|Wireless News Aggregation|
Wishing a safe and happy weekend for all readers of The Wireless Messaging News.
Big issue this week and I am running late. No time for editorials. See you next week.
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.
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iPhone 7 Vs iPhone 6S: What's The Difference?
SEP 9, 2016 @ 04:00 PM
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have landed and there are some big differences between them . The iPhone 7 is expected to comfortably outsell its bigger brother, but should you upgrade when it looks so similar to the iPhone 6S – especially as last year’s model has just received a price cut and surprising storage boost?
Let’s break it down…
Design & Size – Good And Bad News
There’s no avoiding the most obvious external design change between the iPhone 7 and iPhone 6S: the removal of the headphone jack.
Yes, Apple has done the unthinkable (though predictable), citing “courage” to advance standards and advising users switch to wireless headphones if they want to be able to listen to music and charge the iPhone 7 at the same time.
Understandably the move will polarise users, especially with no wireless or quick charging to make scenario this less painful. Apple will include a 3.5mm to Lightning adaptor in the iPhone 7 box, but for some this risky change will prove to be a deal breaker.
The other potential deal breaker is Apple has done almost nothing to change the external design of the iPhone now for three generations and physically the iPhone 7 and iPhone 6S (and iPhone 6) are almost identical:
Where the iPhone 7 has improved, however, is its durability as it retains the same tough Series 7000 aluminium as the iPhone 6S but also adds IP67 dust and water resistance which allows the phone to survive being fully submerged in water for up to 30 minutes. Yes, it’s a catch-up feature to rivals but a good one.
Another subtle change is the home button is now a fixed touch sensitive surface with haptic feedback. This should reduce button failures (a fairly common problem) and app developers will get access to allow custom haptic feedback patterns. Meanwhile Apple has also removed the antenna bands from the back of the iPhone 7 which gives it a cleaner look and integrated a speaker into the earpiece so users get loud external audio for the first time.
And in a final flourish, Apple has expanded the array of colour options for the iPhone 7 and it comes in Rose Gold, Gold, Silver, Black and (for just 128GB and 256GB options) Jet Black, though the Space Grey option has been ditched.
Displays – Minor Changes
Despite changing the smartphone industry with its Retina Display on the iPhone 4 in 2010, Apple has since been surpassed by rivals producing 1080p, 2K and even 4K OLED displays. But yet again Apple has stuck to its guns:
LED and 750p is undoubtedly getting long in the tooth, but Apple has boosted peak brightness on the iPhone 7 by 25%, introduced support for a wider (P3) colour gamut and better colour management. All of which sees Apple declare the iPhone 7 to have a “cinema standard” display, but no this won’t match up to the OLEDs on Samsung’s Galaxy S7, S7 Edge and Note 7 .
Meanwhile 3D Touch support is still there, even if its implementation in iOS 10 remains hit and miss as users are forced to guess which interface elements are enabled and which are not.
Performance – The Fastest Gets Faster
Even now some benchmarks claim the 2015 iPhone 6S is faster than Android’s 2016 flagships, but that hasn’t stopped Apple giving the iPhone 7 another significant speed boost:
Apple has yet to detail the iPhone 7’s exact CPU and GPU models and clock speeds, but it claims the range’s first ever quad core processor delivers 40% and 50% performance gains respectively over the iPhone 6S.
The iPhone 6S is still blisteringly quick, so this may not be a huge selling point though it does promise a great deal of future proofing. Some power users will decry the lack of a RAM upgrade, but it just doesn’t seem like iOS needs more right now.
More subtly, the iPhone 7 also provides a 50% boost to 4G speeds with a 300Mbit modem switched out for a 450Mbit unit (how often you get to test this in real life remains to be seen). Apple made no claims of improving Touch ID this year but again, it’s not necessary.
Cameras – The Samsung Fightback Begins
For the last two years Samsung has been the smartphone photography king, but the new iPhone 7 makes some very welcome changes after the iPhone 6S plateaued from the iPhone 6:
The numbers to look for here are the significantly larger f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilisation and a four LED flash with cool and warm tones, all of which should improve the iPhone’s biggest photographic weakness: low light photography.
In addition to this Apple has fitted the iPhone 7 with an all new 6-element lens, upgraded image signal processor and added support for wide colour capture which will boost colour accuracy. Meanwhile the front facing camera gets a bump to 7MP and, while still stuck at f/2.2, it delivers greater detail and 1080p video.
