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Wireless News Aggregation

Friday — March 4, 2016 — Issue No. 697


Dear Friends of Wireless Messaging,

Welcome back to The Wireless Messaging News.

No editorial this week, but there is lots of very interesting news.

Don't miss the LETTERS TO THE EDITOR near the end.

Now on to more news and views.

Wayne County, Illinois


Wireless Messaging News

  • Emergency Radio Communications
  • Wireless Messaging
  • Critical Messaging
  • Telemetry
  • Paging
  • Wi-Fi
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About Us

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 Policy

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 Wireless Messaging News
Board of Advisors

Frank McNeill
Founder & CEO
Communications Specialists
Jim Nelson
President & CEO
Prism Systems International
Kevin D. McFarland, MSCIS
Sr. Application Systems Analyst
Dartmouth-Hitchcock
Medical Center
Paul Lauttamus
President
Lauttamus Communications & Security
R.H. (Ron) Mercer
Wireless Consultant
Barry Kanne
Paging Industry Veteran
Ira Wiesenfeld, P.E.
Consulting Engineer
Allan Angus
Consulting Engineer

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.




Advertiser Index

American Messaging
Critical Alert
Easy Solutions
Hark Technologies
Ira Wiesenfeld & Associates
Leavitt Communications
PageTek
Preferred Wireless
Prism Paging
Product Support Services — (PSSI)
Paging & Wireless Network Planners LLC — (Ron Mercer)
RF Demand Solutions
STI Engineering
UltraTek Security Cameras
WaveWare Technologies

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Easy Solutions

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Easy Solutions provides cost effective computer and wireless solutions at affordable prices. We can help in most any situation with your communications systems. We have many years of experience and a vast network of resources to support the industry, your system and an ever changing completive landscape.

  • We treat our customers like family. We don’t just fix problems . . . We recommend and implement better cost-effective solutions.
  • We are not just another vendor . . . We are a part of your team. All the advantages of high priced full time employment without the cost.
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Experts in Paging Infrastructure

  • Glenayre, Motorola, Unipage, etc.
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Please see our web site for exciting solutions designed specifically for the Wireless Industry. We also maintain a diagnostic lab and provide important repair and replacement parts services for Motorola and Glenayre equipment. Call or e-mail us for more information.

Easy Solutions
3220 San Simeon Way
Plano, Texas 75023

Vaughan Bowden
Telephone: 972-898-1119
Website: www.EasySolutions4You.com
E-mail: vaughan@easysolutions4you.com

Easy Solutions


Apple Leak Confirms Massive New iPhone 7

 

Gordon Kelly
CONTRIBUTOR
I write about technology's biggest companies

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Question: How many new iPhone models does Apple release each year? It used to be one, then two when Apple launched the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Well now in 2016 it is going to be four…

Looking to consolidate his reputation as “ the best Apple analyst on the planet ”, KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo is at it again. In a research note obtained by MacRumors Kuo has reaffirmed that Apple will indeed release three models of the iPhone 7 this year in addition to the imminent 4-inch ‘iPhone SE ’.

Consequently the three iPhone 7 models will be the 4.7-inch iPhone 7, 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus and a new and even more premium model based around (already huge) Plus which some are dubbing the ‘iPhone 7 Pro’. What’s the difference between the Pro (I’ll go with the name for now) and the Plus? A groundbreaking camera.


iPhone 7 concept. Image credit: Marek Weidlich

In fact, I should say groundbreaking ‘cameras’ because Kuo says the iPhone 7 Pro will use a dual-lens camera system created by LinX, an imaging specialist Apple purchased in 2015.

My fellow Forbes’ contributor Paul Monckton has already broken down LinX technology in detail , but the short version is it promises huge steps forward in speed and low light shots as well as the ability to incorporate a 2-3x optical zoom. The latter is potentially a major differentiator for Apple given the opportunity to build on the success of its ‘Shot on iPhone’ marketing campaign.

Kuo says LinX dual-lens technology also allows the camera module to be very thin so the iPhone 7 Pro may eliminate the range’s infamous camera bulge .

But why would Apple consider fragmenting its iPhone range just to put a better camera into a third iPhone 7 model? Why not equip all iPhone 7 models with the technology or, if it must be split, offer it in the Plus and not the standard iPhone 7? After all there’s a precedent there. The iPhone 6 and 6S already lag behind the iPhone 6/6S Plus cameras due to their lack of optical image stabilisation (OIS).

Kuo states the reason for making the third model simply comes down to supply constraints. Apple can’t produce the LinX camera modules in enough quantity so it will create a third smartphone just to get the technology to the market in more limited quantities.

And it is this last detail which, for me, raises questions.

Brilliance Or Madness?

Some may think a third super premium iPhone 7 is a great idea which allows Apple to cash in, but personally I think fragmenting the iPhone line is a bad idea and something Apple should avoid at all costs. With the iPhone SE, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus (and potentially ongoing sales of the iPhone 5S) there’s already enough variety and an iPhone 7 Pro would only serve to confuse customers.


LinX dual, trio and quad lens systems beside an iPhone dual camera mock-up. Image credit: SiliconWadi

So why is Apple doing it? It must think either a) LinX technology is so impressive customers need to see it and be blown away, or b) it will cover for limitations in Apple’s standard camera technology which fell behind Samsung’s Galaxy S6, especially as the gap is about to widen further with the Galaxy S7 .

If it is the latter and Apple already knows its high volume, more conventional camera technology in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus can’t match the Galaxy S7 then perhaps Apple feels it needs a limited edition flagship which can match or even surpasses Samsung’s efforts and become the poster child for marketing.

Of course the other angle is Kuo is simply wrong. But given over the last 18 months he broke news of the radical 12-inch MacBook, iPad Pro (including launch ), the shift to 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screen sizes with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and nailed every major feature of the iPhone 6S four months ahead of its launch this seems unlikely.

As such I’ll be monitoring this very closely indeed…

Source: Forbes  

RF Demand Solutions

Codan Paging Transmitters

  • The smart choice for Critical Messaging
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  • Integrates with Motorola & Glenayre Simulcast
  • Compatible with most popular Controllers
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NSA Is Mysteriously Absent From FBI-Apple Fight

Jenna McLaughlin
Mar. 3 2016, 3:00 p.m.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation insisted that it was helpless.

The bureau told a judge in February that Apple has the “exclusive technical means” to try to unlock the contents of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone — and that’s why it should be forced to do so.

But notably missing from the FBI’s argument was any mention of whether it had consulted spies and sleuths from the government’s intelligence community — particularly the National Security Agency.

The Twitterverse exploded with questions. Couldn’t the NSA break open the phone? If it could, why didn’t it?

Apple itself raised those questions in a court filing. “The government has not made any showing that it sought or received technical assistance from other federal agencies with expertise in digital forensics, which assistance might obviate the need to conscript Apple to create the back door it now seeks,” the company’s attorneys wrote.

The NSA, after all, has long targeted digital encryption systems for exploitation, and, as The Intercept revealed in 2015, the CIA and NSA have been working for nearly a decade specifically to find ways to hack into Apple devices. Those agencies could presumably help the FBI do what it wants to do to Farook’s iPhone: place a modified version of Apple’s iOS operating system on the device that allows rapid, unlimited attempts to guess Farook’s encryption passcode.

Peter Thomson, a former federal prosecutor who worked on special assignment at the NSA, told The Intercept, “I know of no case law that would put the burden on the FBI to go to the intelligence community,” adding, “I don’t think the NSA has to share what it can and can’t do.”

“Apple is being quite creative with its argument. Assuming first that the NSA can get into the phone — then [asking it to help] is pushing the envelope into the classified world,” Thomson said.

