FirstNet Data CenterBoulder Colorado, FirstNet Band 14 Device Review, FirstNet Lab Testing - Chair Lumbard
Lumbard: Several of us took the trip to Boulder, Colorado to meet with FirstNet. We went to the Research and Development Center (Public Safety Communications Research lab) andwitnessed their new emerging test lab. The purpose of this trip was to understand the positioning of the devices. If the committee would remember, we talked a lot about the core, RAN and the processes of the RFP but we have not really had a deep conversation on the devices. So, we wanted to discuss the devices and wanted to have a conversation with the folks atthe FirstNet Chief Technology Office(CTO) in regards to the core as well because that’s still a live round with FirstNet. But, until the RFP is finalized and FirstNet awards the prime vendor, conversation on the core can't get anywhere.
Today, I am here to talk about the devices. We got a chance to go to the lab and evaluate the devices and type of devices they are using. The picture that is provided to you shows some of the examples of the devices that they are considering right now. We were able to ask some of the probing questions about the device testing process.
FirstNet have developed a new facility in Boulder, Colorado. This place will house their brand new test lab. This is a very high grade testing facility consisting ofa high class, clean room and lab. This is open to all the people to come in, test different applications and technologies with the FirstNet network. They will be able to test any device and can test it live on the rays. They have antenna rays at every work station bay and can test with that too. They also have rooms which consist of 60 to 70 decibels of contention with no Radio Frequency (RF) signal. This is the room where all the manufacturer’s devices will be tested.
We actually got to work with the people who are actually testing and monitoring devices and also with the people who are testing the algorithms. The equipment not only has to go through FCC testing, it has to go through sander’s body testing and then go through FirstNet calibration and testing.They are taking Nationwide Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) standards very seriously. FirstNet is making certain that the equipment demonstrates the public safety grade all the way through. You will not be able to find iPhone 7 in these equipment mixes. You may find IOS and Android, but not necessarily find an apple device because they are simply not designed for that level. If you even held these devices, you will realize that these are built for public safety operations. The classifications of the equipment they have are: On Board radios, On Board Band14 devices, much like a power arbitrator that can be mounted in firetruck or Captain’s truck. These are all dual purpose equipment. I was very pleased by what I was seeing.
Imagine that they put one of these devices in a fire truck or captain’s truck or a car, when a vehicle pulls into the emergency response area. It immediately canopies a Band 14 umbrella over that emergency response area andprovides local Wi-Fi. Most of these devices will provide the Band 14 network and also then subtended down to the Wi-Fi network, much likethe Wifi Internet for School Emergencies (WISE) school project in Iowa. These are the On-Board equipment. There are only twoor threevendors they are looking at right now. They appear to be very robust hardware implementations. This will power all your existing equipment that you have right now in your car. Then you havetablets, handheld devices and some of those processes are just ruggedized phones where the radio itself is set up with Band 14 as opposed to Verizon’s Band 13. This is just to set-up for Band 14 but the electronic batteries and everything else is just ruggedized. At that time, they had only three valid devices which are being tested. We were able to see the testing processes that they go through. They have boxes they put things in; they try to get things to scramble with other frequencies. They can isolate it; they can watch how fastit respondsto the network and how it attenuates. Our team was very pleased at the level of technology they are using to test these devices. Phil, is there anything that you would like to add?Anything about the device testing that we experienced?
Groner: I think you covered the device testing very well. I will just add that FirstNet has really done a great job. The staff that we met out there and hiring industry experts who are committed not only toFirstNet, but these are guys who are highly trained technical experts in the field. FirstNet has really done a good job in assembling team members with specialties from the industry, the wireless industry and the LTE industry. It was impressive to seewhatFirstNet has done and how they have tracked in-house talent to help them with the processes.
Lumbard: FirstNet met with the Iowa team, they were very appreciative. They took the time to have a conversation with us. They were also appreciative of the position and posture that Iowa has taken with FirstNet. They were very aware and even communicated back and forth up to the ranks with the FirstNet’s leadership team for our visit. If you are in Boulder, it is worth atry to find a time to visit. It is an impressive operation. This was our first deep dive on devices, to be able to see them, hold them and watch the testing processes. All the process was a good experience. We are not easily enamored with newtechnology, we thought that they were doing a solid job.
Younie: I may have missed your point here. Is this a national center or regional center? What is it?
