|Wireless News Aggregation|
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This Week's Wireless News
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This doesn't mean that nothing is ever published here that mentions a US political party—it just means that the editorial policy of this newsletter is to remain neutral on all political issues. We don't take sides.
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. I don't intend to hurt anyone's feelings, but I do freely express my own opinions.
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There is not a lot of news about Paging these days but when anything significant comes out, you will probably see it here. I also cover text messaging to other devices and various articles about related technology.
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Why Surround Sound Doesn’t Make Sense for Music
ANDREW HEINZMAN — SEP 14, 2022, 6:33 PM EDT
Due to a growing interest in home theaters and “Spatial Audio,” surround sound music is back on the map. But I believe that this is just a trend. Music sounds awful in surround sound, and without massive advancements in technology, stereo will remain the format of choice.
Just to be crystal clear, I’m talking about surround sound audio. Your massive 7.1-channel speaker system can play music in stereo, and in fact, it will sound great when doing so.
Table of Contents
What Is Surround Sound?
Modern audio is usually recorded in stereo. It’s a very simple format—you have a left and right channel, and each channel corresponds to a speaker. Carefully mixing audio across these channels creates the illusion of depth or width, which makes music feel more energetic or lifelike.
But surround sound adds a couple of extra audio channels to the mix. A 5.1-channel setup includes a left and right speaker, a center speaker, a subwoofer, and two “surround” speakers that sit at an angle behind the listener. This provides more separation for audio frequencies, but more notably, it gives you a “3D soundstage” with audio that comes from all directions.
Things get even wackier when you use a 7.1-channel system, which adds rear-firing speakers behind the listener. And the next step, a 7.1.2-channel setup, adds two upward-firing speakers that bounce audio off the ceiling.
Surround sound is primarily intended for movies. And generally speaking, each speaker in a surround setup serves a purpose. The center-channel speaker, for instance, is supposed to provide clarity for dialog.
But over the last two decades, music listeners have slowly grown more interested in surround sound. And the rise in Apple’s Spatial Audio format has only added fuel to the fire.
Surround Sound Doesn’t Make Sense for Music
Nearly all of the recorded music on Earth was written, arranged, and mixed for stereo. But listening to music in stereo isn’t the same thing as hearing a live band in real life. Stereo imaging has limitations and strengths, which often dictate the instrumentation, structure, rhythm, and effects used by an artist.
Surround sound has a unique set of pros and cons—you get a wider soundstage, but you’re also forced to fill more “3D” space. Certain audio frequencies have more room to “breathe” in surround sound, but the format can be unkind to the midrange, which is where we traditionally get a song’s “energy.”
In order to take advantage of surround sound’s limitations and strengths, artists need to make music specifically for the format. But that’s not how things work, at least not today.
Most songs available in surround sound were originally made for stereo. Someone just decided to remix these tracks for surround sound. And the results are usually awful. Taking advantage of the expanded soundstage means panning instruments willy-nilly around the listener, leaving uneven gaps where instruments used to meld together and create lushness.
Rear speakers are often the most annoying part of these surround sound remixes. In a perfect world, rear-firing speakers would reproduce the sound of a room, giving you a better feel for the environment where something was recorded. But it’s hard to produce this effect after something’s already been recorded.
In the end, rear speakers are often the dumping ground for “less important” instruments, such as tambourines. If you’re lucky, a surround sound remix will use the rear speakers to swirl something around your head. But unless you’re listening to someone like Jimi Hendrix, who pioneered similar effects in stereo recordings, the “spinning around my head” thing feels like a cheap trick.
Artist intent is also a factor in this conversation. If a song was originally conceived in stereo, then remixing it for a different format may obscure the artist’s original ideas or goals. (Admittedly, this is at the bottom of my “things I care about” list. Artists don’t get to choose which songs I enjoy, I just feel bad for them when their work is butchered.)
Again, I’m not telling you to throw away your Dolby Atmos setup. Stereo music sounds great on multi-channel systems; you just need to set your receiver to “stereo” mode. And hey, maybe surround sound music will be worthwhile some day.
But Surround Sound Could Be the Future of Music
There’s nothing worse than being a purist. Music has always developed alongside technology, and dismissing surround sound as “something that only works for movies” is a very narrow-minded way of thinking.