Of course the star of the show, however, is the iPhone 7 Plus and its dual rear cameras which provide 2x optical zoom and a much wider depth of field. But it remains extremely bulky for a 5.5-inch phone.
Battery Life And Charging – Better But Still Disappointing
Do you know what removing the headphone jack was meant to do in many users’ eyes? Create space for a much larger battery.
But it turns out most of that space was used to fit the haptics engine for the new touch sensitive Home button (not a trade off I expect many users support) – as such there’s only a moderate improvement in stamina from the iPhone 6S to the iPhone 7:
Arguably even more frustrating, however, is Apple’s ongoing refusal to equip its iPhones with either fast charging or wireless charging. Given both have been common features on Android rivals for years and there is now just a Lightning port on the iPhone 7, their ongoing omission is deeply disappointing.
Storage And Price – Upgrades, But For All
Where Apple does catch up with rivals this year though, is storage.
The iPhone 7 finally ditches the loathed 16GB entry level tier and doubles storage across the range from 16/64/128GB to 32/128/256GB. This makes the iPhone 7 far better value for money, but making the upgrade decision harder is Apple has retroactively upgraded iPhone 6S storage as well:
This causes a conundrum. For example, is a 128GB iPhone 6S preferable to the same outlay for a 32GB iPhone 7? Personally I’d side with the newer model, but I can see some users being tempted to do the opposite — and the iPhone 7 Plus costs even more .
The iPhone 7 is a bigger upgrade than cynics will claim. The added durability, water resistance, upgraded camera, performance gains, brighter display and bigger storage options are all welcome and — in some cases — overdue.
But the iPhone 7 also isn’t as big an upgrade as we are used to for an iPhone ‘number change’ year. The virtually identical design (fairly or unfairly) seems dated compared to rivals like the Galaxy S7 Edge and Note 7, while the lack of fast and wireless charging is inexcusable in 2016 and the removal of the headphone jack has the potential to backfire (it is less about “courage” than generating cash from licensing fees).
By now it is common knowledge that a radical upgrade will come in 2017 with the ‘all glass’ Edge iPhone to celebrate the range’s 10th anniversary. The iPhone 7 is predominantly a step forward, but it is unlikely to be remembered as a classic Apple release. . .
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 ]
Apple’s iOS 10 Is Coming to Your iPhone Sept. 13
AUTHOR: MICHAEL DURAN. MICHAEL DURAN
GET READY FOR slammin’ text messages.
Apple has announced that the next version of its mobile operating system will be released on September 13. The iOS 10 update will be available for iPhone 5s or newer. For iPads, you must have the Mini 2 or newer, and iPods must be 6th generation or newer. Of course, if you buy a new iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, it will have iOS 10 preloaded when it arrives.
Not all phones will receive the update on day of release—It could take more than 24 hours for iOS 10 to actually show up on your device. Once you get that alert and the infamous little red dot shows up on your Settings icon, your device is ready.
The update contains a host of new features . There are big changes coming to Apple’s native iMessaging app, like cool birthday animations and text messages that “slam” into the conversation. You can draw on pictures that you send to friends too. Maybe more useful are the expanded Siri integrations. The voice assistant will now be able to order you a Lyft or Uber, and will gain more capabilities as developers build more functionality into their apps. But if you want to use those apps with Siri baked in, you’ve got to be running iOS 10. So definitely upgrade!
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Emergency communications in the modern age
By Nick Hawkins
Organizations have an increasing number of employees who travel. According to a 2015 report by Strategy Analytics, the global mobile workforce is expected to grow to more than 1.75 billion by 2020, accounting for almost half of employees. For organizations of all sizes, mobile workers make communicating in an emergency increasingly difficult.
In the event of an emergency effective communication is crucial. The safety of employees is of importance to organizations. When a location-based crisis occurs (such as a fire, explosion, natural disaster or terrorist attack) organisations need to have the tools in place to communicate with employees quickly and reliably. For example, if there were riots taking place in the same area an employee was traveling, it is important for an organization to be able to notify that person and make them aware of the danger, as well as provide the necessary actions to guide them to safety.
So how does a company know where its employees are? How can it fulfill its duty of care and ensure employees are safe in times of crisis, no matter where they are located?
