|Wireless News Aggregation|
Wishing a safe and happy weekend for all readers of The Wireless Messaging News.
This is one of those weeks when I am very proud to still be an active member of the Paging community. It has been a very busy week.
This week's issue of the newsletter has several very important articles, that I hope you read.
First and foremost, is an exclusive submission entitled, “Is Paging Going Away?” written by Jim Nelson, President & CEO of Prism-IPX Systems. Jim and I have been co-workers, colleagues, and friends for over 30 years. I can't think of anyone more qualified to make a positive case for the health and welfare of the Paging Industry.
We would like to get this article republished in as many places as possible. If you can help us get the messsage out, I believe that Jim's article has the potential to change public opinion about Paging.
I am 100% in agreement with the points made in this article and it fully supports this newsletter's raison d'être i.e. the promotion of Paging and Wireless Messaging.
Another exclusive article of significant interest is, “How We Lost Our Fourth Amendment Rights to Technology Providers” (Warrantless Surveillance, Access to Protected Data, Telecommunications, and Location Data) By Rex Lee.
Rex has done some serious research on this issue. The third-party access to personal information has nothing to do with any conspiracy but rather an FCC consumer compliant Rex filed against T-Mobile in July of 2015. The complaint is centered on data mining transparency.
Although his disclaimer makes it clear that he is “not implying that any company mentioned in the article is unlawfully collecting nor unlawfully misusing sensitive user data, location data, or surveillance data,” he does show how many of us are victims of having our personal data shared with third parties as a result of nontransparent data mining methods that include predatory apps backed by a complex legal process.
Too many consumers and businesses are clicking on “I Agree” without reading the fine print.
Rex will be following this article up with another segment chronicling his FCC formal complaint and nontransparent data mining analysis he submitted to the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) pertaining to mobile data security threats.
I think you will find Rex's report shocking.
This reminds me of my father's comments about “reading the fine print on the back of a contract” back in the day when everything was on paper.
We may be giving permission to use and share our personal information without knowing.
I think you will find Rex's report shocking.
Samsung phone emits smoke on Indian plane mid-air, no damage
Fri Sep 23, 2016 | 9:42am EDT
A Samsung Galaxy Note II phone-cum-tablet is displayed during the first day of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 8, 2013.
By Aditi Shah | NEW DELHI
A Samsung Electronics smartphone sent smoke from an overhead baggage compartment on an Indian commercial plane during a flight on Friday, India's aviation regulator said, but there was no damage and the aircraft landed safely.
Passengers on board an IndiGo flight spotted smoke filtering from the baggage bin and alerted the cabin crew which saw sparks and smoke coming from a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 phone, the airline, owned by InterGlobe Aviation, confirmed in an e-mailed statement.
The IndiGo flight was on its way to Chennai from Singapore, the airline said.
The incident comes after Samsung recalled its new Note 7 phones across the globe due to faulty batteries causing the devices to catch fire while charging or in normal use.
The problems knocked billions of dollars off the market value of Samsung Electronics, which had tried to pre-empt rival Apple by launching the almost $900 Note 7 on Aug. 19, about a month ahead of the latest iPhone release.
There have been no previous reports of similar problems with the Note 2 model, first released in 2012.
A spokesperson for India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said it will send out an advisory to airlines warning passengers to keep all Samsung Note smartphones switched off during the flight or avoid carrying the phones on commercial jets altogether.
The DGCA has called Samsung representatives to its office in New Delhi on Monday. A Samsung spokesman in India had no immediate comment but said the company would issue a statement soon.
(Writing by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Adrian Croft)
Now on to 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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Is Paging Going Away?
September 23, 2016
In the spirit of the 2016 Presidential campaign it is time for someone to speak up about the status of paging use without regard for being politically correct. As a veteran of the paging industry for nearly 50 years I feel qualified to present the facts.
For many years I have heard people say that Paging is going away and being replaced by smartphones but that simply is not true. Paging systems continue to be sold and new pagers put into service every month. Paging is still being used along with cellphones for many reasons. It is true many people try using cellphones for messaging and for non-crucial messaging and it might satisfy them — until they miss an important message. Many that have experienced a serious cellphone service outage due to terrorist acts, natural disasters or other emergencies are using Paging again as it has been proven over and over again that Paging works.
For professionals, especially those involved in providing critical services, a missed message can mean life or death. The very reasons why Paging was created still exist today, i.e. fast, dependable, notification with short messages on a device that is not cluttered with games and has an unmistakable sound that signifies importance.
In a recent a study sponsored by (read PAID FOR) TigerText and utilizing research conducted by HIMSS Analytics and other industry research an attempt was made to discredit paging use by claiming it is too expensive. The study surveyed 200 hospitals and discovered that 90% of these organizations still use pagers. Now considering there are 5,627 registered hospitals in the US, if this percentage holds true then 5064.3 of them use paging. Does that sound like paging is going away?The article states their research surveyed 200 users with results clearly intended to minimalize the value of paging and makes me wonder why HIMSS chose to support one vendor (TigerText) over the entire paging community which ALSO attends, markets and exhibits at HIMSS conferences! Doesn’t it make you wonder if favorable research results are for sale?