It took decades for stereo audio to become the industry standard. And stereo started off with the same “problem” as surround sound—if a track wasn’t recorded with stereo in mind, it sounded like a gimmick! (Just ask any of those hardcore Motown or Beatles fans who swear by the mono mixes.)
Classical music was the first genre to really take stereo seriously. Large orchestras benefited from increased separation, and more importantly, stereo provided an experience more akin to seeing a concert in person. Surround sound follows a similar trajectory; I rarely see complaints when this technology is utilized for live concerts, but albums are (rightfully) a controversial topic.
At some point, the benefits of surround sound may be impossible to ignore. We’re talking about a technology that offers much wider separation than stereo. Artists could fit more information into a recording without losing clarity, or they could create songs that are incredibly open and lifelike.
It will take a ton of work and problem-solving, but surround sound has the potential to replace stereo.
Here’s the hurdle; large 5.1-channel audio systems are expensive and take up a ton of space. If surround sound is the next step for music, it won’t come around until single-channel or dual-channel systems can emulate the sound of a larger setup. That would require some ridiculous advancements in beam-forming speakers, virtualized Dolby Atmos, and other technologies that are still in their infancy.
What About Spatial Audio?
Over the last few years, brands like Sony and Apple have pioneered “virtual surround sound” systems for headphones and earbuds. These systems are unique from brand to brand, with names like “Spatial Audio” and “360 Reality Audio.” But they all perform the same basic task—they deliver a surround sound experience through regular headphones and earbuds.
Now, most people assume that Spatial Audio is just a software trick. But that’s only partially true. Spatial Audio takes a real surround sound recording, smothers it in algorithms, and outputs a stereo audio signal that seems “3D.”
For music listeners, Spatial Audio presents the same problems as surround sound. But it also comes with a unique and frustrating problem—listening environment emulation.
Platforms like Spatial Audio need to replicate the sound of a room with a 5.1-channel or 7.1-channel setup. To do this, they apply audio effects to each channel of a surround sound track. And in my experience, these effects often make instruments sound distant, dull, or echoed.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure that mixing engineers can really get around this problem. Platforms like Spatial Audio and 360 Reality Audio are far from identical. Even if you mix a song specifically for Apple’s Spatial Audio, there’s no guarantee that it’ll sound good on a competitor’s platform.
As a fan of music, it’s hard for me to see Spatial Audio technology as anything more than a novelty. But I have a feeling that it’s a stopgap for future developments (which hopefully don’t suck). Again, developments in Dolby Atmos virtualization and beam-forming speakers could revolutionize music—it just won’t happen any time soon.
Brad's note: “This is a very well written article, but I don't agree with the conclusion that surround sound is just a novelty. Check out Apple's streaming music service—it's not just coming on strong—it has arrived! I am a subscriber.”
Paging Transmitters 150/900 MHz
The RFI High Performance Paging Transmitter is designed for use in campus, city, state and country-wide paging systems. Designed for use where reliable simulcast systems where RF signal overlap coverage is critical.
Built-in custom interface for Prism-IPX ipBSC Base Controller for remote control, management and alarm reporting.
Prism-IPX Systems LLC.
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|PRISM IPX Systems|
Thousands of Users Worldwide Depend on Prism IPX
Our Customers Trust Us To Make Sure That Their Messages Get Delivered
Providing Expert Support and Service Contracts for all Glenayre Paging Systems.
The GL3000 is the most prolific paging system in the world and Easy Solutions gladly welcomes you to join us in providing reliable support to the paging industry for many more decades in the future.
Easy Solutions provides cost effective computer and wireless solutions at affordable prices. We can help in most any situation with your communications systems. We have many years of experience and a vast network of resources to support the industry, your system and an ever changing completive landscape.
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Please see our web site for exciting solutions designed specifically for the Wireless Industry. We also maintain a diagnostic lab and provide important repair and replacement parts services for Motorola and Glenayre equipment. Call or
Green Energy Fuels China’s Economy, Hurts Our Planet?
Rex Lee is a friend and frequent contributor to this newsletter. He was recently interviewed by China in Focus. “. . . regarding green energy technologies of which [he] identified/expose some news worthy conflicts of interest regarding the Inflation Reduction Act/Green New Deal and elected officials, climate envoy John Kerry, and Chinese companies who stand to profit off of the new bill/climate legislation.”