According to Ernst & Young’s latest Global Mobility Effectiveness Survey, only 30 per cent of companies have a system in place for tracking business travelers. Location data collected from building access control systems, including Wi-Fi access points and travel management systems, can help safety-conscious organizations automatically keep employee locations up to date — even when employees are traveling or moving between buildings. In such instances, organizations can improve security preparedness and employee safety by harnessing location-based technologies that help ensure the right message is sent to the right people at the right time.
Importance of location tracking and alerting
The increasing regularity of crisis events worldwide necessitates the need to instantly locate and alert employees of any nearby risks. Dynamic location tracking and alerting has huge potential for safeguarding the well-being of mobile workers. Many organizations have started to integrate critical communication platforms with physical security systems to identify, communicate with and account for employees during these disruptive events.
When adopting critical communication systems, it is important for an organization to optimize its crisis management plans to make the most of the tools at its disposal.
Aggregate location data across multiple systems
In today’s digital world everything is connected and many of the devices and technologies we use on a daily basis transmit data instantaneously — meaning employee locations can be automatically acquired. Everything from access control and badging systems to sophisticated biometric systems that require fingerprint and facial recognition track specific employee movements between corporate buildings. Wi-Fi access points act similarly, providing location information linked to laptops, apps and other devices employees connect to throughout an organization's facilities. By utilizing these systems, companies can use the data that is already being provided to maintain a database of where their employees are and use that data for triggering automated incident communication in the event of an emergency.
Merge travel risk management with location alerting
Corporate travel management tools and travel security services such as International SOS, provide specific travel details and itineraries for individual employees — so organizations know where employees are traveling to, how they are getting there and where they will be staying once they arrive.
An effective location alerting system will aggregate and store data from as many sources as possible. This enables organizations to locate and communicate with staff during an emergency and help determine if they are safe or in need of assistance.
Ensure databases are accurate
Location-based notification systems need quality data that is up-to-date and accurate to effectively reach an organization's employee base. Traditional methods of importing data such as spread sheets and call lists have proven ineffective. While these sources contain important contact path information such as landline numbers and addresses, they lack other contact paths that employees are most likely to notice whilst traveling, such as mobile phones, email and app notifications. Collecting correct and relevant contact data ensures that messages are received and responded to by employees.
Once location data is gathered and stored, it must be connected to a critical communications platform that can instantaneously distribute targeted alerts in the event of an emergency. The most effective critical communications systems are those that allow for two-way communication between an organization and its employees.
When a location-based emergency occurs, critical communications platforms can send messages to a targeted geographic region — whether that is a specific building, floor, neighborhood or postcode. Additionally, the systems two-way polling feature enables emergency notifications to be acknowledged and — if needed — acted upon. Adopting a system that permits recipients to acknowledge that a message was received allows organizations to quickly determine who is safe and who is potentially in danger.
If a fire breaks out in a corporate building on the fifth floor and an emergency alert is sent out to all employees in the building, organizations are able to know instantly that three employees used their security badges to swipe in to that floor earlier that afternoon, but only one responded to the emergency alert. With two-way communications enabled, organizations can expect that a notification will be acknowledged and that there is a danger that the other two employees are incapacitated.
Building on this idea, systems that enable employees to initiate communications have a much greater impact in protecting their safety in location-based emergencies. For instance, if an employee finds themselves in the midst of a terrorist attack, panic button capabilities are extremely valuable. Panic button applications have the capability of sending a message to an organization's security team — automatically transmitting the employee’s location, as well as any shared audio and video with just the push of a button.
During critical situations, the ability to identify and reach employees with reliable, automated communications that harness geo-intelligent tools can not only protect business assets but save the lives of employees. As every minute counts, organizations cannot afford to waste time searching spread sheets and schedules to manually notify employees. Automated communications that utilize available location data enable organizations to connect with employees more effectively, helping to ensure their safety during emergencies.
Photo credit: Vectors.1 / Shutterstock
|Macworld Product Support Services, Inc.|
Repair and Refurbishment Services
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.
|RF Demand Solutions|
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?
Apple Watch Series 2 offers glimpse of smartwatch future
Focuses on fitness, but there’s a long way to go to major smartwatch growth
By Matt Hamblen
With the Apple Watch Series 2 announcement on Wednesday , Apple focused on using the upcoming smartwatch for fitness. It includes built-in GPS for tracking hikes and distance runs and is “swim-proof,” or water-resistant to 50 meters.
