcast must also spend a minimum of $700,000 to enhance its environmental compliance policies.
According to a complaint filed last week by the Attorney General of California and the District Attorney for Alameda County, Comcast was illegal disposing of hazardous materials (such as electronic equipment, batteries and aerosol cans) in local landfills. The Complaint also alleged that Comcast failed to properly dispose of customer records by shredding them, erasing them, or otherwise modifying them to make them unreadable.
“Comcast’s careless and unlawful hazardous waste disposal practices jeopardized the health and environmental well-being of California communities and exposed their customers to the threat of identity theft,” said the Attorney General in a statement.
JANUARY 15: HAC REPORTING DEADLINE. The next Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC) reporting deadline for digital commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) providers (including carriers that provide service using AWS-1 spectrum and resellers of cellular, broadband PCS and/or AWS services) is Friday, January 15, 2016. Non-Tier I service providers must offer to consumers at least 50 percent of the handset models per air interface, or a minimum of ten handset models per air interface, that meet or exceed the M3 rating, and at least one-third of the handset models per air interface, or a minimum of ten handset models per air interface, that meet or exceed the T3 rating. Month-to-month handset offering information provided in annual reports must be current through the end of 2015. With many of our clients adjusting their handset offerings and making new devices available to customers throughout the year, it is very easy for even the most diligent carriers to stumble unknowingly into a non-compliance situation, resulting in fines starting at $15,000 for each HAC-enabled handset they are deficient. Following the T-Mobile USA Notice of Apparent Liability (FCC 12-39), the Commission’s enforcement policy calls for multiplying the $15,000 per-handset fine by the number of months of the deficiency, creating the potential for very steep fines. It is therefore crucial that our clients pay close attention to their HAC regulatory compliance, and monthly checks are strongly recommended. In this regard, we have prepared a HAC reporting template to assist our clients in keeping track of their HAC handset offerings, and other regulatory compliance efforts. ALL SERVICE PROVIDERS SUBJECT TO THE COMMISSION’S HAC RULES – INCLUDING COMPANIES THAT QUALIFY FOR THE DE MINIMIS EXCEPTION – MUST PARTICIPATE IN ANNUAL HAC REPORTING. To the extent that your company is a provider of broadband PCS, cellular and/or interconnected SMR services, if you are a CMRS reseller and/or if you have plans to provide CMRS using newly licensed (or partitioned) AWS or 700 MHz spectrum, you and your company will need to be familiar with the Commission’s revised rules.
FEBRUARY 1: FCC FORM 499-Q, TELECOMMUNICATIONS REPORTING WORKSHEET. All telecommunications common carriers that expect to contribute more than $10,000 to federal Universal Service Fund (USF) support mechanisms must file this quarterly form. The FCC has modified this form in light of its decision to establish interim measures for USF contribution assessments. The form contains revenue information from the prior quarter plus projections for the next quarter. Form 499-Q relates only to USF contributions. It does not relate to the cost recovery mechanisms for the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund, the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), and the shared costs of local number portability (LNP), which are covered in the annual Form 499-A that is due April 1.
FEBRUARY 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 February 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 are required to include their FCC Registration Number (FRN). 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.
LMCC Clarifies Enforcement Request Concerning Licensees That Still Show Wideband Emission Designator
As previously reported last month, Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC) is requesting that the FCC begin enforcement efforts against those private radio licensees that have yet to come into compliance with the narrowbanding requirements. The LMCC request focuses on the disruption to frequency coordination that non-compliant licensees cause. Licensees that have not yet achieved compliance should move quickly to do so, as the FCC’s response to LMCC’s request could include a license audit and fines for those not yet showing the narrowband emission designator. LMCC also asks that licensees who now seek to change from wideband to narrowband designator on their license be required to go through full frequency coordination, which will engender more expense and delay than a simple minor modificaton.
At the request of BloostonLaw, LMCC clarified its enforcement request as follows: “LMCC also wishes to clarify in response to a member request that licensees who properly installed narrowband equipment and added the narrowband emission designator to their license would still be able to delete the wideband emission designator as part of their next renewal or modification application.”