I would like to recommend Easy Solutions for Support of all Glenayre Paging Equipment. This Texas company is owned and operated by Vaughan Bowden. I have known Vaughan for over 35 years. Without going into a long list of his experience and qualifications, let me just say that he was the V.P. of Engineering at PageNet which was—at that time—the largest paging company in the world. So Vaughan knows Paging.
GTES is no longer offering support contracts. GTES was the original group from Vancouver that was setup to offer support to customers that wanted to continue with the legacy Glenayre support. Many U.S. customers chose not to use this service because of the price and the original requirement to upgrade to version 8.0 software (which required expensive hardware upgrades, etc.). Most contracts ended as of February 2018.
If you are at all concerned about future support of Glenayre products, especially the “king of the hill” the GL3000 paging control terminal, I encourage you to talk to Vaughan about a service contract and please tell him about my recommendation.
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INTERNET Protocol Terminal
The IPT accepts INTERNET or serial messaging using various protocols and can easily convert them to different protocols, or send them out as paging messages.
An ideal platform for hospitals, on-site paging applications, or converting legacy systems to modern protocols.
Prism-IPX Systems LLC.
Paging Data Receiver PDR-4
The PDR-4 is a multi-function paging data receiver that decodes paging messages and outputs them via the serial port, USB or Ethernet connectors.
Designed for use with Prism-IPX ECHO software Message Logging Software to receive messages and log the information for proof of transmission over the air, and if the data was error free.
Prism-IPX Systems LLC.
Wireless Network Planners
R.H. (Ron) Mercer
How to Understand Surround Sound Systems for Beginners
BY JAYRIC MANING PUBLISHED AUG 20, 2022
Surround sound is a technique used to provide an immersive audio experience to the listener. For a long time, surround sound could only be experienced in a theater. Thankfully, with new technologies and modern advancements in design and manufacturing, many surround sound systems are now affordable enough for people to have them in the comfort of their houses.
If you are interested in installing surround sound in your home and plan to buy a system or curate the parts yourself, you must first understand how it works.
How Does Surround Sound Work?
Surround sound systems immerses the listeners in a sense of realism. When you experience surround sound, you feel like you are part of the movie. For surround sound to work, you'll need three things: media with audio mixed for surround sound, a proper audiovisual (AV) receiver, and an assortment of speakers properly placed around your sitting area.
To fully understand how a surround sound system works, let us first talk about standard surround sound formats, then proceed to various items needed for surround sound, before ending with the standard speaker placements.
Common Surround Sound Speaker Configuration
You may have heard of various surround sound terms such as "5.1", "7.1", or even "9.1.2". You may confuse it with a version number, but it is just a naming convention to know how many speakers you have in a room at different heights.
A surround sound format would have three numbers separated by a dot like this X.X.X.
The first number denotes the number of ear-level speakers, the second is for the number of subwoofers, and the third is for the number of speakers above the ear level.
A 5.1.0 configuration would mean five ear-level speakers, one subwoofer, and zero over-ear-level speakers. If the configuration doesn't use an over-ear speaker (the third variable), you simply identify the system as surround sound 5.1 (without the zero).
Now that you understand the conventions of naming the different surround sound configurations. Let's talk about the most common configurations and why they are popular.
Surround Sound 5.1
The surround sound 5.1 is the most popular speaker configuration for surround sound. Many households use this surround sound configuration as it uses the least amount of speakers and can still provide a true surround sound experience.
This setup uses five speakers and one subwoofer. To achieve this configuration, two satellite speakers are placed front left and front right of the viewer, two main speakers rear left and rear right, a center speaker in the middle directly in front of the listener, and a subwoofer anywhere near the setup.
Surround Sound 7.1
Surround sound 7.1 is a balanced step from surround sound 5.1. With just two more speakers, this system produces an even more convincing surround sound experience. The configuration of this system is exactly the same as 5.1 but with two extra satellite speakers placed at the sides of the viewer.