There is no argument that smartphones are very useful and convenient for general messaging and searching for information. That use is far different from the role pagers play in critical messaging. And if you are going to use a mobile app on your smartphone wouldn’t it make sense to use one that the professional messaging (Paging) companies designed? Several paging service providers offer mobile phone apps for text messaging. Many of their apps have all the considerations for what makes messaging reliable and worthy of consideration.
Many people today, including those in the medical community, have never used a pager and have no incentive to do so until they have an unfortunate experience caused by service outages or system failures which is almost inevitable during severe weather or cell-site outages.
In spite of the evidence, the debates will continue so here are some the points that must be considered.
Who uses pagers? Doctors, nurses, E911 first responders, firefighters, police, energy producer’s emergency response teams, energy distribution systems, industrial alarm monitoring systems, to name a few.
How many pagers are in use?
In the beginning, Paging was used primarily in private systems3 for hospitals and public safety organizations. The quantity of pagers in service on private systems was not public information. Only vendors that were directly involved supplying pagers and systems had an idea of how many were used.
Many years after commercial Paging was introduced paging became very popular with the public and with businesses so units in service grew rapidly. The FCC required commercial Paging system operators to report their quantity of units in service so estimates of commercial market size was possible.
Eventually sales reached a point where volume discounts and competition drove the price down to a point where private system operators found they could save on labor and system operating expense by using commercial services and shut down their private systems. This caused a major shift of users from private systems to commercial systems and allowed a better estimate of units in service. Paging vendors also advertised their market share and sales growth — giving an even better view of the market size.
When cellphones finally became affordable, and signal coverage was greatly improved, many pager users switched to a cellphone to see if it was better for their specific needs. After many years of cellphone system expansion pager use started to decline but it was still popular with many users due to low prices.
Eventually many commercial Paging system users who were previously on private systems became disappointed with lack of support and poor quality service from the low cost Paging services so their organizations rebuilt private systems which were far more dependable. and provided more immediate alerting and message delivery.
When Paging usage reports showed a decline in subscribers, Paging did not go completely away as many believed it would. A lot of it went to private systems again. And, since only public companies report units in service, pagers on private systems were once again not included in the estimates of total units in service.
Today, there is only one publicly-traded Paging company that reports their units in service. Even though they report a decline in units each year some of these users have switched to other service providers, or have gone over to private systems, and are no longer visible. This creates the illusion that Paging is being discontinued.
With the advent of the Internet anyone can consider themselves to be a “Journalist” and “report” a story. When searching for news and information it is necessary to consider the source. Many sources lack credibility and their stories are simply poorly disguised ads paid for by companies promoting their own products.
For credible information you can contact the Critical Messaging Association4 (CMA) in America or in Europe; they represent the majority of Paging service providers, including commercial, government and private systems. These trade associations hold conferences in both the US and Europe where they share their experiences and ideas for new and improved uses of Paging technology. CMA members are the foremost experts on Paging technology and system management. CMA has a Paging Technical Committee that continuously reviews new requirements and improvements to better serve the customer community. The PTC welcomes customer input to make sure they are focused on actual needs as well as explore new innovations. The introduction of Paging message encryption is one example of how the PTC responded to the end customers’ needs to address HIPAA and other security issues.
Just so you don’t think these only my opinions, here are some of the comments I have heard or read regarding the use of smartphones and pagers:
Will any of this change someone’s mind? For some, it will not. But it just reminds me of a colleague's favorite saying “Yes, you can disagree with me . . . I can’t force you be right!”
1 Chief information officer (CIO), chief digital information officer (CDIO) or information technology (IT) director, is a job title commonly given to the most senior executive in an enterprise responsible for the information technology and computer systems that support enterprise goals.
2 HIPAA The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability act. The HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information and applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers that conduct certain health care transactions electronically. The Rule requires appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information, and sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures that may be made of such information without patient authorization
6 Short Message Service (SMS) is a text messaging service component of phone, Web, or mobile communication systems. It uses standardized communications protocols to allow fixed line or mobile phone devices to exchange short text messages.
8 Time division multiple access (TDMA) is a channel access method for shared medium networks. It allows several users to share the same frequency channel by dividing the signal into different time slots. The users transmit in rapid succession, one after the other, each using its own time slot.
9 GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications, originally Groupe Spécial Mobile ) is a standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to describe the protocols for second-generation (2G) digital cellular networks used by mobile phones, first deployed in Finland in July 1991. As of 2014 it has become the de facto global standard for mobile communications — with over 90% market share, operating in over 219 countries and territories.
10 The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service (SDARS) providers, and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers to provide the communications capability to the President to address the American public during a national emergency. The system also may be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information, such as AMBER alerts and weather information targeted to specific areas. (Amber Alerts are an emergency response system that disseminates information about a missing person (usually a child), by media broadcasting or electronic roadway signs.)
11 “The Art And Science Of Simulcasting Redux” By Dennis Cameron
Additional pertinent information and sources:
Jim Nelson, President & CEO
C: +1 678 643 6705
OMNI Messaging Server
MARS (Mobile Alert Response System)
STG (SIP to TAP Gateway)
The Motorola Nucleus II Paging Base Station is a great paging transmitter. The Nucleus I, however, had some problems.