Of course, the Series 2, on sale for $369 on Sept. 16, will be good for other things, like messaging and Apple Pay. But Apple chose to dwell on fitness, a pivot away from the way it marketed the original Apple Watch, which shipped in April 2015. Some Pokemon Go functions will even be added later in the year to the S2, encouraging users to get outside and explore as they discover Pokemon creatures. (Players will still need a smartphone to actually capture a Pokemon, however.)
Analysts see Apple’s new fitness focus as a way to dig into the top-selling fitness bands from Fitbit, which start at $60 and average over $100 each. In doing so, Apple sought to clarify and simplify the purpose of buying a smartwatch, with hopes of getting the camel’s nose inside the tent so users can explore other functions.
The lessons Apple learns will be instructive for other smartwatch makers and are destined to shape how all types of wearable gadgets evolve in the next 20 years.
“People still don’t know what to do with a smartwatch device,” said IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani. “Focusing on fitness is like Apple’s Trojan horse to get users to slowly start to use a smartwatch for other things, like notifications. Apple hopes they will later realize the value.”
Apple’s newfound approach will be scrutinized by the entire smartwatch industry, which saw a gaping 32% decline in the second quarter of 2016, according to IDC. That decline came about because Apple Watch was by far the biggest in smartwatches (with 1.6 million shipped) but nonetheless saw a decline of 55% for the second quarter compared to a year earlier. Meanwhile Samsung, Lenovo, LG and Garmin all experienced gains .
For all of 2016, Apple Watch shipments will be down somewhat from the 11.3 million that were sold in 2015, although final numbers are still being tabulated by IDC and will be released later this month. Fourth quarter sales of the Series 2 and previous models won’t be enough to offset the loss for all of 2016, Ubrani said. In 2017, the Apple Watch will see a rebound in sales, he predicted, with growth in every year through 2020.
“Fitness is the easiest selling point at the moment for wearables,” agreed Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies. “Fitness bands [like Fitbit] are still outselling smartwatches and some of it is due to lower price. But some of it is due to the fact that consumers are still not quite sure what smartwatches can do for them and if it’s worth paying more.”
Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, is bullish on the latest Apple Watch innovations. If the new Apple Series 1 and 2 watches perform as well as demonstrated on stage, he predicted “sales will improve dramatically.” The next wave of smartwatch owners should increase the size of the total market by 10 times, a group he called the “early majority” instead of the “early adopters.”
Hyperbole with smartwatch sales
Other analysts were less bullish than Moorhead.
“It’s good that Apple is trying to reposition the Watch as a solution rather than a peripheral device [to a smartphone], but at its current $369 price point, it may have limited market appeal,” said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. “I don’t see this will be a very high volume market for Apple.”
Gold said the price drop of the original Series 1 model to $269 would only make a difference in boosting sales if it had more features like those in the Series 2. Apple said Series 1 watches will have the same upgraded system-in-a-package (SiP) dual core processor and graphics processor as the Series 2 — still not enough for Gold’s taste.
Ubrani said the smartwatch market is a “very, very small market and it will likely remain like that for a long time” even though there will be growth. Disagreeing politely with Moorhead, he said, “there certainly won’t be anything like a 10X improvement” in the next few years.
IDC has predicted 19.2 million smartwatches will ship this year, a tiny number when compared with the more than 1 billion smartphones that will be sold.
What seems to be driving much of the interest in the Apple Watch — and the entire smartwatch market — despite lower-than-expected initial sales, is a strong interest in where smartwatches and other wearables will eventually take us in the world of personal computing.
Could average people use a smartwatch in 20 years to replace a smartphone for video calls and to serve as a digital wallet, with the ability to pay for things? Can you carry a digital version of your driver’s license or identity card, with insurance and other information? With such a device, could normal workplace habits be changed? For example, could the smartwatch be used to open security doors through short-range wireless and help with passwords to log into highly secure behemoth computer systems?
Using the smartwatch as a person’s electronic wallet offers plenty of promise, according to Matthew Goldman, the chief product officer for Bankrate, a large provider of consumer financial advice and tools.
“People can pay more easily with a smartwatch that stays on the person,” Goldman said in an interview. “We talk to people with Apple Pay on their watch who say it’s much easier than using their phone. The phone isn’t that big of a differentiator from using a card in your wallet.”