Surround Sound 9.2.2
With surround sound 9.2.2, the setup now uses nine ear-level speakers, two subwoofers, and two overhead or ceiling speakers. This surround sound system is ideal for larger areas where you can't place ear-level speakers at the center of the room. In addition, the extra subwoofer and ceiling speakers provide an even surround sound experience throughout the room.
What Speakers and Hardware Are Used in Surround Sound Systems?
Now that you know the most common surround sound configurations, let's talk about the items you'll need to make your surround sound system. Although you can use just about any full-range speakers in the market, the best setups split different audio signals between specialized speakers.
Remember, it doesn't have to be a home theater setup (although it is the most common). You can also build a system just for playing music.
1. Center Channel Speaker
As the name implies, a center channel speaker is a speaker placed at the front center of a surround sound system. A good center speaker covers the full audio spectrum detectable by human ears. To cover such a spectrum, these speakers often utilize three types of speaker drivers: tweeter, midrange drivers, and woofer. If you can only afford a small setup, a center channel speaker with a single full-range driver should do.
2. Main Left and Right Speakers
The main left and right speakers are placed beside the center channel speaker. The main left and right speakers can be a variety of speakers, such as a bookshelf speaker and floor standing speaker. Just like the center channel speaker, these speakers employ two or three types of speaker drivers (tweeter, midrange driver, woofer) to cover a broad spectrum of the human audible sound spectrum.
3. Satellite Speakers/Surround Speakers
Satellite or surround speakers are placed at the side and back of the listening/viewing area. They cover mid to high audio frequencies using tweeters and mid-range speaker drivers. They are often floor-standing speakers, but they can also be wall-attached so long as they are placed at the side or back of the listening/viewing area.
A subwoofer is a type of speaker that covers the low and very low sound frequencies. Due to the low sound frequencies they cover, people within the effective range of a subwoofer will feel that rumbling-like effect you usually get at the theaters. Subwoofers are often the largest speakers within the system. The bigger the subwoofer, the more air it can move, and the more noticeable its effects are within the room.
5. Ceiling Speakers/Overhead Speakers
Ceiling speakers are any speakers placed above head level. They cover the same audio frequencies as surround speakers just at an overhead placement. These speakers are important in achieving object-based surround sound, such as the one utilized in Dolby Atmos. Aside from providing object-based surround capabilities, they also balance the audio inside a large room as they can be placed nearby the center of the room if floor-standing speakers are too intrusive.
6. AV Receiver
With the number of speakers you need for a surround sound system, you'll need an AV receiver to bind it all together. The AV receiver is an electronic device that acts as the brain or your home entertainment system. It provides all the ports you'll need to connect all your speakers, TV/projector, and other devices like a DVD player. Modern AV receivers now support various surround sound formats, such as Dolby Atmos and DTS—more on these in a moment.
The key to a great surround sound experience is correct speaker placements. Ear-level speakers such as the center channel, main left and right, ceiling, and satellite speakers must be placed in their correct areas, with drivers directly facing the listener/viewer. On the other hand, subwoofers can be placed anywhere inside the room as low frequencies are hard to distort and can easily be heard anywhere their audio waves travel.
Popular Surround Sound Formats
With the correct speakers and correct surround sound configurations, you are almost ready to enjoy an amazing surround sound experience. The last ingredient to a true surround sound experience is finding the right type of media that supports your system.
Dolby Atmos is currently the most popular surround sound format used in home theaters. In addition, you can find lots of movies and media mixed for Dolby Atmos at various subscription-based entertainment services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus.
Dolby Atmos supports up to 24 speakers on the floor and up to ten overhead speakers. This means it can support just about any object-based surround sound configuration you can have inside a home. In addition, having overhead speakers allows Dolby Atmos to provide object-based surround sound that adds even more realism to the listening or viewing experience.
The problem with Dolby Atmos is that it requires you to have overhead speakers. This isn't too bad since you can just add an overhead speaker to your current 5.1 or 7.1 configurations, and you'll be able to experience object-based surround sound.
Don't have the time to upgrade your current surround sound system? You can still use Dolby Digital! This format supports all the popular legacy configurations such as 5.1 and 7.1.
DTS and DTS:X
Just like Dolby Atmos, DTS provides object-based surround sound. It can support up to 32 speaker locations and up to an 11.2 surround sound configuration. The problem with DTS is that there are currently no streaming services that support DTS. The only practical way to enjoy DTS is through Blu-ray and DVD. The upside to DTS is that it supports legacy configurations such as 5.1 and 7.1.