One of the best features of this product was its modular construction. Most of the Nucleus' component parts were in plug-in modules that were field replaceable making maintenance much easier.
One issue was (and still is) that two of the modules had to always be kept together. They are called the “matched pair.”
Motorola used some tricks to keep people in the field from trying to match unmatched pairs, and force them to send SCM and Exciter modules back to the factory for calibrating them with precision laboratory equipment.
The serial numbers have to match in the Nucleus programing software or you can't transmit. Specifically the 4-level alignment ID parameter contained in the SCM has to match the Exciter ID parameter.
Even if someone could modify the programing software to “fudge” these parameters, that would not let them use unmatched modules effectively without recalibrating them to exact factory specifications.
So now that there is no longer a Motorola factory laboratory to send them to, what do we do?
I hope someone can help us resolve this serious problem for users of the Nucleus paging transmitter.
Please let me know if you can help. [ click here ]
Are you a Yahoo user? Here's what you should do
Elizabeth Weise, USATODAY 5:12 p.m. EDT September 22, 2016
Yahoo's massive data breach could affect hundreds of millions of users. USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO — Yahoo said Thursday an investigation had confirmed that information associated with at least 500 million user accounts was stolen from the company in late 2014.
Yahoo users and others should immediately take steps to protect themselves, and stay vigilant for attempted add-on attacks in the coming days and weeks.
Yahoo also owns the photos sharing site Flickr and the blogging platform Tumblr. No Tumblr accounts were affected. However some Flickr accounts might have been, as in some cases user’s Flickr and Yahoo IDs are linked. Yahoo is reaching out to those users.
Yahoo has 1 billion people globally who engage with one of Yahoo's properties each month. About 250 million use Yahoo Mail, while Flicker has 113 million. Several hundred million use Tumblr, while another 81 million use Yahoo Finance and tens of millions use Yahoo Fantasy Sports.
“I've actually changed my password since this breach in 2014, but regardless I'm never happy to hear about something like this,” said Mike Rhode of Arlington, Va., a user of Flickr and Yahoo Groups. “However, as a long term employee of the Federal Government, I've had my data compromised twice, and have largely resigned myself to this type of issue being an ongoing problem in today's world.”
Yahoo said it was notifying potentially affected users and taking steps to secure their accounts. That included invalidating unencrypted security questions and answers so that they could not be used to access an account. Yahoo will also ask potentially affected users to change their passwords.
Yahoo users who haven't changed their passwords since 2014 especially should immediately change not only their passwords but also their security questions, the company said.
Users should also consider enabling two-step authentication on their Yahoo accounts, to provide an extra and very strong level of security. This form of verification sends a text message or call to the user's phone with a code as a second verification step. The code which must be typed in before the account can be opened.
Instructions on how to enable two-step authentication in Yahoo are on its website.
In addition, users need to think about passwords and security questions from other accounts on which they gave the same or similar information used for their Yahoo account and possibly change them as well.
Once hackers have access to ID and password information for one system, they routinely try the same combination against multiple other platforms to see which ones work, an easily automated process.
Users should avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails that claim to be updates from Yahoo or others about the breach.
Hackers often use news of big breaches to conduct "phishing" campaigns, sending official-looking emails that make it seem as if Yahoo or other legitimate services are asking them to supply information or click through to a link to repair any damage — something legitimate services will not do.
When in doubt, call or email the company that appears to be sending the message separately, don't go through the email you've been sent.
Yahoo users should be cautious of all unsolicited communications that ask for personal information, the company said.
Finally, all users should review their online accounts for suspicious activity. That includes banks, credit card companies and hotel and airline loyalty programs.
Contributing: Mike Snider
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Regulatory Fee Payments Due September 27, 2016,
The FCC has announced that all annual regulatory fee payments for fiscal year 2016 will be due no later than Tuesday, September 27, 2016. However, as discussed below, the FCC’s financial management software has been known to put licensees into “red light” status even when they have timely paid their regulatory fees, if the fee payment has not been processed by the deadline. Therefore, we recommend submitting the fee payment several days before the September 27, 2016 deadline if at all possible. Please let us know if you need assistance in preparing and/or making your regulatory fee payments. We can also help clients by preparing a filing establishing that they are exempt from having to make this payment, as discussed below.
It is important to note that a failure to make the payment by Tuesday, September 27, 2016 will result in the imposition of a 25 percent late payment fee.
The FCC has indicated that it will rely on its own records, to the extent possible, in order to verify that the proper regulatory fee payments have been made. In those circumstances where its records do not contain the necessary information (e.g., mobile unit counts), it will rely on the representations made by the regulatees, subject to random audits. Therefore, in accordance with Rule Section 1.1157(d), our CMRS clients are required to keep supporting records for a minimum of two years from the date the regulatory user fees are paid. In those circumstances where an insufficient fee has been calculated, the entity will be responsible for payment of the additional fee together with any penalties and interest.
Mandatory Use of the Fee Filer System — All regulatees that pay annually must make their regulatory fee payments electronically via the Commission’s online Fee Filer payment system or by wire funds transfer directly to the US Treasury. The FCC no longer accepts paper checks, cashier’s checks or money orders.