FBI Director James Comey, when asked directly during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday if the bureau had tried to get help from “agencies such as the NSA,” replied, “Yes is the answer. We’ve talked to anybody who will talk to us about it.”

He later said: “We don’t have the capabilities that people sometimes on TV imagine us to have. If we could have done this quietly and privately, we would have done it.”

But his lack of specificity — What did the NSA say when contacted by the FBI? Who is “we”? — did not really clear things up.

So why didn’t the NSA help? Here are a few possibilities:

1. The NSA tried to help, but it couldn’t.

This seems unlikely, but it’s possible. For instance, it’s conceivable the agency isn’t able to forge Apple’s cryptographic signature, which is required to install a modified operating system on an iPhone.

Dan Guido, CEO of the security research firm Trail of Bits, explained in a blog post : “Before any firmware image is loaded by an iPhone, the device first checks whether the firmware has a valid signature from Apple. This signature check is why the FBI cannot load new software onto an iPhone on their own — the FBI does not have the secret keys that Apple uses to sign firmware.”

2. The NSA could help, but doesn’t want to.

“They don’t want to acknowledge they have the capability at all,” said Chris Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union. “It’s giving the NSA’s adversaries false confidence. If you’re Angela Merkel and you have an iPhone, you’re feeling pretty good right now.”

Similarly, if Apple knew the NSA had found a vulnerability, it would presumably try to fix it.

Austin Berglas, a former FBI agent now at K2 Intelligence, told BuzzFeed the NSA might fear its help could end up being exposed in court. “There are capabilities that the U.S. government has, that are used for intelligence collecting only and that wouldn’t be used for a criminal matter because they would have to come up in open court.”

But Farook’s phone is unlikely to yield any useful evidence — and particularly unlikely to spark new legal proceedings.

And even in that case, courts have affirmed the NSA’s legal right to keep its investigative methods secret — if “acknowledging the existence or nonexistence of the requested material would reveal a function or an activity of the NSA.”

3. The NSA isn’t allowed to help.

The NSA’s mandate is to gather foreign intelligence while protecting U.S. secrets in the interests of national security.

But Liza Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said that’s never stopped the NSA from investigating at home before. “The NSA … has a very broad interpretation of what’s foreign intelligence — broad enough to collect American phone records,” she said.

And Thomson, the former prosecutor, told The Intercept, “I’m not aware of any law that would prohibit the NSA from providing technical assistance.”

In fact, the NSA has already helped with the San Bernardino case. Adm. Mike Rogers, the NSA’s chief, told Yahoo News that his agency successfully gathered metadata records for Farook’s phone — but not content.

Indeed, the separation between outward-facing and inward-facing intelligence agencies has blurred considerably over the past 15 years. Less than three years after 9/11, then-FBI Director Robert S. Mueller said the bureau was in a much better position to prevent terrorist attacks “because we coordinate much more closely and regularly with the CIA and NSA … because the legal wall between intelligence and law enforcement information has been eliminated.”

4. The FBI doesn’t want the NSA’s help.

The most cynical explanation for why the NSA hasn’t helped is that the FBI hasn’t really tried to get it to. “If they ask the NSA for help,” said Soghoian of the ACLU, “they don’t get the precedent they want.”

Though Comey told Congress that the FBI has “talked to anybody who will talk to us about it,” there’s little question that the FBI would rather force technology companies to develop these kinds of tools so that law enforcers across the country can use them, rather than have to ask the NSA for help on a case-by-case basis.

And while the FBI insists that the San Bernardino case isn’t about “sending a message” or establishing a legal precedent, law enforcers across the country have said this case could fundamentally change the way they investigate crime. Apple is currently fighting 12 other court cases where it’s resisting orders to unlock a phone — some of them very early generations of iPhones with operating systems that are much less secure.

The House Judiciary Committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. John Conyers, expressed concerns earlier this week that the government is exploiting the tragedy in San Bernardino to push its agenda on encryption while sidestepping congressional debate.

“I would be deeply disappointed if it turns out that the government is found to be exploiting a national tragedy to pursue a change in the law,” he said during a hearing on Tuesday.

Source: The Intercept  

Prism Paging

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PRISM IP MESSAGE GATEWAY

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THE ULTIMATE IN
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  • Call from anywhere — Prism SIP Gateway allows calls from PSTN and PBX
  • All the Features for Paging, Voice-mail, Text-to-Pager, Wireless and DECT phones
  • Prism Inet, the new IP interface for TAP, TNPP, SNPP, SMTP — Industry standard message input
  • Direct Connect to NurseCall, Assisted Living, Aged Care, Remote Monitoring, Access Control Systems

Product Support Services, Inc.

Repair and Refurbishment Services

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Product Support Services, Inc.

511 South Royal Lane
Coppell, Texas 75019
(972) 462-3970 Ext. 261
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PSSI is the industry leader in reverse logistics, our services include depot repair, product returns management, RMA and RTV management, product audit, test, refurbishment, re-kitting and value recovery.


Leavitt Communications

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

UNICATIONbendix king
ZETRON

motorola blue Motorola SOLUTIONS

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

Fire service pagers could be scrapped in favour of text messages

JENNIFER EDER
Last updated 05:00, February 28 2016


SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ
Blenheim Rural Fire Brigade officer Callun Mitchell says pagers are the best way to alert rural fire volunteers.

Rural firefighters with poor cellphone coverage are worried they will be late getting to major bush fires if their pager alerts are scrapped in favour of text messages.

The New Zealand Fire Service has put the pager network up for tender after Spark announced the network would close in 2017.

It is considering replacing the paging alert system with text messaging if the tender bid is unsuccessful, but this has some firefighters worried about poor cellphone reception.

Okiwi Bay Rural Fire Force chief fire officer Ian Montgomery — who has battled several large forest fires this summer — said emergency services in his remote patch of the Marlborough Sounds relied heavily on pagers because there was no cellphone reception.

The fires were fast moving and time-critical, Montgomery said.

"The quicker we can get there, the smaller they will be. In the past we've had fires that got near the road, and if we hadn't got our heads up very quickly from the pagers, the fire would have been too big to control by the time we got there."

There were several rural brigades in the South Island that worked in areas without cellphone reception, he said.

"Down the West Coast there are huge areas with no cellphone reception. There's lots of gaps. Around the Sounds there are big chunks that have got no reception. Pagers always work."

New Zealand Fire Service director of information and communication technology Murray Mitchell said there were 3500 rural volunteers across the country to consider when reviewing the pager network.

"We've got to make sure volunteers get appropriate notice of turn out. There's a whole range of options, sirens, texting, private paging, a range of things," Mitchell said.

Marlborough Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority principal fire officer Richard McNamara said moving to text alerts could mean having to improve the cellphone coverage in remote areas.

However, pagers were still viable and McNamara expected the tender process to be successful, he said.

"It's not just emergency services that use it. There are systems in the corporate world and hospitals that rely on paging. The market is there, it's just finding the right financial model."

There were disadvantages to pagers though, he said.

"It's one shot. If you happen to be in an area with no coverage, you're not going to get it. With a phone, if you're out of range and you come back in, you'll still get the message."

Mitchell said several companies had expressed an interest in taking over the network but would not confirm who they were.

A condition of the tender was that the network used the same pagers already being used by the Fire Service, he said.

The 111 call-centre would not be affected by a new network supplier because it operated independently, he said.

Tender proposals close on March 18.

Spark declined to comment.