Building a legacy
At one point three years ago, the upcoming original Apple Watch was seen as a way for then-new Apple CEO Tim Cook to leave a lasting mark on the computer industry in the post-iPhone era. But even before the disasterous drop in smartwatch sales in the second quarter of 2016, Samsung officials were bemoaning their early smartwatch results even after beating Apple to the market.
Cook and Apple have not said much about the recent downturn in sales, but Cook was predictably upbeat at this week's launch event. He pointed out Apple Watch is second only to Rolex, leads in smartwatches and tops customer satisfaction surveys.
“It’s important we delight customers,” Cook said. “Apple Watch set a high bar. We are just getting started.”
What’s still needed—a fashion flair
Apple’s focus on the fashionable design of the hardware and bands and even the simplified interface in Watch OS 3 will go a long way, and could influence the rest of the industry, Ubrani said. (A new ceramic white model was launched, along with stylish new watch bands.)
“Fashion smartwatches are not a silly concept,” Ubrani said. “People are interested in new designs and pay attention. Many people, including women, weigh the design over the function. The problem of designing for women still exists.”
IDC has seen that when smartwatch makers pitch their wares to women buyers, “they tend to take their regular model and coat it in gold or add jewels, but that really doesn’t work because the smartwatch is still pretty large,” Ubrani added. “So it’s still a high price that appeals to one type of woman. Apple is doing a good job there but there’s still room for improvement.”
In Series 2, Apple still makes both a 38mm model and a 42mm model, which is a lot smaller than Motorola’s Moto 360 watches at 42mm and 46mm. The Motorola devices start at $300 . The Apple Watch Series 2 keeps the same footprint as the original, but the new one is a “bit thicker,” Ubrani said.
In another comparison, Samsung is producing the round-faced, cellular-connected Galaxy Gear S3 smartwatch with a 1.3-in. dial size, which actually is below the 1.5 in. display dimension of the smaller 38mm Apple Watch. (But the overall case of the Galaxy Gear S3 is 46mm, up from the 42mm of the Gear S2.)
However they are measured, Ubrani and other analysts have said watchmakers still need to find ways to make smartwatches more stylish, with some models small enough for many women but large enough to allow for touch functionality.
“Large watches are in fashion, but by producing that, you are still ruling out a lot of people,” Ubrani said.
“Because a watch is so much like jewelry, there need to be many more styles and many more brands that offer them,” added Moorhead. “ I fully expect all of the major traditional watch brands to bring out smartwatches in the next five years.”
Nobody is talking lately about what a smartwatch will be in 20 years or whether it will be, say, a Dick Tracy two-way live video communications device. The realities of early problems with smartwatches seem to have tamped down the most lofty expectations of three years ago.
There seems also to be a recognition that despite the complexities of technology inside tiny smartwatch components (such as how the speaker mechanism pumps out water in the Series 2), they comprise a tiny market compared to the current rate of 1 billion smartphones sold in a year.
“We are looking at a multi-year journey,” Moorhead said. “Before smartwatches become a mass market device, a few things need to come into place: the experience needs to be fast and seamless without the requirement for a smartphone with a price around $200.” He estimated it will take five years for smartwatches to become mainstream.
“No doubt, wearables will play a much bigger role in coming years, but which form will be the winning one remains to be seen,” Milanesi added. “Most companies have looked at wearables as another revenue opportunity as sales of smartphones decrease. Apple, however, is playing a much longer game where the smartwatch starts with the familiar to build a dependency and trust, then builds on other things like health, connected home, Siri and more.”
The idea is that the smartwatch might eventually become a Swiss Army knife, with various applications turned on with connectivity in the cloud or the smartphone.
“What we term smartwatches today will morph in 20 years into specialty devices,” Gold predicted. “Some will be activity monitors like the new thrust of Apple Watch Series 2; some will be health monitors; some will be for gaming. Who knows where it will lead?
"I look at this like early phone units that were about phone calls, then we got email and networks improved," he said. "Then there was music, then web, gaming, GPS, health fitness and more. Instead of looking at the smartwatch as a peripheral device, it will be configurable to what we need it to do. And it will have connectivity to whatever services it needs, which could either be in the smartphone or the cloud.”