Payments for Cellular, PCS, AWS, 700 MHz, Paging, SMR and most other CMRS/commercial licensees, as well as telecommunications and cable television services, must be made annually. As a result, regulatees will be required to access the FCC’s Fee Filer system (www.fcc.gov/fees/feefiler.html) with their valid CORES FRN and password in order to initiate the process of filing their annual regulatory fees. For FY 2016, payment may be made electronically through the Fee Filer system as a credit card transaction or as an ACH Payment that utilizes your bank account information. In this regard, it is critical that you verify with your bank whether an ACH payment can be drawn on your account, and if so, the correct routing number and account information for this payment method, since certain banks utilize different information from what is printed on the account holders’ checks. Wire funds transfers to the US Treasury will be addressed below. As in prior years, the FCC no longer accepts payment by check or mails invoices for regulatory fees. These invoices are viewable in the FCC’s Fee Filer System.
Please note that the FCC accepts VISA, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. In addition to the credit card number and expiration date, you will also need to know the security code for the credit card. Failure to provide accurate credit card information will result in rejection of the credit card payment and a 25% late fee if the payment is refiled after the payment due date. If you choose to make a payment via credit card, please note that the US Treasury has set the maximum charge that can be made on a single credit card at $24,999.99 per day. Additionally, the US Treasury does not permit the total amount due to be split into multiple payments in order to circumvent this restriction. In particular, an amount that exceeds the maximum dollar amount of $24,999.99 may not be split into two or more payment transactions in the same day by using one or multiple cards or over multiple days by using one or more cards. Thus, if your fee is greater than $24,999.99, it will be necessary to pay by another method such as ACH or wire funds transfer (EFT/FEDWire).
Should you desire to make your payment by wire funds transfer to the US Treasury, the following instructions will apply:
We recommend scheduling your payment for no later than Thursday, September 22, 2016 in case there is an issue with the wire funds transfer. Additionally, it will be necessary to fax a copy of the Fee Filer generated Form 159-E to the Federal Communications Commission at (202) 418-2843 at least one hour before (and on the same business day) the wire funds transfer is initiated so that there are no delays in crediting your account. The Form 159-E should be captioned at the top with “ WIRE TRANSFER — REGULATORY FEE PAYMENT. ” Finally, you should make arrangements with your banker a few days in advance so that your financial institution has enough time to initiate the wire funds transfer without running up against the payment deadline. The FCC cautions that any wire transfer that is initiated after the financial institution’s cut off will be credited the next business day. We therefore recommend that you check with your financial institution in order to determine the appropriate deadlines for the sending of the wire transfer and receipt by the US Treasury.
The FCC has made Interstate Telecommunications Service Providers (ITSPs) and CMRS regulatory fee assessment data available for review in its Fee Filer system. For ITSPs, the fee assessment data is based upon revenues data reported in the Form 499 for 2015. For CMRS providers, the fee assessment data is based upon subscriber counts derived from the Form 502 numbering report. The FCC will not be mailing out this data to CMRS providers. Because some carriers do not file their numbering data on the Form 502, the FCC will not have a telephone number count as of December 31, 2015. In those cases, CMRS providers should calculate their regulatory fee based upon the number of telephone numbers assigned to subscribers as of December 31, 2015.
In order to view this data and verify its accuracy, it will be necessary to log into the Fee Filer System. Once logged into the system, you should click on the link to view the appropriate revenue data (for ITSPs) or subscriber data (for CMRS providers.) The data for ITSPs cannot be revised, since it is based upon the 2015 ITSP revenue data that was reported on FCC Form 499.
Several of our wireless clients are also local exchange carriers that pay their ITSP regulatory fees through NECA. While the FCC permits regulatees to use other entities for the payment of fees, it is important to remember that the ultimate responsibility rests with the regulated entity. In this regard, it is also important to note that if there are other ITSP regulatory fees for which you are liable that are not covered through NECA (e.g., CLEC, long distance or VoIP interstate revenue), it will be necessary for you to initiate the payment of those fees in the FCC’s Fee Filer system.
Governmental entities and non-profit entities under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code are exempt from the payment of regulatory fees. Any entity claiming exempt status must submit (or have on file with the Commission) a valid IRS Determination Letter documenting its non-profit status or a certification from a governmental authority attesting to its exempt status. Additionally, a regulatee will be exempt from the payment of regulatory fees if the sum total of all of its regulatory fees owed is $500.00 or less. As a result, we anticipate that most of our paging clients and some of our other small CMRS clients will be exempt from paying the annual regulatory fee this year. In order to minimize the potential for being placed in a red-light status for non-payment of the regulatory fee, we recommend that any client with an exemption file a letter with the FCC that specifically states that they are exempt from the payment of regulatory fees for FY 2016. We will be glad to prepare and file such letter for you if desire.
In addition to the 25 percent late fee, the Communications Act has provided the Commission with three methods for enforcing user fee requirements – monetary penalties for late payment, dismissal of pending applications, and license revocations. Additionally, the FCC’s rules also permit the FCC to withhold action on any applications or requests for benefits (including USF payments) filed by anyone who is delinquent on any non-tax debt to the FCC (including regulatory fees) and to dismiss those applications or requests if satisfactory payment arrangements are not made. Finally, the Commission is authorized to pursue other remedies for non-payment of fees under the Debt Collection Act.