— Sunday Star Times

Source: stuff.co.nz  

STI Engineering
 
sti header
 

250W VHF Paging Transmitter

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

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

sti tx
  • High power output
    (selectable from 20 W - 250 W)
  • SNMP Diagnostics and alarms
  • Full VHF Band coverage
    (138-174 MHz)
  • DSP precision modulation
  • Integrated isolator
  • Sniffer port for in-rack receiver
  • Remote firmware upgrade capability
  • Software selectable frequency offset
  • Adjustable absolute delay correction
  • Front panel diagnostics
  • Hardware alarm outputs
  • High frequency stability
  • External reference option
  • FCC and ACMA approved
  • CE compliant version in development
sti22 Boulder Road Malaga 6090 Western Australia
Telephone:  +61 8 9209 0900
Email:   sales@stiengineering.com.au
Facsimile:  +61 8 9248 2833
Web:   www.stiengineering.com.au

5 common SMS text scams, and how to avoid them

You can't trust every text message that crosses your phone.


Credit: Image: Ben Patterson

Lincoln Spector | @LincolnSpector
Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Something felt wrong as Madeline Prager exchanged texts with a stranger about an ad she posted on Craigslist. “I ultimately didn’t give him the information he asked for, but would it have been safe [to do so]?”

You have to be careful with texts, especially if you can’t be sure who sent them. They could be scams intended to steal your money or your information. Be particularly suspicious if they won’t talk to you (Madeline’s potential buyer had a text-only phone), or if they try to provoke sympathy (he claimed to be in the army and about to deploy).

Full disclosure: Madeline Prager is my wife.

Here are five common text traps you should look out for:

1. Buyer (and seller) beware: A business transaction with a total stranger is always risky. This is especially true if a party wants to conduct all business over text. Insist on talking over the phone (that’s what is was originally invented for). If you’ll be meeting in person, insist on cash (and have a friend with you). If possible meet outside of a local police station. If accepting payment online, insist on Paypal.

2. The bank trick: Your bank allegedly texts you with a problem that desperately needs to be solved. You’ll lose all of your money if you don’t immediately call the provided 800 number or click the link in the text. Then you have to provide all of your account information. Your account will be fixed alright, but not to your benefit.

Contact your bank, but not via the means in the text.

3. The dumb Samaritan: I’m all for giving money to those in need, but only if the money actually goes to the needy. If you get a text asking for help on behalf of others, delete it—even if it appears to come from a legitimate charity. Then go to that legitimate charity’s website and make your donation there.

4. Money for nothing but not for free: Everyone dreams about acquiring a fortune, and scammers can easily use those dreams against you (so can lotteries and casinos). If a stranger’s text offers you wealth as soon as you pay a small fee or give them your bank number, just tap delete. It’s the old Nigerian Scam in 160 characters or less.

5. Romancing the gullible: If you’re looking for love on dating sites, be careful of whomever seems interested. When you’re feeling lonely, a skilled con artist can expertly play on your emotions, convincing you to help them financially, or giving them personal information they could turn into profits.

Source: PCWorld  

Leavitt Communications

its stil here

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

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

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

black line

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

leavitt logo

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



Hark Technologies

hark logo

Wireless Communication Solutions


USB Paging Encoder

paging encoder

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

Paging Data Receiver (PDR)

pdr

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

Other products


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

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

Hark Technologies


Preferred Wireless

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Terminals & Controllers:
4ASC1500 Complete, w/Spares
3CNET Platinum Controllers
2GL3100 RF Director
1GL3000 ES — 2 Chassis — Configurable
1GL3000 L — 2 Cabinets, complete working, w/spares
35SkyData 8466 B Receivers
1Unipage — Many Unipage Cards & Chassis
10Zetron M66 Transmitter Controllers
10C2000s
15Glenayre Complete GPS Kits
1Glenayre QT6994, 150W, 900 MHz Link TX
3Motorola 10W, 900 MHz Link TX (C35JZB6106)
  
Link Transmitters:
6Glenayre QT4201 25W Midband Link TX
3Motorola 10W, 900 MHz Link TX (C35JZB6106)
1Motorola Q2630A, 30W, UHF Link TX
  
VHF Paging Transmitters:
19Motorola Nucleus 125W CNET
6Motorola Nucleus 350W CNET
11Motorola Nucleus 350W NAC
14Motorola Nucleus 125W NAC
1Glenayre QT7505
1Glenayre QT8505
3Glenayre QT-100C
  
UHF Paging Transmitters:
16Glenayre UHF GLT5340, 125W, DSP Exciter
  
900 MHz Paging Transmitters:
2Glenayre GLT8200, 25W (NEW)
15Glenayre GLT-8500 250W
4Glenayre GLT 8600, 500W
  
Parts:
 Nucleus Power Supplies
 Nucleus NIU, Matched Pairs
 Nucleus GPS Reference Modules
 Nucleus GPS Receivers
 Nucleus Chassis
 Glenayre 8500, PAs, PSs, DSP Exciters
 Glenayre VHF DSP Exciters

SEE WEB FOR COMPLETE LIST:

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Too Much To List • Call or E-Mail

Rick McMichael
Preferred Wireless, Inc.
Telephone: 888-429-4171
(If you are calling from outside of the USA, please use: 314-575-8425)
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BloostonLaw Newsletter

Selected portions of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, and/or the BloostonLaw Private Users Update — newsletters from the Law Offices of Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP — are reproduced in this section with the firm’s permission.


BloostonLaw Telecom UpdateVol. 19, No. 9March 2, 2016

International Bureau Reminds Circuit Capacity Holders of March 31 Reporting Deadline

On February 25, the FCC’s International Bureau (“Bureau”) issued a Public Notice reminding filers that data for the annual Circuit Capacity Reports are due no later than March 31, 2016. Section 43.62 of the Commission’s rules requires (1) any facilities-based common carrier with active satellite or terrestrial circuits between the United States and a foreign point, (2) any non-common carrier satellite licensee with active circuits between the United States and a foreign point, (3) any licensee of a submarine cable between the United States and a foreign point, and (4) any common carrier with capacity on a submarine cable between the United States and a foreign point providing international telecommunications services to file a Circuit Capacity Report if it had any activated or non-activated circuits as of December 31, 2015

Headlines


USF Reform Order Coming in March

An Order that significantly changes High Cost Support mechanisms for rural incumbent local exchanges carriers (“RLECs”) went on circulation among the FCC Commissioners on February 12, and already has the votes of the three Commissioners who devised and negotiated it (Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn and O’Rielly). It will not be adopted at an FCC Open Meeting, but rather will be released as part of the FCC Daily Digest after Commissioners Rosenworcel and Pai have had an opportunity to join, concur or dissent from it. The Order may be released as early as the week of March 7-to-11, and is virtually certain to be released before the FCC’s March 31 Open Meeting.

The Order will give RLECs a choice, on a statewide basis, of the following two “paths”: (1) opting into the Alternative Connect America Cost Model (“ACAM”), which will consist of a specific level of annual High Cost Support and specific broadband build-out obligations and schedules for ten (10) years (“Model Path”); or (2) remaining on a modified Rate-of-Return basis, with first-time support for stand-alone broadband service, but a reduced rate of return and broadband build-out obligations based upon Interstate Common Line Support (“ICLS”) (“RoR Path”). RLECs electing both paths face potential losses of support in Census Blocks served by qualified unsubsidized competitors.

The first part of the rate-of-return reduction for the RoR Path — from 11.25% to 11.00% — will become effective for the June 2016 tariff filings. The remainder of the Order will go into effect at a later date — with October 1, 2016 and January 1, 2017, being the most commonly mentioned dates.