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FCC Sets Regulatory Fee Deadline for Tuesday, September 27, 2016
The FCC has recently released its Report and Order establishing the regulatory fees for Fiscal Year 2016. These fees are designed to recover its $384.012 million appropriation from Congress, of which $339.844 million is for operational expenses and $44.168 million is for one-time costs associated a reduction of the FCCs office space foot print and/or relocation to a new office location. The deadline for payment of the regulatory fees is Tuesday, September 27, 2016.
See the full article below for more information.
Year End Reminder: Ownership Changes May Require FCC Approval
We want to remind our clients that many types of reorganizations, estate planning and tax savings activities and other transactions require prior FCC approval; and given the frequent need to implement such transactions by the end of the year, companies engaging in such transactions should immediately determine whether they must file an application for FCC approval, and obtain a grant, before closing on a year-end deal. Transactions requiring prior FCC approval include (but are not limited to):
Fortunately, transactions involving many types of licenses can often be approved on an expedited basis. But this is not always the case, especially if bidding credits and/or commercial wireless spectrum are involved. Also, in some instances Section 214 authority may be required, especially in the case of wireline and other telephony services. Clients planning year-end transactions should contact us as soon as possible to determine if FCC approval is needed.
FCC’s Broadcast Incentive Auction to Enter Stage Two with Reduced Clearing Target
After completing 27 rounds of clock phase bidding over eleven (11) days, the FCC concluded Stage 1 of the Forward Auction on Tuesday, August 30, without meeting the final stage rule and without meeting the conditions to trigger an extended round. The FCC issued a Stage 2 transition Public Notice (DA 16-990) on August 31.
Net proceeds from forward auction bidding topped out at just $23 billion, which was well short of the $88 billion target for clearing 126 megahertz of broadcast spectrum. Indeed, many PEA markets outside the Top 100 did not see bid prices increase after Round 1, since the supply of ten (10) paired channel blocks was greater than the aggregate demand in the marketplace. The Incentive Auction now shifts to Stage 2, with a reduced spectrum clearing target of 114 megahertz, and further reverse auction bidding by broadcasters to begin on Tuesday, September 13th.
It is unclear exactly when Stage 2 reverse auction bidding will conclude. However, since Stage 1 of the reverse auction took four weeks, we think it is reasonable to assume that Stage 2 will take less time ( e.g., closer to two weeks) based on the reset base clock price (picking up where the previous reverse auction bidding left off), the increased number of daily bidding rounds, and broadcasters’ growing familiarity with reverse auction procedures. Bidding in the forward auction will resume one business day following the conclusion of bidding in the reverse auction. Given the likely duration of Stage 2 in the reverse auction, this means forward auction bidding is likely to resume sometime in early October. Bidders should nonetheless be prepared should things move more quickly than expected.
The FCC has modified the band plan for Stage 2 by dropping one block from 10 to 9 paired blocks for a total of 90 MHz available for bidding in most PEAs. This will require that the reverse auction determine the cost needed to recover 114 megahertz (rather than 124 megahertz) of spectrum. An illustration of the Stage 2 band plan is shown below:
Since Stage 1 bidding only raised about 25% of the funds necessary to pay the required relocation costs, some analysts are surprised that the FCC is reducing its clearing target by such a relatively small amount. However, procedures adopted by the FCC last year said that each subsequent stage of the Incentive Auction (if needed) would involve reduction by just a single spectrum block. Depending on the cost of clearing 114 megahertz, we believe it is possible that forward auction bidding in Stage 2 may not reach the level needed to close in Stage 2 and this exercise may need to be repeated at least once ( i.e., moving to Stage 3 with 8 blocks) in a month or so.
While bidding in the Incentive Auction is on hold temporarily, all auction applicants must remember that they
FCC Adopts Enhanced HAC Handset Benchmarks; Expands Scope of De Minimis Exception
The FCC in early August amended its Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) rules to adopt an historic agreement among consumer advocates, wireless industry trade groups and device manufacturers that will increase the number of HAC-enabled devices offered by service providers, and chart a course toward achieving 100 percent compatibility within eight years. The revised rules are scheduled to go into effect next month, but a multi-year transition period means that the enhanced handset benchmarks will not be applicable to our firm’s wireless service provider clients for a number of years.
Comments filed last January by the Blooston Rural Carriers supported the industry consensus agreement and goal of moving toward 100% compliance, subject to technical feasibility, and provided that smaller service providers had additional time to achieve compliance and have the ability to seek waivers if an adequate supply of complaint devices is unavailable. The new rules provide smaller carriers an additional eighteen months to meet enhanced handset benchmarks after the compliance deadline for device manufacturers, and the Commission plans to seek additional comment in the future on appropriate waiver standards.