Now You Can Build Your Surround Sound System
That's just about all the basic things you'll need to understand when building your surround sound system. Remember, you'll need the right speakers, a standard surround sound configuration, an AV that supports the surround sound format you want, and media (movie, music, video, games) mixed for the specific format.
If you find building out a surround sound system intimidating, there are premade systems from reputable brands like Logitech and JBL that you can try. These systems come complete with speakers, AV receivers, and even stands, mounts, and instructions to help you install their system.
Brad Dye, Ron Mercer, Allan Angus, and Ira Wiesenfeld are friends and colleagues who work both together and independently, on wireline and wireless communications projects.
Click here for a summary of their qualifications and experience. Each one has unique abilities. We would be happy to help you with a project, and maybe save you some time and money.
Note: We do not like Patent Trolls, i.e. “a person or company who enforces patent rights against accused infringers in an attempt to collect licensing fees, but does not manufacture products or supply services based upon the patents in question.” We have helped some prominent law firms defend their clients against this annoyance, and would be happy to do some more of this same kind of work.
Some people use the title “consultant” when they don't have a real job. We actually do consulting work, and help others based on our many years of experience.
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Remote AB Switches
ABX-1 switches are often used at remote transmitter sites to convert from old, outdated and unsupported controllers to the new modern Prism-IPX ipBSC base station controllers. Remotely switch to new controllers with GUI commands.
ABX-3 switches are widely used for enabling or disabling remote equipment and switching I/O connections between redundant messaging systems.
Prism-IPX Systems LLC.
U.S. Safety Agency Warns People to Stop Buying Male-to-Male Extension Cords on Amazon
"When plugged into a generator or outlet, the opposite end has live electricity," the Consumer Product Safety Commission explained.
By Matt Novak Today 7:00 AM
Electrical extension cords are tremendously useful for powering devices when your gadget’s power cord isn’t long enough to reach an electrical outlet. Normal extension cords have a so-called male plug that goes into the wall and a female plug at the end where you can plug in your device. There’s absolutely no reason for male-to-male extension cords to exist, but they do. And they’re available on Amazon, much to the exhaustion of federal safety regulators.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a strange new warning on Thursday, telling consumers they should stop buying male-to-male extension cords on Amazon. The cords are apparently sold to people under the theory that plugging one end into a home’s electrical outlet and another end into a gas generator will get the home electrified. But you obviously should not do something this stupid.
“The extension cords have two male ends (a three-prong plug) and are generally used to ‘back-feed’ electricity to a residence during a power outage by connecting a generator to an outlet in the home. When plugged into a generator or outlet, the opposite end has live electricity posing a risk of serious shock or electrocution,” CPSC explained in a post on its website.
Again, don’t try to do this. It’s idiotic and unsafe. But CSPC felt it needed to make this warning explicit.
“Additionally, the flow of electric power in the direction reverse to that of the typical flow of power circumvents safety features of the home’s electrical system and can result in a fire. The short length of some of these cords also encourages use of a generator near the home, which could create a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Furthermore, these cords do not comply with applicable national safety codes, such as National Fire Protection Association 70 (NFPA 70),” the CPSC statement continues.
If you read reviews for these kinds of cords on Amazon, you’ll notice people calling them “suicide cords,” and with good reason. Stop buying these cords. They’re not safe.
|Inside Towers Newsletter|
Ligado Won’t Conduct L-Band Trial in Virginia
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief
Ligado Networks told the FCC this week it won’t go through with a planned trial deployment on its L-band spectrum in northern Virginia. In a letter to the agency, Ligado told the Commission it needs time to discuss with NTIA how “to resolve in a fair and reasonable manner issues relating to the government’s ongoing use of Ligado’s terrestrial spectrum.”
Ligado made the decision following a report released by the National Academies of Sciences found that while most GPS receivers won’t face interference from Ligado’s wireless network, Iridium’s mobile satellite services used by the DoD would likely see “harmful interference.” So would some older GPS receivers, Inside Towers reported.