Note that a “statewide” choice means just that. If an RLEC has several subsidiaries, affiliates and/or study areas in the same state, all must choose the same path and their ACAM support and obligations may be aggregated. If an RLEC has separate study areas in two states, it can choose a different path for each study area if it wishes.

Historical Note

The process leading to the Order began on April 16, 2015, when Chairman Wheeler’s office and Commissioner O’Rielly invited NTCA, WTA, ITTA and USTelecom to a meeting, and tasked them with negotiating a plan for “Universal Service Fund Reform” within the next thirty (30) days. The initial Association negotiations were complex. The Associations rapidly agreed to a two-path approach, but had difficulties with the specifics of each path. The Model Path was plagued by a gap between those who wanted to opt into a certain level of support as soon as possible, and those who found the ACAM to be grossly inaccurate. A compromise proposal to have two opt-in periods, and to revise the ACAM to make it more accurate during the interim, got no traction at the FCC. The RoR Path was hampered by the FCC staff’s objections to the Digital Connection Service (i.e., stand-alone broadband) proposal of NTCA, WTA and NECA, and by budget concerns. A compromise proposal to support broadband-only lines via the existing High Cost Loop Support (“HCLS”) and ICLS mechanisms was rejected by Commissioner O’Rielly and others.

The Associations then spent much of the Summer and Fall of 2015 trying to make the FCC’s proposed “Bifurcated Approach” work — an approach that would have split ROR regulation and support between investment made before a date certain (probably, January 1, 2016) and after that date certain. When modification after modification, and run after run, indicated that the Bifurcated Approach would substantially and inexplicably disrupt the operations of many RLECs without encouraging the desired increased broadband deployment, the FCC finally gave up on the approach in early January (although some FCC staff members appear to blame the RLEC industry for the failure of the FCC-proposed approach). Then, the day after Commissioner Pai criticized the FCC’s lack of action on broadband deployment at the FCC’s January Open Meeting, Chairman Wheeler called the presidents of NTCA and USTelecom to a meeting, told them he was sick of the delays, spelled out a harsh FCC alternative plan (including a reduction of the RLEC rate of return to 7%), and gave them a week to come up with an acceptable alternative. The next week was spent negotiating with the Chairman’s office (which wanted a lower rate of return percentage), Commissioner Clyburn’s Office (which wanted substantial reductions of RLEC High Cost Support in Census Blocks served by an unsubsidized competitor), and Commissioner O’Rielly’s Office (which wanted substantial broadband build-out obligations for RLECs on the RoR Path, even if they were receiving no additional support).

Notwithstanding some trade press and newsletter articles, neither NTCA nor USTelecom (nor WTA, which worked closely with the other Associations) proposed or agreed to the provisions of the forthcoming Order. Rather, their role was more one of damage control, trying to improve or alleviate as much as possible some of the more harmful proposed measures. This negotiation was very difficult because each of the three Offices had its own favored proposal, so that it was very difficult to use concessions in one of the three areas to improve the provisions in another.

At this time, the Order will need to be read and analyzed before we can know what exactly is in it. In the past, Orders produced in such a rapid manner have had unforeseen gaps and adverse consequences. The following is a best guess as to some more significant components of the Order.

Model Path

The FCC released another interim version of the ACAM results for each study area in February. Another version, which will incorporate unsubsidized competitor data from the June 2015 FCC Form 477 data, will be released within the coming months. The FCC staff has indicated that there may be a brief challenge process during which RLECs may be able to reduce the number of “competitive Census Blocks” that the FCC has removed from ACAM support and build-out calculations, but that such challenge process will be brief and uncomplicated (whatever that means; clearly it will not be as detailed as the 2015 challenge process for study areas that were 100% overlapped).

The FCC previously removed Census Blocks served by fiber to the home and cable modems from the areas eligible for ACAM support. It is also likely to declare that study areas with substantial existing 10/1 broadband service (not yet clear whether the standard will be 85%, 90% or 95% of the study area) are not eligible to opt into the Model Path.

The FCC appears to have decided to make $150 million per year of additional support from the CAF Reserve available to those opting into the Model Path as an incentive to do so.

At some time after the ACAM is finalized ( i.e., all FCC Form 477 data is incorporated and challenges resolved), the FCC will release a final Model Path run with each study area’s annual ACAM support and ten-year build-out obligations specified. RLECs will then have ninety (90) days to opt onto the Model Path. If the total incremental annual support (Model support, less existing support) of those opting onto the Model Path is $150 million or less, the opt-in elections are final. If the total incremental support of those opting onto the Model Path is greater that $150 million, the FCC will revise downward each electing RLEC’s ACAM support and ten-year build-out obligation, and issue a revised Public Notice setting forth the new amounts. The previously electing RLECs will then have thirty (30) days to decide whether to remain on the Model Path or withdraw to the RoR Path. Note to clients interested in the Model Path: it will be very useful to have a reliable estimate of the build-out costs to your unserved and underserved locations that are likely to be included in your ACAM obligations (including some cushion if fiber and construction costs increase significantly when many other large and small carriers are deploying broadband at the same time), so that you can react quickly and reasonably to opportunities to opt onto and out of the Model Path.

The FCC has made it clear than all RLECs opting onto the Model Path (even those electing a Glide Path that will give them less High Cost support than they are currently receiving) will have broadband build-out obligations. Model Path participants will have to deploy at least 10/1 broadband speeds to all locations, and 25/3 broadband speeds in certain high-density areas. For locations that are more expensive than the per-location support provided by the Model Path, recipients will be required to provide 4/1 broadband service.

RLECs opting onto the Model Path may remain under rate of return regulation for special access.

Rate of Return Path

Those electing the RoR Path will continue to receive support from the existing HCLS and ICLS mechanisms. The ICLS mechanism will also contain a new sub-mechanism that will support broadband-only service above a $42.00 per month benchmark. At some point later this year (possibly October 1), stand-alone broadband costs will be required to be removed from special access, and put into a new into new Broadband Customer Loop category.

HCLS and ICLS will be affected by: (1) a Capital Budget Mechanism that limits investments on the basis of a carrier’s accumulated depreciation; and (2) an Operating Expense Limitation that limits recoverable operating expenses more than 1.5 standard deviations above an “ideal” expense level based upon a double logarithmic formula including density and other variables. RLECs affected by the Operating Expense Limitation will have a two-year transition during which their supported operating expenses are reduced 50 percent of the way to the limit during the first year and all the way during the second year.

The rate of return for RLECs is going to be reduced during a six-year transition period from 11.25% to 9.75% (a 0.25% decrease per year), beginning as of July 1, 2016. This reduction will apply to interstate RLEC rates and mechanisms, such as universal service support and special access. However, because the CAF-ICC mechanism is based upon 2011 baseline revenues, it does not appear to be affected.

The build-out obligations for the RoR Path are still somewhat sketchy. The FCC would not listen to arguments that HCLS and ICLS support are for past investment and expenses, and should not be used for future investment. The one thing that appears clear is that the ROR Path build-out obligation will be based upon some specified portion of the ICLS support received by the RLEC (remember that ICLS will be increasing to accommodate stand-alone broadband support). The FCC appears to be interested in taking the dollars from this ICLS percentage, dividing them by a “cost per location” factor determined by surveys of RLEC construction costs in several density groups, in order to compute the minimum additional locations that each RLEC will be required to build-out at 10/1 broadband speeds during a five-year period.