Specifically, the HAC Benchmarks Report and Order ( FCC 16-103 ) adopted the following percentage
The Commission also expanded the scope of the HAC de minimis exception, creating a more limited obligation for entities offering only four or five handsets once the enhanced benchmarks are effective.
“These new benchmarks should increase the total number of hearing-aid-compatible handsets available to consumers with hearing loss even before the move to 100 percent compatibility and will help ensure that everyone stays on track to reach our ultimate goal,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in a written statement.
In another welcome development for our firm’s clients, who have sometimes been misled about correct HAC ratings for certain devices, the Commission has clarified that service providers may now legally rely on handset information contained in manufacturers’ Form 655 (Annual HAC Report) filings.
Together with industry input, the Commission said it expects to make a determination regarding the feasibility of a 100% benchmark, as mobile device capabilities and markets evolve, by 2024.
FCC Sets Regulatory Fee Deadline for 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 regulates that fail to make their regulatory 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 FCC 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 clients.
Deadline Established to Notify Frontier of Served Census Blocks
Communications providers have until October 24, 2016, to indicate that they serve any of the 3,146 census blocks recently identified by Frontier Communications Corp. (“Frontier”) as those it will serve using Phase I incremental universal service support. Frontier notified the FCC in August that it intended to modify its Connect America Phase I Round 2 (Phase I) incremental broadband deployment plans to include 3,146 census blocks that it had not previously identified with its initial election. Under the requirements for Phase I incremental support, other providers now have until October 24, 2016, to notify Frontier that they currently offer Internet service at speeds of 3 Mbps downstream and 768 kbps upstream or higher in the newly identified census blocks.
A list of the census blocks Frontier intends to serve is available here .
911 Reliability Certification Due October 15
On August 19, the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (Bureau) announced that the online system for filing 911 reliability certifications has been reopened for filing this year’s Annual Reliability Certification, due October 15, 2016. The online portal can be found here .
Covered 911 Service Providers, which are defined as entities that “[p]rovide 911, E911, or NG911 capabilities such as call routing, automatic location information (ALI), automatic number identification (ANI), or the functional equivalent of those capabilities, directly to a public safety answering point (PSAP), statewide default answering point, or appropriate local emergency authority,” or that “[o]perate one or more central offices that directly serve a PSAP,” are required to take reasonable measures to provide reliable 911 service with respect to three substantive requirements: (i) 911 circuit diversity; (ii) central office backup power; and (iii) diverse network monitoring. Covered 911 Service Providers are required to file annual certifications of compliance with specified best practices or reasonable alternative measures.
Use of the FCC’s online portal requires registration as either an ‘inputter’ or a ‘coordinator’, similar to the Network Outage Reporting System (NORS). Therefore, carriers should not wait until the last minute to file.
Law & Regulation
Electronic Filing of Form 395 Common Carrier Report Now Effective
The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau has announced that effective August 26, 2016, it will no longer accept paper Form 395 Common Carrier Annual Employment Reports. Instead, all Form 395 Common Carrier Annual Employment Reports must be filed electronically through the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) using WC Docket No. 16-233. The only exception to this requirement is if the filer is requesting confidential treatment – in which case the filing would be made on paper rather than electronically through ECFS. We will continue to accept Form 395 reports and information from our clients that have us handle such filings, and submit the reports electronically in the required fashion.
As part of this initiative, the FCC has developed a new Form 395 – which replaces the prior edition. We will send this new version of the Form 395 to our clients as part of our annual Spring memorandum concerning the Form 395 filings.
FCC Announces Exception to TCPA
On August 11, the FCC released a Report and Order detailing a new exemption to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) for the collection of federal debt. The exception is the result of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which amends the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by excepting from that Act’s consent requirement robocalls “made solely to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States” and authorizing the Commission to adopt rules to “restrict or limit the number and duration” of any wireless calls “to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States.”
Specifically, exempted calls are limited to “debts that are delinquent at the time the call is made or to debts that are at imminent risk of delinquency as a result of the terms or operation of the loan program itself.” As a practical matter, according to the FCC, this means that, at the time the call is made, the debt is delinquent or there is an imminent, non-speculative risk of delinquency due to a specific, time-sensitive event that affects the amount or timing of payments due, such as a deadline to recertify eligibility for an alternative repayment plan or the end of a deferment period.