In 2020, the FCC approved Ligado’s application to develop a 5G terrestrial network in L-band, next to frequencies used by GPS and satellite communications. The agency made the decision over the objections of NTIA, DoD, and other federal security agencies.
In March, Ligado said it planned to conduct trials in the 1526–1536 MHz band on or after September 30, Inside Towers reported. It said it was giving GPS users an FCC-required six months’ notice.
Commenting on the National Academies of Sciences report, the DoD said it confirms its “long standing view that Ligado’s system will interfere with critical GPS receivers and that it is impractical to mitigate the impact of that interference.” The DoD also extended an olive branch, noting it “looks forward to continuing to work with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, FCC and Ligado on this complex and important issue.”
An Iridium spokesperson told Nextgov the study, “clearly demonstrates what the rest of the industry has known for years: the prior FCC order failed to fully consider the risk of harmful interference posed to mission-critical satellite systems.”
After the National Academies of Sciences report came out, Ligado said the study confirmed the FCC’s findings that its operations can coexist with most GPS operations. “Now that the review is completed, it is our sincere hope the DoD and the NTIA will stop blocking Ligado’s license authority and focus instead on working with Ligado to resolve potential impacts relating to all DoD systems, including but not limited to GPS,” Ligado stated.
|Source:||Inside Towers newsletter|| Courtesy of the editor of Inside Towers, Jim Fryer.
Inside Towers is a daily newsletter by subscription.
CORES Open for Annual Regulatory Fee Payments, due September 28
On September 8, the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing that the CORES system is now open for payment of FY 2022 regulatory fees. Regulatory fee payments must be received by the Commission no later than 11:59 PM, Eastern Daylight Time, on September 28.
As we reported in a previous edition of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, in December 2021, the FCC discontinued the use of the Fee Filer system and incorporated this system into CORES. Carriers with questions on fee payments may contact the firm for more information.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Richard Rubino.
FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for September Open Meeting
On September 8, the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing the tentative agenda for its upcoming Open Meeting, currently scheduled for September 29. At the meeting, the FCC will tentatively consider:
Each summary above contains a link to the draft text of each item expected to be considered at this Open Meeting. However, it is possible that changes will be made before the Meeting. One-page cover sheets prepared by the FCC are included in the public drafts to help provide an additional summary.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
FCC Chairwoman Proposes Cybersecurity Changes to Emergency Alert System
Following the discovery of vulnerabilities last month, FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel has circulated an NPRM with her colleagues proposing action to bolster the security of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts. These systems warn the public about emergencies through alerts on their televisions, radios, and wireless phones.
If adopted by a vote of the full Commission, this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would seek comment on:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) last month issued a warning to participants in the EAS that vulnerabilities can be used to allow threat actors to issue alerts over TV, radio, and cable networks. FEMA did not specify the issues in the warning system but said they are found in EAS encoder/decoder devices that have not been updated to the most recent software versions. A cybersecurity researcher in August demonstrated proof of the security vulnerability at the DEF CON 2022 conference in Las Vegas.
FEMA strongly encourages EAS participants to make sure that their devices and supporting systems are up to date with all security patches and protected by a firewall. They also recommend that all EAS devices and supporting systems are monitored and audit logs are “regularly reviewed looking for unauthorized access.”
FEMA Press Secretary Jeremy Edwards said the agency is working with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to assist “broadcast partners to help correct this issue.” Edwards added that the vulnerability does not directly impact any of FEMA’s systems.
BloostonLaw Contact: Cary Mitchell
USDA Begins Accepting Applications for ReConnect 4
On September 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that USDA is now accepting applications for ReConnect Program loans and grants to expand access to high-speed Internet. A part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, approximately $1 billion is available to the program, for loans with available funds of $150 million, grants with available funds of $700 million, and combination loan/grant awards using $300 million. The application deadline is November 2. BloostonLaw attorneys are available to assist in the application and post-aware processes.
Some changes to the ReConnect Program for the current round of applications include:
Additionally, to ensure that rural households in need of Internet service can afford it, all awardees under this funding round will be required to apply to participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP offers a discount of up to $30 per month towards Internet service to qualifying low-income households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal Lands. As a result, ACP-eligible households can receive Internet at no cost and can sign up and check their eligibility at GetInternet.gov.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Sal Taillefer.