We will update you as further information is released by the FCC. Please let us know if you have any questions or need any assistance with your regulatory fee payments.
Any client with questions regarding this memorandum may call Richard Rubino at 202-828-5519.
|Source:||Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP|
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Product Support Services, Inc.
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.
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Disaster-Proven Paging for Public Safety
Paging system designs in the United States typically use a voice radio-style infrastructure. These systems are primarily designed for outdoor mobile coverage with modest indoor coverage. Before Narrowbanding, coverage wasn’t good, but what they have now is not acceptable! The high power, high tower approach also makes the system vulnerable. If one base station fails, a large area loses their paging service immediately!
Almost every technology went from analog to digital except fire paging. So it’s time to think about digital paging! The Disaster-Proven Paging Solution (DiCal) from Swissphone offers improved coverage, higher reliability and flexibility beyond anything that traditional analog or digital paging systems can provide.
Swissphone is the No. 1 supplier for digital paging solutions worldwide. The Swiss company has built paging networks for public safety organizations all over the world. Swissphone has more than 1 million pagers in the field running for years and years due to their renowned high quality.
DiCal is the digital paging system developed and manufactured by Swissphone. It is designed to meet the specific needs of public safety organizations. Fire and EMS rely on these types of networks to improve incident response time. DiCal systems are designed and engineered to provide maximum indoor paging coverage across an entire county. In a disaster situation, when one or several connections in a simulcast solution are disrupted or interrupted, the radio network automatically switches to fall back operating mode. Full functionality is preserved at all times. This new system is the next level of what we know as “Simulcast Paging” here in the U.S.
Swissphone offers high-quality pagers, very robust and waterproof. Swissphone offers the best sensitivity in the industry, and battery autonomy of up to three months. First responder may choose between a smart s.QUAD pager, which is able to connect with a smartphone and the Hurricane DUO pager, the only digital pager who offers text-to-voice functionality.
Bluetooth technology makes it possible to connect the s.QUAD with a compatible smartphone, and ultimately with various s.ONE software solutions from Swissphone. Thanks to Bluetooth pairing, the s.QUAD combines the reliability of an independent paging system with the benefits of commercial cellular network. Dispatched team members can respond back to the call, directly from the pager. The alert message is sent to the pager via paging and cellular at the same time. This hybrid solution makes the alert faster and more secure. Paging ensures alerting even if the commercial network fails or is overloaded.
Swissphone sets new standards in paging:
Swissphone provides a proven solution at an affordable cost. Do you want to learn more?
How We Lost Our Fourth Amendment Rights to Technology Providers
(Warrantless Surveillance, Access to Protected Data, Telecommunications, and Location Data)
By Rex M. Lee
Smartphones and connected products such as tablet PC’s are the gateway to a person’s personal and business life. Connected products such as a smartphone combine the convenience of a cellular phone, mobile PC, personal GPS locator, camera, audio recorder, and microphone integrated into a single mobile device. The all-inclusive device is supported by thousands of connected applications that are a necessity for everyday life.
One can say that a smartphone could be used as a highly sophisticated surveillance device if third-parties could gain warrantless access to the telecommunication handset. Would any American knowingly give up their fourth amendment rights to use technology that can enable third-party access to their personal and business life? Yes, anyone using a smartphone and/or connected product today has lawfully given up their fourth amendment rights.
Ironically, people are paying money to be monitored, tracked, and data mined by multinational corporations via products and services that require payment to participate such as smartphones. If you are curious to how we lost our fourth amendment rights to technology providers such as wireless carriers, OEM’s, OS developers, and application developers read on.
Connected products such as Smartphones and tablet PC’s are supported by installed and/or rooted apps (“pre-installed apps”) that cannot be uninstalled by the product owner. Many of the pre-installed apps cannot be controlled nor disabled by the product owner. The inability to uninstall, control, and disable pre-installed apps is done by design to support a nontransparent data mining business model.
The nontransparent data mining includes access to personal and business information (“sensitive user data”), location tracking, plus audio & video recording that includes still photography. The monitoring, tracking, and data mining is being conducted by multinational corporations such as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Samsung, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and their “trusted “partners.
Trusted partners can include companies from China such as BAIDU or social media companies such as Facebook who develop predatory pre-installed apps and content for the operating system (“OS”) developer (Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc.). The OS developer enables the predatory apps and content to be preloaded into the OS of the connected product.
Connected product consumers and businesses would be shocked to find out that many pre-installed apps are programmed to access personal and business information (“sensitive user data”), track, and record the product owner and/or the authorized device user which often includes family members such as a spouse or children under 18.
The access to sensitive user data, location data, plus the ability to do audio and video surveillance is enabled by predatory pre-installed apps and content. The ability to monitor, track, and data mine telecommunication subscribers via telecommunication products and services is controversial due to the fourth amendment and laws against warrantless surveillance.
Data stored on PC’s is protected by hacking laws that prevent warrantless third-party access to sensitive user data. A Smartphone is a telecommunication device supported by laws that are designed to protect a citizen against warrantless access (illegal search & seizure) to phone records and/or warrantless surveillance such as wiretapping and tracking by technology such as GPS.