FCC adopted three main limitations:
“With this Report and Order, the Commission is establishing strong, pro-consumer limits on robocalls to collect federal debt," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement. "Wherever possible, the Commission has sought to limit the number of unwanted robocalls and ensure consumers have the tools to stop them.”
The requirements of the Report and Order will become effective 60 days after the Commission’s publication of a notice in the Federal Register, which will announce approval of portions of the rules requiring approval by OMB under the PRA.
EAS Test on September 28; New EAS Event Codes Go Into Effect September 12
As a reminder, the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (the “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. Important compliance dates and recommendations for preparing for the test are listed below. 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.
Changes adopted in July by the FCC will go into effect just before the test. Specifically, the FCC added three new “event codes” that can be used to warn the public about the storm surges and extreme winds that may accompany hurricanes and other severe weather events. Specifically, In response to stakeholder input, the FCC has now added three additional codes — to signify an “Extreme Wind Warning,” “Storm Surge Watch,” and “Storm Surge Warning” — so that communities can receive more specific and relevant alerts during hurricanes or other severe weather.
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. We note that 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). As a result, all EAS Participants are reminded that they must register with ETRS and must complete the filing of ETRS Form One on or before August 26, 2016. Form One filings may be edited until September 26, 2016. Other compliance dates that EAS Participants should mark on their calendars are as follows:
Sixth Circuit Reverses FCC Municipal Broadband Decision
On August 10, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the FCC’s order preempting Tennessee and North Carolina laws that prevented municipalities from deploying cable, video, and Internet services beyond their current boundaries.
In reversing the FCC, the court focused on the fact that neither federal law nor FCC rule requires the municipalities to expand their coverage area; on the contrary, federal law and FCC rule leave the choice of coverage area up to the provider. Therefore, according to the court, “What the FCC seeks to accomplish through preemption is to decide who—the state or its political subdivisions—gets to make these choices. It wants to provide the [municipalities] with these options notwithstanding Tennessee’s and North Carolina’s statutes that have already made these choices.” The court then noted that legal precedent makes clear, “Any attempt by the federal government to interpose itself into this state–subdivision relationship therefore must come about by a clear directive from Congress, and the FCC can only pick the decision maker here if there exists a clear statement to do so in §706. “ The court ultimately held there was not such a clear statement.
In his statement, Chairman Wheeler stated that, “While we continue to review the decision, it appears to halt the promise of jobs, investment and opportunity that community broadband has provided in Tennessee and North Carolina. In the end, I believe the Commission’s decision to champion municipal efforts highlighted the benefits of competition and the need of communities to take their broadband futures in their own hands.”
A full copy of the decision is available here .
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 email@example.com .|
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|LETTERS TO THE EDITOR|
[edited and updated]
I am new to the paging world but have a question.
[The . . .] BR802 pager [...] they [...] are VHF on 158.700 MHz. My question is VHF different from normal POCSAG or FLEX pagers . . . ?
Oh, and I love your newsletters. Keep up the great work.
It is an honor to receive your questions. VHF refers to the frequency band , while 158.700 MHz refers to the actual frequency within that band. Some examples:
FLEX and POCSAG refer to the type of encoding used on that particular pager. There are several others but FLEX and POCSAG are the two most widely used now-a-days.
There are several tutorials on my Paging Information Resource that you may find useful.
Reference Section: http://www.braddye.com/paging.html
I recommend that you start with this one:
And then these:
P.S. I love to receive these kinds of requests for information. If oldtimers like me don't share what we have learned with the younger generation, lots of valuable data will be lost when we are gone.
When I started writing technical and marketing papers — at Motorola Paging — about 25 years ago — I confided to a colleague that I was a little embarrassed to be writing these things because there were so many people much-more qualified to do so. He said something like, “That may or may not be true Brad, but they aren't writing anything for publication, and if you don't do it, it probably won't get done.”
Readers have an open invitation to contribute information related to Paging and Text Messaging.
Let's pass it on!
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|THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK|
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
“Non nobis solum nati sumus.”
“Give, but give until it hurts.”
|PHOTO OF THE WEEK|
|Source:||NBC News||ALESSANDRO DI MEO / EPA|
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