Law and Regulation
FCC Extends Annual High-Cost Use Certification Deadline to October 31
On September 6, the FCC issued a Press Release announcing a limited waiver of its rules regarding the filing deadline for states or eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) not subject to the jurisdiction of a state to certify the proper use of federal high-cost universal service support. Under this limited waiver, states or ETCs must file the section 54.314 certification with the Universal Service Administrative Company by October 31, 2022.
The FCC’s rules require states to certify annually that federal high-cost support awarded to ETCs within that state has been used and will be used “only for the provision, maintenance, and upgrading of facilities and services for which the support is intended.” In order for a carrier to be eligible for high-cost universal service support for all of calendar year 2023, a section 54.314 certification must normally be submitted to the FCC by October 1.
As we reported in a previous edition of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, the deadline for this year’s FCC Form 481 was extended until July 29, due to the need to obtain Paperwork Reduction Act approval. Given that States rely in part on information filed annually by ETCs in the pursuant to section 54.313 in developing their own section 54.314 certifications, the FCC granted the instant limited waiver on its own motion.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Sal Taillefer.
Inspector General Issues Advisory on ACP Enrollment Fraud
On September 8, the FCC’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued an Advisory warning that some Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) providers and their agents are making fraudulent program enrollments by using the same child or dependent to qualify multiple households for simultaneous ACP support.
Under the rules, one way to qualify for benefits is through a Benefit Qualifying Person (BQP)—a household member other than the subscriber, such as a child or dependent, who meets one of the ACP eligibility requirements. The Advisory describes 12 BQPs who were used by providers and their agents to enroll between 135 and 1,042 ACP households each. Providers have collected more than $1.4 million in connection with those enrollments alone. The Advisory also notes many more BQPs were used to make dozens of household enrollments and that these fraud schemes are ongoing.
Inspector General David L. Hunt said, “Providers are responsible for implementing policies and procedures for ensuring an ACP household is eligible under program rules. Providers who continue to seek program support each month after failing to properly train and monitor their sales agents’ enrollment activity will be held accountable.”
The Advisory is available at https://www.fcc.gov/document/oig-advisory-regarding-acp-enrollment-fraud.
BloostonLaw Contact: Sal Taillefer.
Report Finds Ligado’s Proposed Network Will Interfere with Pentagon’s Mobile Satellite Service
On September 9, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) issued a press release on a report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) committee on Ligado’s planned deployment of terrestrial services and its potential to interfere with GPS capabilities essential for DoD’s mission execution. The report was mandated as part of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.
According to the press release, the NASEM study confirms that Ligado's system will interfere to some extent with DoD GPS receivers, specifically high-precision GPS receivers. The study also confirms that Iridium satellite communications used by the Pentagon will experience harmful interference caused by Ligado user terminals. The study also concludes that the FCC’s proposed mitigation and replacement measures are impractical, cost prohibitive, and possibly ineffective.
“It is complex, there are significant economic, legal, and regulatory issues at play that have been debated and analyzed for a very long time,” said Michael McQuade, NASEM committee chair. His comments were perhaps less absolute than the DoD’s press release. “We do conclude that most commercially produced general navigation timing cellular or certified GPS receivers will not experience significant harmful interference from Ligado emissions as authorized by the FCC,” said McQuade. “The receivers that are potentially most vulnerable are the high precision receivers.”
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 FCC 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.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Gerry Duffy and Sal Taillefer.
SEPTEMBER 30: FCC FORM 611-T, DESIGNATED ENTITY REPORT. Each year on September 30, entities that won licenses at auction with bid credits must file a combined 611-T Designated Entity report for any licenses still subject to the “unjust enrichment” rule, which requires licensees to maintain their eligibility for small business and rural service provider bid credits for the first five years of the license term.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Cary Mitchell.
OCTOBER 15: 911 RELIABILITY CERTIFICATION. 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 certify that they have taken 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 by October 15. Certifications must be made through the FCC’s portal.
BloostonLaw Contact: Sal Taillefer.
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.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and John Prendergast.
Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP is a telecommunications law firm representing rural telecommunications companies, wireless carriers, private radio licensees, cable TV companies, equipment manufacturers and industry associations before the FCC and the courts, as well as state and local government agencies. Our clients range from Fortune 500 companies to small and medium-sized enterprises whose vitality and efficiency depend on the effective deployment of communications.