The FCC addresses privacy and third-party access to phone records on their website ( https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/protecting-your-privacy ). For example, the FCC consumer guide to “protecting your privacy” states the following:
Telephone companies may use, disclose, or permit access to this information in these circumstances:
Bullet one states that phone records can only be accessed by third-parties in accordance with the law. As a former wireless carrier RVP and GM, I can state that subscriber information could only be released if a warrant was issued to the wireless carrier and/or written authorization was received by the subscriber. Furthermore, wiretapping of communications and/or tracking surveillance requires a warrant issued by a judge.
With the invention of the smartphone, data mining information from telecommunication subscribers has become a multi-billion dollar industry. The ability to monitor, track, and data mine individuals via a product such as their smartphone is a very profitable venture due to the fact that a person’s life revolves around their telecommunications, PC, internet, and mobility.
A smartphone enables access to a person’s entire life coupled with the ability to track and monitor a person’s physical activity plus access health information. Predatory apps can track location coupled with physical activity such as when a person is sedentary, walking, running, cycling, or driving. Predatory apps can access a person’s physical condition such as their heart rate or even access auto telematics tracking a car’s speed and/or the person’s driving habits.
By virtue of predatory pre-installed apps, companies such as Google and Apple have found a lawful way to monitor, track, and data mine people 24 hours per day 365 days a year by way of their connected technology, telecommunications, transportation, entertainment, and living environment.
Aside from smartphones, connected products include PC’s, tablets, wearable technology, autos, 4K TV’s, internet accounts, and IoT products such as in building climate control and security systems. All of these so called “smart” products are supported by predatory pre-installed apps product owners and users cannot uninstall nor in many cases control or disable. Users virtually have no way to opt out while still being able to participate in regards to products and services that require payment to participate.
Alphabet Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, made this controversial comment in 2010:
With your “” you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches [...] We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about.” — Eric Schmidt, Google (today-Executive Chairman Alphabet — Source: Huffington Post Nov 4th, 2010).
Why would anyone give a company such a Google the “permission” to track, monitor, and data mine personal and professional information to the extent that Google knows where you are, where you’ve been, plus knows what you’re thinking about? The word permission could be linked to nontransparent pre-installed application permission statements (“app permissions”).
App permissions enable predatory apps to access, collect, and aggregated sensitive user data. Sensitive user data includes personal profile (“ID”), contact data, calendar data, email, text messaging, location data, geofence data, auto telematics, physical activity, physical condition, photos, videos, audio recordings, social media pages, accounts (personal & business), email attachments, instant messaging, plus other highly confidential information.
Predatory syncing and cross user data mining apps can access sensitive user data from multiple sources synced or connected to a smartphone. This means that sensitive user data is being data mined from multiple sources simultaneously. Multiple sources includes PC’s, accounts, software, or technology supported by compatible syncing technology. Cross user data mining apps can simultaneously data mine multiple connected individuals.
Predatory apps can also track users by the use of multiple tracking technologies. Users can be tracked by GPS, nearfield communications (“NFC”-tags, devices, etc.), Wi-Fi & WiMAX access points (“AP’s”), and other technologies connected to the internet. For example, a user with a smartphone supported by the android OS can enter a room that has a Sony 4K TV supported by the android OS enabling the TV and smartphone to sync sending the location of the smartphone user back to Google. A user can be tracked the same way by entering a connected auto supported by android auto. Users can be tracked via NFC tags at a Mall or retail store.
Per Eric Schmidt’s quote, companies such as Google say they need this much access to people’s lives to support the need for better internet searches or predictive technology or even AI. The truth is, AI and predicative technology work based on a total invasion of privacy by nontransparent methods. In reality, no one would willingly give a company such as Google the “permission” to monitor, track, and data mine their lives via products and services that require payment to participate. Furthermore, no one is being given the opportunity to opt out while still being able to participate.
Each individual app is supported by a EULA that could add up to more than ten pages of complicated legalese per pre-installed app. Pending the OS and number of pre-installed apps, the legalese supporting a single smartphone could add up to more than 3,000 pages of intrusive predatory T&C’s designed to enable lawful access to personal and business information without due process. People do not realize they are clicking away their fourth amendment rights and enabling warrantless access to sensitive user data plus warrantless surveillance when they click on “I Agree” without reading the fine print.
How are consumers expected to give permission when app permissions are not transparent? Furthermore, how is a consumer expected to give permission when some predatory apps cannot be controlled nor disable forcing the consumer to participate in a nontransparent data mining business model? The ugly truth is, multinational corporations are making profits off of sensitive user data at the expense of the telecommunication subscriber’s privacy while the subscriber is expected to pay the bills. I can only describe the connected business model as “Digital Tyranny”.
In closing, nontransparent data mining is a threat to personal privacy, business data, child privacy, medical data, and legal data. Professionals working within the defense industry, critical infrastructure, and government entities are vulnerable to cyber security threats from multinational corporations that are enabled to develop predatory apps and content pre-installed into telecommunication products and connected devices such as PC’s and tablets.