This change is significant because many licensees added the narrowband emission to their license, but have not yet deleted the wideband designator because they were not sure of the exact time when their new narrowband equipment would be installed. The FCC up until now has been allowing these compliant licensees to simply delete the old wideband designator as part of their next renewal application, to avoid the expense of a separate filing. With the above clarification, LMCC makes it clear that compliant licensees should be able to continue that practice (and indeed, for BloostonLaw clients that have a retainer arrangement with us, we have been deleting the wideband designator when we prepare their renewal applications).
FCC Issues Regulatory Fees Small Entity Compliance Guide
On December 14, 2015, the FCC issued a Small Entity Compliance Guide on the assessment and collection of regulatory fees for Fiscal Year 2015. While the annual regulatory fees were due in September, it is important to remember that this guide will provide information regarding those fees as well as small fees which are payable upfront (as part of application fees) for certain radio services, including many of the Part 90 services as well as the Microwave Services under Part 101 and the Rural Radio/BETRS services under Part 22 of the FCC’s Rules. This guide is similar to the information that we provided to our clients in August/September of this year. Nonetheless, our business clients should review this guide and let us know if you have any questions. We would also like to take this opportunity to remind our government and non-profit clients that they are exempt from the payment of regulatory fees and may be entitled to a refund for any fees that may have been paid in error.
FCC Extends Comment Deadline for Protected Contours of Grandfathered 3.65GHz Licensees
On December 9, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau issued a Public Notice extending the deadline for filing comments and reply comments in response to the Public Notice released on October 23 regarding an appropriate method for determining the protected contours for grandfathered 3650-3700 MHz band licensees. Comments are now due December 28, and reply comments are now due January 12.
The Bureau’s Public Notice seeks comment on a two-pronged approach to defining Grandfathered Wireless Protection Zones around “grandfathered” base stations. Under this two-part approach, the Grandfathered Wireless Protection Zone around each base station would be defined by: (1) sectors with a 4.4 km radius from each registered base station, and the azimuth and beamwidth registered for that base station with associated unregistered customer premises equipment (CPE) to encompass the operational area of unregistered subscriber stations; and (2) sectors (centered on each base station with the registered azimuth and beamwidth) which would encompass all registered subscriber stations within that sector.
The Public Notice also seeks comment on other issues related to the establishment of the Grandfathered Wireless Protection Zone, including: (1) procedures for determining compliance with the Commission’s construction and operation requirements for the band; and (2) an implementation strategy to ensure that an accurate definition of the Grandfathered Wireless Protection Zone is available to the authorized Spectrum Access Systems (SASs).
Existing networks in the 3650-3700 MHz band in the majority of cases are constructed to provide last mile wireless broadband access. Generally, a base station is constructed in the center of the area intended to be served and then as subscribers are enrolled, CPE is put in place at various points around the base station. CPE that operates below the mobile power limit of 1 watt/25 MHz EIRP does not have to be registered in ULS, while all equipment that operates above that limit must be registered.
Our law firm’s clients with registered 3650-3700 MHz band operations should let us know if they want us to provide them with a more detailed report on the Commission’s proposals.
Filing Deadlines Established for WEA Alert NPRM
On December 14, the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau issued a Public Notice establishing the comment deadlines for its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes revisions to the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) rules to improve the clarity of WEA messages; ensure that WEA alerts reach only those individuals to whom a WEA alert is relevant; and establish a WEA testing program that will improve the effectiveness of the system for public safety officials and the public. Comments are due January 13, 2016, and reply comments are due February 12, 2016.
Specifically, the Commission’s proposals fall into three categories: improving the effectiveness of WEA message content, improving geo-targeting, and facilitating testing and proficiency training. With regard to messaging, the Commission proposes to expand the maximum character length of WEA messages from 90 to 360 characters, create a new class of WEA alerts (Emergency Government Information) to provide an additional mechanism for critical communications between alert originators and their communities, and to remove its prohibition on embedded references to allow the provision of phone numbers and URLs in WEA messages. With respect to geo-targeting, the Commission proposes to require Participating Commercial Mobile Service (CMS) Providers to distribute WEA messages to a geographic area that more accurately matches the target area specified by the alert originator. With respect to WEA testing and training, the Commission proposes to establish requirements and procedures to facilitate state and local WEA testing and proficiency training, and seeks comment on logging and reporting requirements for Participating CMS Provider Alert Gateways. With respect to consumer participation, the Commission seeks comment on different alternatives for displaying and receiving WEA messages, in order to reduce the likelihood that consumers will “opt out” of WEA.