The unsubsidized competitor provisions for the RoR Path also remain somewhat unclear. They will affect ICLS support only, and will potentially eliminate ICLS support in Census Blocks that are served 85 percent by a qualified unsubsidized competitor. There will be a challenge process, but the FCC staff is reluctant to have it be very detailed or time-consuming. The Associations submitted a substantial list of criteria and requirements that an alleged unsubsidized competitor must meet in order to be deemed “qualified.” It is not clear yet which and how many of these standards the FCC will adopt. The FCC is also considering at least four options for disaggregation of the costs of RLECs that lose ICLS support in one or more Census Blocks due to the presence of qualified unsubsidized competitors.

Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

The Order is also likely to contain a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that is expected to: (a) seek comment on ways to clarify or define categories of expenses that can be included in USF support and the regulated rate base; (b) consider additional methods of disaggregation; (c) evaluate ways to make the Rate of Return process more efficient (including NECA involvement and FCC reporting burdens; and (d) review and revise rules on cost allocations and affiliate transactions.

O’Rielly Believes Incentive Auction will Start on On-Time; Bidding May Extend into Fall

In remarks this week at an NAB State Leadership Conference, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said that he believes the Incentive Auction will remain on schedule to begin March 29th and that complexities associated with this first-of-its-kind auction could result in bidding that extends through the summer and into the fall.

After praising the “many wonderful broadcasters at the Country Radio Seminar,” O’Rielly went into a discussion of FCC matters important to broadcasters. With respect to the Incentive Auction, O’Rielly observed that the auction was scheduled to begin in about one month and that Chairman Wheeler “seems committed to this timeframe.”

“Watching him as I have,” said O’Rielly, “I doubt either he or the auction team will be inclined to move this date.”

The only thing that O’Rielly sees as having a realistic possibility of disrupting the current auction timeline is “an official and substantiated request from a significant party that, absent a delay, a successful auction could be in jeopardy.” It is unclear whether he may be suggesting that such a filing is on the way, or if he is suggesting that broadcasters who want the auction delayed might follow that strategy. However, he said he was “rooting for success” and hoped that the incentive auction would be “exceptionally bountiful to participating broadcasters.”

O’Rielly did not specifically mention the LPTV industry in his remarks, but it is well known that certain Class A-eligible LPTV interests (specifically, The Videohouse, Fifth Street Enterprises, LLC, and WMTM, LLC) have an active case before the DC Court of Appeals seeking to overturn an FCC ruling which focused on their secondary status and said the companies weren’t eligible to participate in the reverse auction. The DC Circuit recently dismissed a petition for mandamus filed by Videohouse, but it also agreed to a hearing schedule in the case that won’t be close to being completed before the current March 29 start date for the auction. Because commencement of the auction without the Videohouse appellants participating would leave them empty handed, we strongly expect their next move would be to file an emergency petition for stay of the auction. This raises the possibility that the auction could be delayed by the court. However, Commissioner O’Rielly doesn’t seem to believe the court will rule in LPTV’s favor.

Separately, a Latina-owned LPTV licensee whose request to participate in the auction provisionally was denied by the FCC last Thursday (Latina Broadcasters of Daytona Beach, LLC or “Latina”) is before the DC Circuit seeking to block the auction if it is not allowed to participate. That proceeding is moving very quickly. Latina filed an emergency motion for stay with the Court last Friday, and the DC Circuit on the same day issued an Order setting a deadline of Noon on Friday, March 4th, for the FCC to file its response to the emergency motion. Latina will then have the weekend to work on a reply filing, which will be due by 9:00 am on Monday, March 7th.

In his speech to NAB, O’Rielly suggested that a court decision “could waylay the auction timing, but that seems like a heavy lift at this point.” However, is unclear whether this opinion was limited to handicapping the Videohouse appeal, or whether he was aware of the possibility of Latina’s separate challenge. The FCC could seemingly moot any threat to a timely auction by allowing Latina to participate in the auction provisionally, consistent with its recent request.

The Republican commissioner also told broadcasters that the Commission was likely to be in the midst of this auction “for most of the summer and perhaps into the fall.” Buckle your seat belts…

With respect to restricting forward auction eligibility in certain markets, O’Rielly also noted his ongoing concerns about the spectrum reserve, which he has previously viewed as “corporate welfare for companies that don’t need the government’s assistance,” and that will likely lead to reduced auction revenues. He observed that the spectrum reserve would provide assistance to a well-financed company like Comcast (which is listed in the top 50 of the Fortune 500), and he speculated that a multi-billion dollar hedge fund might enter the auction and seek to flip licenses in the future.

“How philanthropic of the American people to bestow such benefits,” criticized O’Rielly. “Every dollar that is spent on the reserve, rather than through a completely open and fair auction, will depress the ultimate value of broadcast stations for participating and non-participating broadcasters.”

O’Rielly also noted NAB’s concerns over whether 39 months will be sufficient to repack the remaining broadcasters and whether the overall budget of $1.75 billion would be sufficient. Wireless carriers have disagreed with this assertion. In this regard, T-Mobile USA recently made a 400+ page ex parte filing in conjunction with two broadcast engineering firms who concluded that the Commission’s 39-month transition timeframe was feasible within the $1.75 billion budget set by Congress.

“In my opinion, these concerns are unlikely to be considered and addressed until the Commission and Congress can examine the lay of the land post auction,” said O’Rielly.

Comment Date Set on FCC Notice of Inquiry on Video Programming Diversity

Previously, BloostonLaw reported on the FCC's Notice of Inquiry seeking comment on “the principal challenges independent video programmers face in gaining carriage of their content on both traditional and emerging distribution platforms.” (See BloostonLaw Telecom Update Feb. 24, 2016). Comments on the NOI are due on March 30, 2016 and reply comments are due on April 19, 2016.

Although the NOI is largely focused on issues that independent video programmers face in gaining carriage of their programming, the NOI also seeks comment on the practice and impact of bundling by large media entities that force MVPDs to carry less desirable content. According to the FCC, some parties claim that large media entities "leverage their marquee programming ( e.g., premium channels or regional sports programming) to force MVPDs to carry additional channels that have little or no consumer demand," which limits programming choices and raises costs for consumers and displaces independent and diverse programming. The FCC also states that "some parties have claimed that programmers impose an extra charge on MVPDs for subscriber access to their online programming," and that this "has the potential to drain resources that might otherwise be devoted to carriage of independent programming."

The FCC seeks comment on the pervasiveness of these practices and the impact of bundling practices. Among other things, the FCC asks whether "smaller MVPDs feel the constraints of bundling more acutely than large MVPDs because of their limited capacity or limited resources". The FCC also asks whether bundling benefits consumers by lowering prices.

The NOI also invites comment on other issues, including:

  • Contractual provisions often contained in program carriage agreements, such as most favored nation (MFN) and alternative distribution method (ADM) clauses;
  • Distribution via over the top (OTT) platforms, and the costs and benefits of foregoing MVPD carriage to pursue OTT carriage;
  • Negotiation tactics alleged to be common among MVPDs that may impede the ability of independent programmers to obtain carriage; and
  • Claims that MVPDs discriminate against public, educational or government access (PEG) programming by failing to make PEG programming, and information about this programming, adequately available to subscribers.

Please contact the firm if you are experiencing issues in connection with these topics and would like to participate in the proceeding.

FCC Seeks Comment on Consumer Signal Boosters

On February 29, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“Bureau”) issued a Public Notice seeking comment on “additional technologies that may enhance the interference-mitigating features of signal boosters” the FCC adopted in its February 20, 2013 Signal Boosters Report and Order. Comments are due March 30, 2016 and reply comments are due April 14, 2016.