I filed a formal FCC consumer privacy complaint against T-Mobile in July of 2015. The FCC complaint forced T-Mobile to admit that third-parties do in fact access sensitive user data from telecommunication subscribers that include android and iPhone users. Below is the quote from T-Mobile (I can produce the full letter upon request):
I believe all smartphone & connected product consumers and businesses should know that third-parties are accessing sensitive user data by way of predatory apps backed by a complex and torturous legal process. The other key issue is children under 18 who use smartphones and connected technology are also being monitored, tracked, and data mined by multinational corporations.
I am still trying to get transparency on how companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, and others are using the sensitive user data. It is unsure if the sensitive user data is being sold, shared, used, purchased, or aggregated in manner that can hurt the telecommunication subscriber.
It would be unsettling to understand that we are paying carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint for products and services that could inadvertently bring harm to the telecommunication subscriber (“paying customer”) if the sensitive user data is being misused. After all we are the paying customer and we deserve transparency. I hope that people take action by contacting their technology providers and demand transparency.
Ironically, we are losing our fourth amendment rights to multinational companies from countries such as China rather than to our own government. If you don't believe me, read the following android app permission enabling BAIDU to access location services from US Smartphone subscribers:
Disclaimer: I am not implying that any company mentioned in the article is unlawfully collecting nor unlawfully misusing sensitive user data, location data, or surveillance data.
Rex M. Lee
Wireless Communication Solutions
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Selected portions of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, and/or the BloostonLaw Private Users Update — newsletters from the Law Offices of Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP — are reproduced in this section with the firm’s permission.
Broadband Loop Support Data Due October 1
On September 19, the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing that in order to implement the Connect America Fund-Broadband Loop Support (CAF BLS) high-cost support mechanism, all carriers will be required to file with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) forecasted cost and revenue data for the first six months of 2017 (January 1 to June 30) on October 1, 2016. The forecasted cost and revenue data will be collected on a revised version of FCC Form 508, which was originally used to collect forecasted interstate common line cost and revenue data for ICLS (the mechanism being replaced by CAF BLS). As proposed, the revised Form 508 will collect similar forecasted cost and revenue data associated with consumer broadband-only loops.
REMINDER: Regulatory Fee Deadline is Tuesday, September 27, 2016
The FCC has recently released its Report and Order establishing the regulatory fees for Fiscal Year 2016. The deadline for payment of the regulatory fees is Tuesday, September 27, 2016.
Last year, the FCC made changes that will continue to benefit some of our clients. Notable among these changes are: (a) the increase of the de minimis exemption for the payment of regulatory fees from $10.00 to $500.00, (b) the establishment of a regulatory fee for 800 toll free numbers and (c) provided a fee for Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) as a subcategory of the cable television and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) regulatory fee category. The FCC has also eliminated regulatory fees for the 218-219 MHz Service, the Broadcast Auxiliary Service and Satellite Television construction permits.
It is critically important that our clients meet the September 27, 2016 regulatory fee payment deadline. In addition to the 25 percent late fee and additional administrative fees, the FCC has also indicated that it will place regulatees that fail to make their fee payments in a timely manner in a “Red Light Status,” which will delay the receipt of any USF payments as well as delay the processing of any FCC applications or petitions. Should a fee remain unpaid long enough, the FCC could also take action dismiss applications and potentially revoke any FCC authorizations held by the regulatee. In this regard, if you are exempt from the payment of regulatory fees – either because of your status as a non-profit or governmental entity or because the sum of your total regulatory fees would be less than $500.00, we recommend that a letter be prepared and filed with the FCC so that the Commission is aware of your exempt status and is less likely mistakenly place you in a red-light status.
Further information regarding the payment regulatory fees will be coming out in targeted memos to our retainer clients.
Chairman Wheeler Promises to Review Data Roaming Rules
Speaking to the Competitive Carriers Association in Seattle on September 20, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler indicated he would work with the other Commissioners to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking revising data roaming rules. “CCA has been vocal in holding the Commission to its word and calling on us to apply uniform roaming standards across voice and data services. We’ve heard you, and we’re ready to act. Before the end of the year, I plan to call on my fellow Commissioners to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Commission’s data roaming framework,” said Chairman Wheeler.
Chairman Wheeler appeared to recognize the fact that it is an issue primarily caused by large providers:
Chairman Wheeler also indicated that the FCC is working to move forward with Phase II of the Mobility Fund, by the end of this year. But first, he indicated the need to revise data collection to better target funding. Therefore, the Chairman indicated that the FCC would be using Form 477 data, which contains network coverage data, instead of the census-block level data used for Mobility Fund Phase I. According to Chairman Wheeler, “[Form 477] data allows the Commission to create a significantly more detailed picture of actual wireless coverage within the census block. Instead of generalities, we can drill much deeper to see that there’s coverage here, but there’s not coverage there.”
The Chairman also touched on the ongoing reverse auction for broadcast spectrum, 5G, and backhaul issues. The full remarks can be found here.
WCB Publishes Annual Adjustment of Revenue Thresholds
On September 20, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau announced the inflation-adjusted 2015 revenue thresholds used for classifying carrier categories for various accounting and reporting purposes: (1) distinguishing Class A carriers from Class B carriers; and (2) distinguishing larger Class A carriers from mid-sized carriers. Specifically, the revenue threshold between Class A carriers and Class B carriers is increased to $155.0 million. The revenue threshold between larger Class A carriers and mid-sized carriers is increased to $9.18 billion.