Lumbard: That is a very good question, Bob. Here is something else we have learned in this process.There is equal move in Europe and equal move in the other parts of the world to do the FirstNet interoperable network. So, this center does represent FirstNet nationally in the United States underneath the act that FirstNet is driving at the moment. However, they work hand in hand and collaborate with devices and network.That is going on Europe on a very same Band 14 type development for an interoperable network. It’s not just the United States that are tackling the Public Safety Broadband idea, it also happening in Europe. So, they collaborate back and forth with that technology very often.
Younie: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
RIVIDA “OPT-OUT” Vendor Review – Lumbard
Lumbard: I have provided some information for you and would like to have a conversation regarding the vendor, RIVADA networks. This vendor has applied or responded to the RFP to be the prime vendor forFirstNet. RIVIDA networks, in a sense, are handling things on the front and back side of this.They are certainly aprime vendor but they are also going to the states trying to persuadeapre “opt-out” position. We have received some information in regard to this announcement. I have been told, and I would like the committee to be aware, that within the next 30 days I will be approached by Rivada networks to talk about “opt-out”. I am not saying that I am going to carry the “opt-out” conversation, but will tell you now that they are very aggressive. They have already announced on September 7th that“RIVADA Networks wins New Hampshire Public Safety Broadband contract”. Rivada has already signed with New Hampshire. However, in the language, New Hampshire has expressed that they have not automatically decided to “opt-out”; they have set themselves in equal positions,not to “opt-in”.
I will read the section for you from the article, “RIVADA Networks Wins New Hampshire Public Safety Broadband Contract”:
“While this is not a decision by New Hampshire to “opt-out”, by choosing Rivada to develop New Hampshire’s alternative to FirstNet’s state plan, “Rivada’s co-CEO and Executive chairman Declan Ganley said, “the state has acted in a timely way to keep its options open.”
So, what they are going to do is to have another plan developed so that they can go “A” to “B”. I wanted to bring this information to you so we understand the strategy. RIVADA is also contending for the prime position for FirstNet. They wanted to be in that prime slot and have an entire public safety communication process arrangement made for that.
I have given you some facts on RivadaNetworks as their name will be coming up here very soon. They are mostly likelycoming to the state to have conversations. If needed, we can invite them to attend the Iowa FirstNet Broadband Committee meeting and have them say what they think or have them meet with the “opt-out” committee which we still have in place to review their point. If you would like to learn more, you can go to their website
“Opt-in/Opt-Out” Updates – Committee
Lumbard: Do you want me to involve the“Opt-In/Opt-Out” committee if Rivada Network comes to the state or do you want me contact the committee and bring all of you in?
Bischof: I think that is appropriate.
Younie: I will leave that up to the discretion of the Chairs. I think it will serve us well to make sure we understand what this committee has to say and what they bring.
Lumbard: Do you remember Dr. Myers? I believe Dr. Michael Myers is actually enlisted in some way behind Rivada to be a consultant down wind or in front of their process. It is possible he will be a broker on the Public Private Partnership (P3) side of that entire conversation. We will just have to see.
Chair Ric Lumbard recommended that the “Opt-In/Opt-Out” committee handle the communication if RIVADA Networks come to Iowa to connect. If need be, the discussion will beopened up to the broader committee.
Tribal Outreach Update – Jontell Harris
As you all know FirstNet extended the opportunity for states to acquire more data from the tribes. We were originally working withMeskwaki tribe to gather data and asked that theyfill out the User and Coverage profile surveys. Unfortunately, we are unable to submit any data to FirstNet for Tribal outreach. I believe it is a good idea to keep following-up with the tribeand try to schedule the update meetings. If they are still able to provide any information that information might still be beneficialwhen the state plan is released.
Lumbard: What’s been the biggest hindrance? Is it connection?
Harris: They are not responding. I called and emailed numeroustimes but have not received any responses. Originally, they mentioned that they are busy with the beginning of the school session.
Lumbard: Have you considered connecting with Margaret?
Harris: I did let Margaret know but I can reach out to her again to see if she has any other suggestions or askher to reach out to the tribe.
Lumbard: I don’t know if she has any different contacts because of her role when she was working withFEMA. She worked with the entire settlement on the flooding from the FEMA prospective. Maybe she has some connections in there. I would not like to take off of the accelerator with that. My suggestions would be to connect with Margarete and see if she is willing to intervene. Also, I would suggest getting with Phil Groner who helped orchestrate some of that. Any tricks up your sleeve, Phil?
Groner: We have had couple conversations with the tribe already. We explained FirstNet, we walked throughthe process. Jontell has done a good job following up with the tribe to acquire the data. We have made all those contacts.