Specifically, the Bureau is seeking comment on:

  • The performance and effectiveness of new consumer signal boosters;
  • Whether additional safeguards are necessary, and if so:
    • a description of the safeguard;
    • whether it can be implemented using existing network infrastructure, or else a description of how wireless networks would need to be modified;
    • a description of the benefits and costs of the safeguard;
    • if the safeguard is being developed or has not yet been developed, a description of the steps and timing necessary to deploy the safeguard;
    • a description of the effects on consumers and manufacturers of implementing the safeguard;
    • what regulatory steps, if any, would be needed to implement the safeguard; and
    • an indication of whether the safeguard relies on patented technology, and if so, the identity of the patent holder.
  • The effectiveness of the consumer signal booster registration system put in place by wireless providers;
  • The effectiveness of the Commission’s enforcement efforts; and
  • Any other related issues regarding consumer signal boosters.

According to the Public Notice, comments filed in this proceeding will “inform whether further action” in the signal booster rulemaking proceeding is warranted.

Law & Regulation


Senate Releases Report on White House Interference with FCC’s Net Neutrality Order

On February 29, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released a report titled “Regulating the Internet: How the White House Bowled Over FCC Independence,” which according to a press release details “how the FCC arrived at its decision to regulate the Internet like a public utility only after the president called for such a heavy-handed regime and how, in the process, career FCC staff raised serious administrative law questions about the shift.”

Allegations in the report include:

  • Prior to the White House’s announcement in support of Title II reclassification, the career, professional staff at the FCC worked over a weekend to deliver Chairman Tom Wheeler a draft Open Internet Order, adopting the “hybrid approach,” to be considered on the FCC’s December 2014 Open Meeting. Immediately after the president’s statement, FCC staff expressed confusion as edits were suddenly delayed and the rapid timetable for completing the draft Open Internet Order was “paused.” At the conclusion of the pause, Wheeler instructed FCC staff to change course and draft an order that would follow the president’s proposal of a Title II reclassification.
  • The FCC staff raised concerns about the agency following proper notice-and-comment procedure, as required under the APA. Specifically, the FCC’s career professional staff advised that the record to support Title II reclassification for both fixed and wireless broadband was thin and needed to be bolstered. Despite this recommendation, the FCC chose not to seek additional public comment, and proceeded with the president’s preferred policy outcome.
  • Over the course of the committee’s investigation, the FCC refused to provide key responsive documents. Moreover, in the emails that were provided to the committee, it appears that there was an attempt by some to thwart transparency and avoid ex parte filings.

The report can be found here . Appendices can be found here, Appendix A , Appendix B , Appendix C .

House Energy and Commerce Approves Small Business Broadband Bill

On February 25, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 4596, also known as the Small Business Broadband Deployment Act. The bipartisan legislation, which was authored by Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), seeks to protect small businesses from the enhanced transparency requirements included in the FCC’s recent Open Internet Order.

As originally drafted, the bill acted as a permanent exemption to the enhanced transparency requirements. However, a bipartisan amendment offered by Walden and Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA) was also approved adding a five year sunset to the exemption language. The amendment also changed the definition used in the bill for “small business” from “not more than (A) 1,500 employees or (B) 500,000 subscribers” to “not more than 250,000 subscribers.” In adopting the rules, the FCC used 100,000 subscribers as the exemption threshold.

Readers will recall that the FCC took heavy criticism when it extended the existing exemption back in December 2015 for one year. 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).

Senator Introduces “Restoring Internet Freedom” Act

On February 25, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Restoring Internet Freedom Act, which would repeal the Federal Communication Commission's net neutrality rules and prevent the agency from promulgating similar rules in the future.

The bill is extremely specific:

The rule adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in GN Docket No. 14–28 on February 26, 2015 (relating to broadband Internet access service) shall have no force or effect, and the Commission may not reissue such rule in substantially the same form, or issue a new rule that is substantially the same as such rule, unless the reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of enactment of this Act.

“The economic burden of these regulations will fall squarely on the backs of the consumers the FCC purports to help,” Lee said. “The threat of anticompetitive behavior should always be taken seriously. But it makes no sense for a five-person panel of presidential appointees to write a sweeping law aimed at solving a problem that might someday exist. There are more effective, more democratic, and less intrusive ways to address anticompetitive behavior, including existing antitrust and consumer-protection laws,” Lee continued.

Comment Sought on Vonage Application for Direct VoIP Numbering

On February 29, the FCC issued a Public Notice establishing a streamlined pleading cycle on the interconnected VoIP numbering authorization application filed by Vonage Holdings Corp, seeking authorization to obtain North American Numbering Plan telephone numbers directly from the Numbering Administrators. Comments are due March 15, 2016.

The application has been found, upon initial review, to be acceptable for filing as a streamlined application. As such, unless otherwise notified by the FCC, the application will be deemed granted and Vonage may provide the states in which it intends to request numbers the required 30-day notice on the 31st day after the date of the Public Notice.

Industry


NY Court Holds Apple Need Not Unlock Phone for FBI

Two weeks ago, the BloostonLaw Telecom Update reported that a federal magistrate judge in California ordered iPhone maker Apple to help the FBI break into the cell phone of one of the shooters involved in the San Bernadino attack of December 2, 2015, in which Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people in a Dec. 2 shooting at a holiday luncheon for Farook's co-workers. This week, a New York magistrate judge ruled that Apple could not be forced to provide the FBI with access to a locked iPhone's data in a Brooklyn drug case.

Specifically, the Drug Enforcement Administration had seized the iPhone 5 of Jun Feng, who pleaded guilty in October to drug charges. Both the DEA and FBI were unable to overcome Apple’s security measures, and filed a motion seeking an order requiring Apple to assist the investigation under the authority of the “All Writs Act” — the same law the FBI is invoking in the San Bernardino case. “The implications of the government’s position are so far-reaching — both in terms of what it would allow today and what it implies about congressional intent in 1789 [the year the All Writs Act was adopted] — as to produce impermissibly absurd results,” wrote Magistrate Judge James Orenstein, noting later that, “the government has to date successfully invoked the [All Writs Act] to secure Apple’s compelled assistance in bypassing the passcode security of Apple devices at least 70 times in the past; it has pending litigation in a dozen more cases in which Apple has not yet been forced to provide such assistance…”

Although the New York order is not binding on the California court or other courts considering similar issues, it still marks a victory for Apple going forward.

Deadlines


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) support 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.

MAY 31: FCC FORM 395, EMPLOYMENT REPORT. Common carriers, including wireless carriers, with 16 or more full-time employees must file their annual Common Carrier Employment Reports (FCC Form 395) by May 31. This report tracks carrier compliance with rules requiring recruitment of minority employees. Further, the FCC requires all common carriers to report any employment discrimination complaints they received during the past year. That information is also due on June 1. The FCC encourages carriers to complete the discrimination report requirement by filling out Section V of Form 395, rather than submitting a separate report.

Calendar At-A-Glance


March
Mar. 3 – Reply comments on Primary/Secondary Channel Sharing NPRM are due.
Mar. 7 – Reply comments are due on USTA Petition on Dominant Carrier Presumption.
Mar. 7 – Reply comments are due on Accessible User Interface NPRM.
Mar. 9 – Reply comments are due on 911/E911 Fees and Charges Report.
Mar. 15 – Comments are due on Vonage Direct VoIP Numbering Application.
Mar. 21 – Comments are due on AM Revitalization FNPRM.
Mar. 21 – Comments are due on ORBIT Act Report.
Mar. 30 – Comments are due on Video Programming Diversity NOI.
Mar. 30 – Comments are due on Consumer Signal Boosters Public Notice.
Mar. 31 – FCC Form 525 (Delayed Phasedown CETC Line Counts) is due.
Mar. 31 – FCC Form 508 (ICLS Projected Annual Common Line Requirement) is due.
Mar. 31 – International Circuit Capacity Report is due.