FCC Fines Licensee $25,000 for Causing Harmful Interference on Shared Channels
In response to a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture issued earlier this year, the FCC has now imposed a fine for $25,000 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.
As a result of 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 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.
MRA also responded to the NALF and claimed that (a) it did not violate the FCC’s Rules and (b) the FCC was treating it differently from other licensees. Of interest is MRA’s claim that the FCC did not take enforcement action against licensees that had interfered with MRA’s operations. The FCC found this argument to be without merit inasmuch as the FCC had investigated and sanctioned numerous licensees for violating the requirements of Rule Section 90.403(c) – which limits radio transmissions to the minimum practical amount of time required to complete the transmission.
The FCC’s Rules clearly require that shared channel licensees have to avoid causing harmful interference. These obligations are especially critical because the channels are shared. As discussed above, Rule Section 90.403(c) limits transmissions to the minimum amount of time required. Further, 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 before transmitting, 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. As demonstrated by this case, the FCC is not afraid to impose heavy fines in cases of harmful interference or monopolization of shared private radio channels.
FCC and DOL Announce Tower Climber Safety Workshop Feb. 11
The FCC recently released a Public Notice announcing that it and the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Employment Training Administration (ETA) are jointly sponsoring a second workshop on tower climber safety and the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program. The workshop will be held on February 11, 2016 from 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM at the FCC’s Headquarters. Interested clients may either attend in person or via the Internet at www.fcc.gov/live .
The FCC has indicated that the workshop will include panel discussions on the following topics:
FCC Clarifies Order Allowing Vehicular Repeater Systems
As we previously reported in our August edition, the FCC released an order allowing the licensing of Vehicular Repeater Systems on six remote control and telemetry channels in the VHF band. While the text of the FCC’s Order correctly removed certain technical limitations on the six channels that were no longer necessary due to the narrowbanding of the VHF/UHF bands ( e.g., limits on omnidirectional antennas, power levels and antenna heights), those changes were not carried over to the FCC’s Rules in Appendix A of the FCC’s Order. As a result, the FCC has now issued a clarifying order in order to remove those restrictions from Rule Sections 90.20 and 90.35 as appropriate.
FCC Grants ACR Electronics Rule Waiver Request to Permit Authorization of 2-Way Communicator Personal Locator Beacon
The FCC has granted the request for waiver by ACR Electronics, Inc. (ACR) to permit the issuance of an equipment authorization and use of its 2-Way Communicator Personal Locator Beacon (SARLink), subject to certain conditions.
The SARLink is an emergency alerting device that is intended to provide individuals in remote areas with a means to alert others of an emergency or distress situation as well as aid search and rescue personnel in locating victims in remote areas.
The SARLink equipment provides distress alerting on the 406 MHz COSPAS-SARSAT satellite system and text messaging and tracking capabilities through the Iridium satellite system. In making its rule waiver request, ACR states that its device is a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). PLBs are intended to be used as emergency radio beacons for use by individuals in remote areas and are designed to transmit distress signals on 406 MHz for communications with the COSPAS SARSAT satellite system and a low-powered signal on the frequency 121.5 MHz that is used by search and rescue personnel to locate individuals in distress. Additionally, PLB’s must meet the Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services (RTCM) standards which contain the minimum requirements and performance standards for PLBs.
ACR requested a rule waiver because the SARLink does not include the required 121.5 MHz beacon that would be used by SAR teams to locate persons in distress. In making this request, ACR asserts that its two-way text messaging capability provides a better distress alerting and locating assistance than the normal 121.5 MHz beacon. Nonetheless, the US Coast Guard and the US SARSAT Program submitted joint comments expressing concerns about ACR’s proposal.
In granting the rule waiver request, the FCC noted that while the 121.5 MHz homing beacon is design to locate people in distress, “the global communications capabilities of the Iridium transceiver in the SARLink will allow SAR personnel to receive location information, including physical landmarks and obstacles directly, from the user. Additionally, the SARLink will be sold directly by ACR to government agencies and high-risk entities, and will not be sold to the general public via retail outlets. Finally, all users will be required to have a trained organized support activity or call center.”
In addition, the FCC imposed the following limitations on the SARLink device:
Office clients that would qualify as a state or local governmental entity or a high-risk commercial industry user with operations in remote areas should contact our office with any questions in order to determine if this device might be useful for the protection of life and property in remote areas.
|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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