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Do you know any companies still making labels for pager fronts? Our old company that we used stop making them and I'm struggling to find a new company. Thanks in advance.
Wayne Pecena begins a series on useful concepts
Ethernet cabling may not be the most exciting topic, and as a result it can be taken for granted when a broadcast engineer builds the information technology infrastructure of a broadcast station.
But industry research suggests that the most common causes of Ethernet failures in a network or IT system are found in the cabling and connectors.
An Ethernet cable is just an Ethernet cable, it might seem; however, that is far from reality. There are several varieties of Ethernet in use, and choosing the right cable is important to ensure a reliable network that meets the performance capabilities.
Understanding industry terminology is often the key to applying technology correctly. The days of coaxial cable-based Ethernet are long gone from our broadcast systems, with the bus-based architecture replaced with a star-based topology utilizing a twisted-pair copper cable between a host device and an Ethernet switch port.
So what are the differences in Ethernet cables? The question can be answered in a couple of ways.
One approach is to look at the various cable category classifications to choose an Ethernet cable based on the required bandwidth performance characteristics for your application.
Performance characteristics commonly include bandwidth, transmission speed and maximum cable length, as illustrated in the accompanying chart.
Unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cable can be used up to 100 meters in length if Category 5e (CAT-5e) cabling is used. Shielded twisted-pair (STP) is capable of 10 Gbps up to 55 meters in length if Category 6a (CAT-6a) cabling is used. And even 100 Gbps up to 15 meters is possible over individual pairs in foil and an overall cable braided shield (S/FTP).
Another approach is to consider the cable installation environment and choose the physical construction of the Ethernet cable that fits the application and environment. Environmental considerations include the use of plenum-rated cable to meet building fire-code regulations. It is likely these cables would be required when the cabling is run through air circulation space in buildings. Plenum cable is manufactured with an overall, fire-resistant jacket such as Teflon so that if exposed to heat. the cable will not emit dangerous fumes. Plenum-rated Ethernet cable will have a CMP-rated jacket that is certified by Underwriters Laboratories.
Other environmental conditions might require outside cable installation where ultraviolet-resistant (UV) cable should be used. Out door-rated cable is also desirable due to the moisture-blocking characteristics and life expectancy that will vary in temperature extremes.
Direct-bury cable is available, providing a heavier overall jacket and additional moisture protection by wrapping waterproof tape around the conductors and impregnating or flooding the cable with waterproof gel. Outdoor and direct-bury-rated Ethernet cable will have a CMX rated jacket.
One consideration often overlooked when selecting Ethernet cabling is the use of Power over Ethernet, or PoE. IEEE 802.3xx PoE standards provide a nominal 48 Vdc to powered host devices with different PoE power capability ranging from a 12.95-watt limit under 802.3af standard to up to 100 watts under the 802.3bt standard.
Factors that must be considered include the temperature rating of the cable due to heat rise resulting from resistance loss of the conductor pairs and overall power insertion loss.
Use of 23 AWG-based conductor cable is preferred over the more common 26 AWG conductors when PoE is used.
When installing Ethernet cabling, I would look to CAT-6a or CAT-6 category cabling with the appropriate environmental rating. CAT-6 should be preferred over the shielded CAT-6a when PoE is utilized,especially when the higher-watt age PoE devices are used due to the ability of shielded cable to dissipate less heat.
Proper cable installation is also critical to ensure performance, especially in higher-bandwidth applications. Common recommended installation practices specify a minimum bending radius of the cable, bundling cables together (especially when PoE is utilized), and placement adjacent to other cabling such as AC power cables.
Use of the proper connector is critical to maintain system reliability. Shielded cable requires a shielded RJ-45 connector to maintain the noise immunity performance.
Not all Ethernet cables are created equal. The age-old twisted-pair copper cable can transport an increasing amount of data (and power) in our technical plant if the proper cable category and rating is chosen for the application. And the popularity, cost, ease of installation and termination of twisted-pair copper cannot be beat!
Stay tuned for my next article, which will focus on the topology utilizing a twisted-pair copper cable between a host device and an Ethernet switch port.
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