April
Apr. 1 – FCC Form 499-A (Annual Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet) is due.
Apr. 1 – Annual Accessibility Certification is due.
Apr. 4 – Reply comments are due on ORBIT Act Report.
Apr. 14 – Reply comments are due on Consumer Signal Boosters Public Notice.
Apr. 18 – Reply comments are due on AM Revitalization FNPRM.
Apr. 19 – Reply comments are due on Video Programming Diversity NOI.

May
May 1 – FCC Form 499-Q (Quarterly Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet) is due.
May 31 – FCC Form 395 (Annual Employment Report) is due.


BloostonLaw Private Users UpdateVol. 17 SupplementMarch 2016

FCC SENDING EMAILS REMINDING PRIVATE RADIO LICENSEES TO DELETE WIDEBAND DESIGNATOR FROM THEIR LICENSES

As we reported in our January Private User Update, the FCC is trying to clean up its license database and ensure that all Part 90 150-174 MHz (VHF) and 421-470 MHz (UHF) licensees are in compliance with the FCC’s narrowbanding mandate that was effective January 1, 2013. To that end, the FCC is requiring the removal of wideband emissions from all Part 90 VHF and UHF licenses before further action such as a license renewal, license modification or license transfer can be approved. We also reported that the FCC would be sending emails to licensees that still have a wideband emission designator showing on their license. We have been advised by various clients that this email process has started.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU: For our office clients that have a license retainer arrangement with us, we have already been systematical updating your licenses to delete the wide-band emission as part of the license renewal process. In accordance with the FCC’s new procedures that became effective February 16, 2016, we have expanded this practice to all applications, including Administrative Updates, Modifications as well as Assignments of License and Transfers of Control. Therefore, the next filing of any sort that we do on your behalf will remove the wideband designator. There is no coordination or additional filing fee required for removal of the wideband designator (although the usual coordination and filing fees would apply for the underlying license modification that is being accomplished in the same filing).

IN OTHER WORDS, DO NOT PANIC IF YOU RECEIVE SUCH EMAIL FROM THE FCC. SO LONG AS YOU HAVE DEPLOYED NARROWBAND EQUIPMENT AS REQUIRED, AND HAVE BOTH THE NARROWBAND DESIGNATOR AND WIDEBAND DESIGNATOR ON YOUR LICENSE, WE HAVE VERIFIED WITH THE FCC’S SENIOR STAFF THAT THE ACCEPTABLE PRACTICE IS TO REMOVE THE WIDEBAND DESIGNATOR VIA YOUR NEXT FCC FILING.

As you may recall, in the months leading up to the 2013 narrowbanding deadline, we added the narrowband emission designator to our clients’ licenses (such as “11K2F1D, 11K2F3E, 7K2F1D”), rather than changing the wideband designator to narrowband, because this approach gave our clients all the way up to the deadline to install their new narrowband equipment.

Thus, your license ended up showing BOTH the wideband and narrowband emission designators. Per advice from the FCC, we have been deleting the wideband designator as part of your next renewal application. The FCC’s latest announcement comes as frequency coordinators grow anxious to identify new channels they can assign in the wake of the narrowbanding process.

IF YOUR LICENSE SHOWS ONLY A WIDEBAND EMISSION DESIGNATOR: Effective February 16, 2016, the FCC is with-holding action on all Part 90 VHF and UHF applications that only list a wide-band emission. As a result, the FCC will dismiss all Administrative Update, Modification (including Renewal/Modification) and Assignment of License and Transfer of Control applications unless the applicant takes corrective action, by either changing the wideband designator to the appropriate narrowband designator, or by demonstrating that the station equipment meets the efficiency standard that justifies continued wideband operation or that a valid waiver the January 1, 2013 narrowbanding mandate is in place. IF YOUR LICENSE SHOWS ONLY THE WIDEBAND DESIGNA-TOR (such as “20K0F3E, 20K0F1D, 20K0F2D, 15K0F1D”) AND DOES NOT ALSO SHOW A NARROWBAND DESIGNA-TOR (such as “11K2F1D, 11K2F3E, 7K2F1D”), PLEASE CONTACT US RIGHT AWAY.

Enforcement Considerations

We would like to remind our clients that absent a valid waiver of the January 1, 2013 narrowband mandate, any actual operation of Part 90 VHF and UHF systems in a wide-band mode on non-paging channels is a violation of the FCC’s rules that could result in the imposition of significant fines and forfeitures or license revocation.

Please let our office know if you have any questions.

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

BlackBerry's Priv Android phone comes to Verizon

The keyboard-packing device is now available on every big US network but Sprint.

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
1March 4, 2016

For power Android users who need a physical keyboard, one of the few devices left is the BlackBerry Priv . Until now, it could only be found on AT&T and T-Mobile, but it's now available on Verizon, the biggest network in the US — for a price. While it costs as little as $700 or so unlocked, Big Red is selling it for $720 sans contract, or a hefty $30 per month over two years. However, it means that BlackBerry's first and only Android device (so far) is now available to over 80 percent of US subscribers, with just Sprint missing from the big four.

We liked the Priv overall, but its appeal is limited to BlackBerry fans. For the same sum, you could get a brand new Galaxy S7, a device that will handily outperform it. Plus, we were actually disappointed with the keyboard itself, if you compare it to those on previous BlackBerry models. Now that it's broadly available, it will be interesting to see if enough people really want a keyboard and the extra security in the Priv. If not, it could spell the end of BlackBerry handsets, which first arrived in 2003 as the original smartphones. CEO John Chen said he may kill all devices if they don't turn a profit this year.


*Verizon has acquired AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.

Source: engadget  

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

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

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

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

From:Day, Steven G.
Subject:Jay Kitchen?
Date:March 3, 2016 at 6:25:00 AM CST
To:Brad Dye

Did you miss this? I certainly did.

I first met him thru NABER. Wonderful person!

You certainly knew him too?

Steven G. Day
Communications Engineer
Department of Information Technology
Prince William County Government
3 County Complex Ct. EA 703
Woodbridge, VA 22192
sday@pwcgov.org
(703) 792-6758 OFF.
(571) 437-9058 Cell


Obituary

Mr. Emmett Jay Kitchen, Jr.
Born: May 1, 1945
Died: December 13, 2015
Location: Placida, Florida

Tribute & Message From The Family


Jay Kitchen

Emmett Benjamin Kitchen Jr. (Jay) 70, of Alexandria, Virginia and Palm Island, Florida died on December 13, 2015 at his Palm Island home under the care of Tidwell Hospice in his home with his loving devoted wife Kim and his caretaker and friend David Farrall. Jay battled Parkinson's disease for 16 years. He was born in Washington D.C., May 1, 1945 to the late Virginia and Ben Kitchen of Silver Spring, Maryland.

Jay was a graduate of Virginia Technological University with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He started his career at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and served as a Wireless Telecom Policy Adviser. Jay was President/CEO of the National Association of Business and Educational Radio (NABER) and President/CEO of Personal Communications Industry Association (PCIA). Jay was a Fellow of the Radio Club of America and a past member of their board. He retired from the Wireless Industry after 36 years. In 2007 Jay was inducted into the The Wireless History Foundation “Hall of Fame.”

Jay lived life to the fullest, traveling the globe, scuba diving, skiing and had a passion for trains, both large and small, from the garden scale to the real thing.

Jay is survived by his loving wife Dr. Kim Ierna Kitchen of Alexandria, Va., his sister Kay (Ray) Robinson, two sons, Lee and Bryan (Shannon) Kitchen, four grandchildren, Benjamin, Morgan, Zoe, and Logan Kitchen, in-laws, Joseph and Gloria Ierna, sister in-laws, Karen, Cindy and Nicola Ierna, and brother-in-laws Todd and Joseph Ierna.