Lumbard: So, we have run out of gas?
Lumbard: I would suggest to through Margaret and see if she can get help from the inside. If we can’t do anything further with that than we will just have to punt. But, I would suggest going through the federal aspect and see if we can get any further assistance. If you can bring us a report on how that goes at that point. I travelby the settlementquite frequently; I can stop by and talk to Janice.
FirstNet Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Update –Jontell Harris
The FirstNet Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement public meeting was on September 7, 2016 in Des Moines. They invited the public and potential interested stakeholders to come and learn about the statements and also talk with FirstNet’s representatives. Tom Lampe and Ric Lumbard were present atthe meeting. FirstNetprovided several documents regarding the EIS statements. I’ve provided the documents to the committee. I think it is a pretty good synopsis of the actual statement. On one of documents, “Potential Impact of Iowa” that has been assessed for Iowa, I noticed that most of the resources are rated as no. 3 which means “Less than significant”. I think I sent this to the committee members electronically, but if you have anyone and want to share these documents, I wouldbe happy to send them to you. Comments are due by October 11, 2016 and there is a page where it explains the steps to submit comments. All the comments received will be public record and will be posted to FirstNet website. After that, all the comments will be reviewed and considered for the final statement
Lumbard: Jontell, when we get the EIS for the BTOP grants, they had to be approved. So, who is the approving body that approves the EIS?
Harris: All I know is the Genevieve Walker is the Director of Environmental Compliance. I believe they have a team but Genevieve is in charge of EIS.
Lumbard: Not FirstNet, right?
Harris: I don’t think so. I am not exactly sure how that goes.
Lumbard: I assume it would be National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or Environmental Protection Act (EPA). The governing body would have to approve the environmental assessment.
Harris: I will find out more in detail.
Lumbard: Ok. My question is, is there a timeline where this has to be approved before certain window?
Harris: I am not sure about the whole timeline. I am only aware of 60-day comment period and towards the end of the year, FirstNet will try to release the final statement. I will check on that to make sure we have the numbers correct.
Lumbard: Ok. If you look at the “National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)” document, it shows in yellow about the public meetings with 60-day comment period, and then they will review and incorporate the comments. After that they will develop the final and will hold for 30 days. Lastly, they will issue a decision of record, according to the flow chart.
Lumbard: I think they did what they needed to do. Nonetheless, the requirements were met for the state of Iowa.
Troyanovich: I attended the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)Region 7 meeting and the National Council of Statewide Interoperable Council (SWIC’s) meeting this month. I realized that other states were not really awareof how to proactively spread the information about this upcoming EIS public meeting. We went on in a row and Iowa went last night and read off theFirstNet Broadband Committee’s list of agencies and individuals that were proactively contacted about the open house and the EIS. Other states were very impressed with the list like, Department of Natural Resources, Land Stewardships, Tribal Nations, DHS Office of Emergency Communications (OEC’s) who monitors the National Council of SWICswere very appreciative about the proactive outreach and thought that the action taken by this committee was above and beyond. So, congratulations on that.
Lumbard: Good work, Jontell.
Michele: I think it… it could have been back in the“Opt-In/Opt-Out” research process, Jontell had sent out a document or article, I cannot recall who it was from. Basically it was for the“Opt-In/Opt-Out” process and it stated that FirstNet was accepting public comments. Do we, as a group, want to submit a comment orcomments? I mean they have some pretty poignantquestions with their suggestions. In most cases, it would be ‘that seems reasonable or we agree with that approach’, so it would be more of a ratification of where their approach is but form my read of it, it seemed that there wasn’t anything objectable.It was a reasonable approach.
Lumbard:My view on commenting is thatif you find something worth commenting on then comment, otherwise just let it be. I don’t think we need to comment to agree with something.When I look at the very same article, I did not see anything different than what we talked about. It really deals witha lot of the “opt-out” fabric and the hurdles that you have to go throughin the “opt-out” lane. On that note, if we wanted to comment, we will gladly do that if there is something we need to comment on I think they are doing that to make certain that the industry has a chance to weigh-in on that process. I think it very evident that the “opt-out” lane, if you choose to go down that lane, has barriers and obstacles that you have to go through and all those steps will be very important.
There is an article that came out yesterday. FirstNet’s President, T J Kennedy provided an update on state plans. I wanted to read to you one of the paragraphs from this article, “FirstNet’s Kennedy Provides Update an State Plans, User Base” where he talks about the how the elements of the state plans are going to be released.