According to the Public Notice, the revenue thresholds for 2015 were determined as follows:
Law & Regulation
FCC Fines Long Distance Carriers for Unauthorized Charges
On September 15, the FCC announced $11 million in fines against three related long distance carriers for “cramming” unauthorized charges onto consumer telephone bills, “slamming” consumers by switching their preferred phone carriers without authorization, deceptive marketing, and violating the FCC’s truth-in-billing rules. The companies, Central Telecom Long Distance, Consumer Telcom, and U.S. Telecom Long Distance, are run as one operation by Data Integration Systems, Inc.
According to a press release, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau reviewed over 260 consumer complaints about the three California-based companies. Many of the complaints were submitted by or on behalf of consumers who had neither heard of the companies nor intended to sign up for their services.
The companies’ telemarketers are purported to have falsely claimed that they were calling on behalf of the consumers’ real telephone carriers about a change in existing service. The companies then misused consumers’ answers to switch their long distance carriers to one of the companies. When customers realized what had occurred and returned to their preferred carriers, these companies continued to charge consumers a recurring monthly fee. The companies also failed to clearly and plainly describe the charges included in their customer bills, as required by the FCC’s rules.
FCC Proposes $100,000 Forfeiture for Missed Form 499 Filings
On September 14, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau proposed a penalty of $100,000 against UnityComm, LLC (UnityComm) for failing to timely file Telecommunications Reporting Worksheets (Worksheets) with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). According to the FCC’s Notice of Apparent Liability, the company’s failure to file gave it “an unfair economic advantage over its competitors who, because of UnityComm’s apparent filing violations, had to pay more than their fair share of the costs of these important federal regulatory fee programs.”
Specifically, UnityComm apparently failed to file two Quarterly Worksheets (499-Q), which were due May 1 and August 1, 2016. Under FCC precedent, the FCC proposed forfeitures of $50,000 for each failure to file. UnityComm may seek reduction or cancellation of the forfeiture under the FCC’s rules.
Senate Holds FCC Oversight Hearing
On September 15, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing on oversight of the FCC. Each of the five sitting FCC Commissioners testified.
FCC Announces Broadband Deployment Percentage for Rate-of-Return Carriers
On September 19, the FCC’s the Wireline Competition Bureau announced the weighted average broadband deployment for all rate-of-return carriers and the relevant deployment figure for each individual carrier based on the December 2015 Form 477 data. These broadband deployment percentages will be used to calculate the capital investment allowance for 2017. They will also be used to calculate the five-year broadband deployment obligations for rate-of-return carriers that receive support based on legacy mechanisms ( i.e. 2017 through 2021). Based on the December 2015 data, the weighted average broadband deployment for all rate-of-return carriers is 74 percent. The deployment figure for each individual carrier can be found at: https://transition.fcc.gov/wcb/RorCoveredDec2015.xlsx .
SEPTEMBER 28: EAS TEST. The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, in collaboration with FEMA, will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (or “EAS”) on Wednesday, September 28, 2016, at 2:20 PM EDT. Entities required under the Commission's rules to comply with EAS rules (“EAS Participants”) include broadcast radio and television stations, and wired and wireless cable television systems, DBS, DTV, SDARS, digital cable and DAB, and wireline video systems. Under FCC Part 11 Rules, EAS Participants are required to file their “day of test” data within 24 hours of any nationwide EAS test or as otherwise required by the Bureau. The September nationwide EAS test will be the first time that test data will be captured and analyzed using the EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS). EAS Participants must file the “day of test” information sought by ETRS Form Two at or before 11:59 PM EDT on September 28, 2016. EAS Participants must file the detailed post-test data sought by ETRS Form Three on or before November 14, 2016.
SEPTEMBER 30: FCC FORM 396-C, MVPD EEO PROGRAM REPORTING FORM. Each year on September 30, multi-channel video program distributors (“MVPDs”) must file with the Commission an FCC Form 396-C, Multi-Channel Video Programming Distributor EEO Program Annual Report, for employment units with six or more full-time employees. Users must access the FCC’s electronic filing system via the Internet in order to submit the form; it will not be accepted if filed on paper unless accompanied by an appropriate request for waiver of the electronic filing requirement. Certain MVPDs also will be required to complete portions of the Supplemental Investigation Sheet (“SIS”) located at the end of the Form. These MVPDs are specifically identified in a Public Notice each year by the FCC.
NOVEMBER 1: FCC FORM 499-Q, TELECOMMUNICATIONS REPORTING WORKSHEET. All telecommunications common carriers that expect to contribute more than $10,000 to federal Universal Service Fund (USF) support mechanisms must file this quarterly form. The FCC has modified this form in light of its decision to establish interim measures for USF contribution assessments. The form contains revenue information from the prior quarter plus projections for the next quarter. Form 499-Q relates only to USF contributions. It does not relate to the cost recovery mechanisms for the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund, the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), and the shared costs of local number portability (LNP), which are covered in the annual Form 499-A that is due April 1.
|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 firstname.lastname@example.org .|
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