There will be a Celebration of Life on January 16, 2016 from 1-3 PM at Mount Vernon Country Club, 5111 Old Mill Rd., Alexandria, Va., 22309 and in Palm Island, Florida on Jan.2, 2016. Donations may be made to Ocean Crest Alliance at www.oceancrestalliance.org .


Source: http://www.tributes.com/obituary/print_selections/103107315?type=1


From:Dietmar Gollnick
Subject: The Wireless Messaging News
Date:March 4, 2015
To:Brad Dye

Hello, Dear Brad,

I did not know—far away over the ocean—about this article you named “anti-paging.” After your—compliment to your fair journalist attitude—link I had a look at the HIMMS publication. And—it seemed me that this has been written 10 years ago. Why?

Some “local European” (only ?) remarks and examples:

After one of the unthinkable largest school shootings in Germany in one larger state this state decided by decision of parliament to take paging as a basis for around 6,000 school directors information system (2011). One of the reasons: bad experiences with cellular telephony around the terrible and very sad event.

In a time of higher safety and security requirements in one of the nicest and most proud cities of the world Paris Firemen decided first time to rely on our paging services (new customer since December 2015).

Day before yesterday I had the pleasure to speak at 3rd Conference “Critical Infrastructure Protection and Resilience in Europe” in The Hague, Netherlands. With a lot of supporting international organisations. Presentation I send you by this mail. It was taken by the delegates “as to the point.”

To come back to the HIMMS paper: Do they know about risks to relay (even more only) on cellular mobile phone targeted infrastructure? Are they convinced that mankind needs doctors and firemen ... even knowing that far away not everybody needs them every day, but if we need we really need ... Such case we have with paging ... at least.

By the way: One interesting other speaker at The Hague Critical Infrastructure Protection Conference was Fred Ruonavar, chief of the appropriate branch in Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), USA. I had the impression that our two presentations in a good manner complemented each other partially.

I repeat my question: The HIMMS publication has been from this decade or more from the last one?

Time to wake up!

Very best regards,

Dietmar Gollnick
Geschäftsführer: Dr. Dietmar Gollnick, Sitz d. Gesellschaft: Berlin,
Handelsregister: HRB 75982 beim Amtsgericht Berlin, USt.-IDNr.: DE221167301


Of further interest:

https://www.energiewende2016.com

https://www.energiewende2016.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/BETD_Guided_Tour_Innovations.pdf


From:Jason Brown
Subject:Pagers
Date:March 2, 2016 at 7:21:42 PM CST
To:Brad Dye

Hi Brad. I love your website and your newsletters. I have been going to your website for many years. I appreciate you providing your website to people on the Internet.

I tried using cell phones and I found that they gave me a lot of trouble, grief, and problems. So I went back to using an alphanumeric pager. I am just as happy as can be with my pager and my paging service. They never give me any trouble.

People think pagers are extinct, they are obsolete technology from the 1990's, and they were replaced by cell phones. The two local paging companies in my community are doing a booming business of providing pagers and paging service to large facilities here for on-site paging such as the two local hospitals. The “Pager” article in Wikipedia says “The U.S. paging industry generated $2.1 billion in revenue in 2008” and “In Canada, 161,500 Canadians paid $18.5 million for pager service in 2013.”

Another website says "According to the CEA, in 2012 Americans bought approximately $7 million worth of new pagers — See more at:

http://www.laptopmag.com/articles/12-outdated-technologies-refuse-to-die

Someone said on the Internet that pager technology has not advanced since the 1990's.

I'm glad. I love pagers just the way the are. I don't want them to become more complicated, more difficult to use, and more troublesome, which comes with advancements in digital technology.

Gough Lui of Sydney, Australia has an excellent article about paging technology and the old Motorola Advisor pager at this address:

http://goughlui.com/2016/01/15/tech-flashback-motorola-advisor-pocsag-5121200bps-pager/

He has another great article about the Apollo AL-924 pager, which is the one I have, at this address:

http://goughlui.com/2016/01/24/tech-flashback-gold-apollo-al-924-t-synthesized-pocsag-pagers/

Bye for now.

Jason Brown
abilenian@outlook.com


From:Ron Mayes
Subject: The Wireless Messaging News
Date:February 26, 2016
To:Brad Dye

Brad,

Just finished reading your newsletter and the article about TigerText sales saying their cellular phone app is cheaper than Pagers left me ROFLOL {Rolling on the floor laughing out loud}. OK maybe not totally on the floor cause it’s hard to get up at our age. But it did sound to me like a lot of the political stuff being said in this current presidential election debates.

My take is pretty basic. Current Technology companies always try to compare their application on a cellular phone or Wi-Fi phone device in Hospitals as being “better” than Paging. They have to do this because they want the business and the money that goes with it. Thus the motivation of this article is skewed tremendously and not fully revealing. What the articles author fail to understand is that pagers are technically more reliable for the single purpose they represent “instant one way message or alert” to an individual or group of people, nothing more, nothing less. It is a communications tool that is more economical and efficient to use than any other device available to meet that purpose. The idea that you can have their software enhancement to the phone for a mere $5.00 per unit doesn’t represent the true cost involved. A cellular phone costs more than a pager and has limited useful life before becoming obsolete, and the cellular service bill of way more than $9.00 for a pager, and finally the cost of cellular BDA’s that will be needed in the hospital buildings to be sure their phone gets signal costs a lot. True there is a benefit to such apps on the phone and everyone would like for one device to do everything to meet their needs, IE smart phone. However, such newer technology is ever found to be cheaper and seldom proven more reliable than paging or pagers. I always keep in mind the budget is a key part of the decision maker process which is generally an IT person who thinks newer is always better, Paging is more economical for what it delivers in benefits.

I admit I’m biased. As a professional wireless communications specialist I try to use the sales process of finding a customer’s “NEED” and filling it. IE Problem solving. Thus, I represent Paging, Pagers, Two Way radios, Wi-Fi networking, and cellular BDA’s or DAS systems. Previously sold cellular phones. So when I see these limited reviews of Paging benefits vs new technology I recognize the misdirection motive for what it is. But then I do remember people buying some cellular phones because they liked the color.

Keep the wireless news coming!

Ron Mayes
President
Advantage Communications
P. O. Box 964
Andover, KS 67002
www.advcom.net
ron@advcom.net
316-264-5005


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THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Reality

“Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.”

Frank Herbert, Dune


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Astronomers just saw farther back in time than they ever have before

Hubble Space Telescope image shows the Galaxy GN-z11, shown in the inset, 13.4 billion light years away from Earth.

A note on time and distance: Light years are a measure of distance — how far light can travel in a year. But cases like this, they are an indicator of age. Since the light from GN-z11 has traveled 13.4 billion years to reach us, that means it’s been traveling for 13.4 billion years, so its source must be 13.4 billion years old.

Source: The Washington Post (NASA/ESA handout via Reuters)

Humor:

Clips from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The question “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” has been used many times as a dismissal of medieval angelology in particular, and of scholasticism in general.

In the humoristic magazine Annals of Improbable Research, Anders Sandberg has presented a calculation based on theories of information physics and quantum gravity, establishing an upper bound of 8.6766×10 49 angels.

A pedant is a person who is excessively concerned with formalism, accuracy, and precision, or one who makes an ostentatious and arrogant show of learning.

Brad:

In other words, why are these academics getting all excited about something that they think happened 13.4 billion years ago?



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