The Citizens Broadband Radio Service – An Overview

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The Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), is a spectrum sharing plan that provides a more efficient alternative to the traditional methods of allocating spectrum. In April 2016, the FCC finalized rules for spectrum sharing, authorizing 150 MHz of new spectrum – originally used by the Navy and other Department of Defense personnel – for commercial uses on a shared basis with the incumbent users of the spectrum. Continue reading “The Citizens Broadband Radio Service – An Overview”

Carpenter v. U.S. – Implications For Smart Cities

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The Supreme Court’s decision on the privacy of cell phone records in Carpenter v. United States, and the need for law enforcement to obtain a warrant, could have implications for the future of smart, connected cities.

The smart building of the future contains a variety of sensors, from heat and motion sensors that detect how many people are in a room, to metal detectors for hotels.  Outside of the building, cities are putting sensors in the street for Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC), which will connect vehicles to infrastructure to avoid accidents (and more).  These are just a few of the connected environment sensors that is part of our near future.  IoT devices already outnumber the world’s population.  Here’s a nice presentation from Bosch on just some of what a connected city will enable.

These smart city/smart building technologies will be tied back to databases which represent a treasure trove of information for city/building planners, energy providers and…….. law enforcement.

Where does this data reside?  Does it reside with the municipality (for DSCR, traffic cameras, etc.), with the building owner, or with Google (who has your mapping information)?  Can a third party purchase that information from the municipality for data analytics (perhaps Facebook)?  Can law enforcement access this information, and under what non-emergency conditions?  If law enforcement is provided such access, how do we ensure the chain of custody of that data?

Should a building owner be required to provide building information, and if the owner does so without a warrant, should the building owner be required to provide you with affirmative notice when you enter?  Can you opt-out of providing this information to the building owner?

These questions have consequences for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).  FirstNet is designed to be a nationwide broadband system for police and fire fighters.  One of the most powerful uses of the network is to give first responders the ability to harness the power of IoT in order to enable better information upon which to act in emergencies.  For example, access to internal video cameras at the Washington Navy Yard would have enabled police on the outside of the building to know the location and number of shooter(s) inside the building during the incident in 2013.  If the building was a private facility, instead of a government facility, does accessing inside building IoT represent a unreasonable search and seizure?

As a participant in the Telecommunications Industries Association’s (TIA) Smart Buildings Program, I see opportunities to create simply amazing technologically advanced buildings that resemble the best of Star Trek.

I do not suggest or recommend any answers to these questions here.  However, it is a conversation that must be had as a society, and considered prior to the issue arising in a litigation context.  Part of that discussion will be shaped by the Carpenter decision, which certainly would seem to suggest that access to many of the potential data users discussed above will require a warrant.

Connectivity and analytics of shared information is an important part of creating a more efficient future and limiting the use of our planet’s scarce natural resources, with the hope of making a better world for all.  How that future isn’t considered to be a “Big Brother” future is a conversation to have now.

800 MHz Post-Rebanding Interference – What You Need To Know

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On November 6, 2017, the FCC held an Open Forum on Interference from broadband systems to public safety land mobile radio operations.  We were honored to have been asked to participate.

During the session, we were asked about our efforts to provide education to the public safety community about the issue.  We told the FCC about our half day interference workshops at the International Wireless Communications Expo (which we’ve done multiple times), presentations at numerous APCO meetings, and magazine articles.  The Commission urged us to keep getting the word out, and so this is the purpose of this blog post. Continue reading “800 MHz Post-Rebanding Interference – What You Need To Know”

The Elimination Of Net Neutrality Must Protect Public Safety

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A Fact Sheet was recently issued by Democratic FCC Commissioner Clyburn on the FCC’s proposal to eliminate Net Neutrality.  As noted by the Commissioner, the Rules sought to be repealed were previously upheld as reasonable regulation by the U.S. Court of Appeals.
You may wish to read the Fact Sheet in conjunction with Last Week Tonight’s Story by John Oliver from a couple of years ago.  You might want to move to the 2:30 point of the video to skip the setup jokes.
There are significant questions as to how the elimination of these rules impact public safety communications.  It was originally argued that Net Neutrality would keep carriers from being able to offer public safety preemptive service.  That apparent hurdle was overcome, as can be seen by AT&T’s FirstNet offering as well as Verizon’s competing offering.
It has also been suggested by a former FCC attorney that the absence of Net Neutrality would have a negative impact on public safety.
Public Safety is increasingly dependent upon IP connected services, from transmitter sites with IP-based interoperability, to IoT security, to backhaul and controls, to VOIP E911 calls.
Regardless of which Net Neutrality position you believe in, what is important is that if the FCC continues on its apparent course to “free” providers of their current responsibilities, the final rules must include provisions that specifically preclude the ability of providers to give a reduced prioritization to public safety traffic (or to make them pay more), regardless of whether such traffic is FirstNet related.

Mandatory 6.25 kHz VHF/UHF Narrowbanding? Not Soon!

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A recent FCC decision resulted in some riled up members of the Part 90 land mobile radio community.  Specifically, on July 30 the FCC denied a Waiver Request submitted by the International Municipal Signal Association (IMSA).   IMSA had requested that the FCC waive the requirement that Part 90 VHF & UHF radio manufacturers include a 6.25 kHz bandwidth mode (or equivalent efficiency) into newly type-accepted products. Continue reading “Mandatory 6.25 kHz VHF/UHF Narrowbanding? Not Soon!”

To FirstNet Or Not To FirstNet, That Is Your Question

FireWatching the FirstNet decision making process by states has been a fascinating experience.  As of this date, a number of states have opted-in, at least one state having “barely considered” opting-out.  In contrast, other states have issued RFPs to determine whether in fact alternatives exist which are economically and technically feasible.  The State of Michigan has even gone as far as to select Rivada Networks as a vendor if the state opts-out. Continue reading “To FirstNet Or Not To FirstNet, That Is Your Question”

Shared Part 90 Spectrum Means Monitoring Before Transmitting

Walkie TalkieOn May 16, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to Utility Mapping Services Inc. (UMSI) for its operation of a Trimble R8-Model 2 Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Receiver modem on 461.075 MHz, a Part 90 UHF shared frequency, in a manner that caused interference to co-channel users. Continue reading “Shared Part 90 Spectrum Means Monitoring Before Transmitting”

Should Your State Opt-Out Of FirstNet?

OK, I admit it, the headline is click-bait.  However, given everyone’s opinion on this, now that AT&T is about to roll out state plans, it really is appropriate to fully discuss at this time.

Right now, the proper answer is “I don’t know.”  And the reason for that non-committal response is several fold: (1) you haven’t seen your state plan, so it’s impossible to know yet if the FirstNet plan makes sense for your state, regardless of what you’ve been told by people “in the know”; (2) every state is different, there cannot be a cookie cutter answer. What works for one state may not work for another; and (3) I don’t know what you’ve done so far to research your options. Continue reading “Should Your State Opt-Out Of FirstNet?”