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FCC Deadline Extensions Due to Government Shutown

A number of UTC members and clients were impacted by the FCC shutdown. Among those are applicants that had filing deadlines that expired during the shutdown period. A new attachment type with a description of “Revised Filing Deadline Attachment” has been created on the FCC's Universal LIcensing System (ULS) to allow for the ‘untimely’ filing of an application due to the government shutdown. 

This is a non-feeable waiver and available for all filing purposes, all filing modes (batch, interactive, manual) and all form filings (601, 602, 603, 605, 608, 609, 611, HAC).  Note:  This does not apply to ASR.

 

For more information, please see this link: http://www.fcc.gov/help/uls-instructions-revised-filing-deadlines

FCC Harmonizes Rules Protecting AM Radio Stations

The FCC released a Rule Making last week, FCC-13-115A1, that harmonizes the Rules associated with protecting AM radio stations. The effort was first initiated in 1993. Communication towers constructed in the near vicinity of an AM station could distort the radiation pattern of a directional antenna array because the tower itself absorbs and re-radiates the AM signal. When the pattern is distorted, there is a potential for interference into other AM stations as far away as hundreds of miles away.

FCC Rules have protected AM stations for some time, but these protections only applied to commercial communication carriers and other broadcasters. The new Rules now apply to all licensees, including critical infrastructure and public safety. The new FCC Rules require Method of Moments (MoM) modeling rather than the measurement methods that have been used for decades. The MoM analysis is complex, requiring specialized software and engineering resources.

The potential for interference is based on the distance from the AM station, its transmit frequency and the height of the tower. Towers that are close a quarter of the AM wavelength have the most possibility of distorting the AM pattern. The most common method for remediation is a process called “de-tuning”, where equipment is installed on the tower to make it invisible to the AM signal. Proponents of construction or significant modification of a tower which is within the lesser of 10 wavelengths or 3 kilometers of a directional AM station, and is taller than 36 electrical degrees at the AM frequency, must notify the AM station at least 30 days in advance of the commencement of construction. Transmitters may not be installed and operated until the AM station has signed off the construction.

UTC will help members and clients screen their proposed construction to determine if new towers are within coordination range of AM stations.

UTC Engaged at the 3rd NIST Cybersecurity Framework Workshop

The Utilities Telecom Council is attending the 3rd NIST Cybersecurity Framework Workshop at the University of California San Diego from July 10-12.  After a warm welcome by National Institute of Standards and Technology officials, the participants of the workshop got down to the hard work of validating, designing, and populating the Framework. The preliminary Framework that NIST posted in late June included the outline itself, the Framework Core, and the Compendium of standards, guidelines, and best practices. 
The work focuses on the Core and the Compendium.  The Core provides a top-down way to organize cybersecurity activities and map them to the existing cybersecurity standards, guidelines, and best practices listed in the Compendium.  Participants from a variety of industry sectors engaged in robust discussions of the proposed concepts and effective ways to organize them.  NIST facilitators and experts have been extremely careful in keeping the conversation neutral with respect to a specific set of standards and guidelines to ensure that participants consider all options.  Adam Sedgewick, senior information policy advisor at NIST’s Information Technology Laboratory illustrated the difficulty of the task before the workshop participants when he stated “We are developing this framework in a way that can be broadly applicable to diverse organizations…to the small utility, ranging up to the large multinational corporation”
 
The process of Framework creation is extremely delicate and sensitive.  The Framework is voluntary but regulatory agencies can use them to initiate further regulation.  Furthermore, the Framework is supposed to be actionable but applicable to multiple industry sectors and technology-independent.  Finally, the Framework is supposed to be performance-based and cost-effective even though measuring cybersecurity is extremely difficult since the subject area of relating practices to outcomes is in its infancy. 
In addition to working on the Framework itself, the participants will have an opportunity to provide input on specific topics of importance to the Framework: privacy, executive level engagement, awareness and training, international relations, small business applicability, and DHS performance goals.
 
NIST will use the outputs of the Workshop to populate the Framework which will be provided for preliminary comment ahead of the 4th (and final ) workshop in Dallas from September 11-13.

NIST Holds Second Cybersecurity Framework Workshop

NIST is holding its second Cybersecurity Framework Workshop at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. NIST Director, Pat Gallagher, opened the workshop with an overview of the work. Executive Order 16363 requires NIT to develop Cybersecurity Framework in collaboration with the industry to be technology neutral, risk-based, integrated with business practices, applicable across critical infrastructure to organizations of all sizes, meaningful to anyone from executives to system administrators, and applicable globally and locally. The Framework is meant to be prioritized and flexible to become a platform for the industry to innovate. Dr. Gallagher then described the task ahead of the workshop participants – to use 244 industry responses to the NIST Request for Information (RFI) to develop early consensus among the participants about what the Framework should contain. Dr. Gallagher was followed by Adam Sedgewick of NIST who leads the development of the Framework and the panel of NIST technical experts who provided an overview of the methodology used to review and analyze the responses.

The workshop is being conducted in four different tracks, which were defined based on the RFI responses: the business of cyber risk, threat management, cybersecurity dependencies and resiliency, and progressive cybersecurity: from basic to advanced cybersecurity. Monday afternoon was spent in brainstorm around these four topics. NIST hopes to come out of the workshop with tangible information to be integrated into an early version of the Framework to be reviewed and further developed at the next workshop to be held at the University of California, San Diego on July 10-12.

TETRA in North America - Mission Critical Communications Special Report

 TETRA private land mobile radio (PLMR) technology continues to draw the interest of utilities and critical infrastructure providers planning to replace or update their radio systems. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved TETRA base stations in the 450 - 470 MHz UHF band and the 800 MHz land mobile band. The technology has also been approved north of the US border in Canada, where the utility BC Hydro is deploying a TETRA system. 


RadioResource Media Group, which has covered TETRA since its inception through its international magazine, RadioResource International, has created a Special Report edition dedicated to TETRA technology in North America. The report provides a history of the technology and a regulatory update that summarizes the status of TETRA with US and Canadian regulatory agencies. A review of contracts to date in North America includes spotlights on a few of the vendors supplying those systems and the RFPs under way. The report is available on MissionCritical Communications' web site for download HERE. (http://www.radioresourcemag.com/MissionCriticalUniversity/frmSignIn.cfm?mcUniversityID=57)

FERC Begins Consideration of NERC CIP Version 5 Security Standards

In a press release dated April 18, 2013, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced a rulemaking to consider version 5 of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Reliability Standards, or CIP standards, proposed by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) in January of this year. Version 3 of the CIP standards are currently in effect with version 4 approved and will become enforceable on April 1, 2014. The CIP standards apply to the bulk electric power transmission system over which FERC has jurisdiction. The notice proposes skipping the implementation of version 4 of the CIP standards and moving directly to version 5.

According to the press release, the NERC CIP 5 proposal includes 12 requirements with new cyber security controls that address Electronic Security Perimeters, Systems Security Management, Incident Reporting and Response Planning, Recovery Plans for BES Cyber Systems, and Configuration Change Management and Vulnerability Assessments. It also would use a new, tiered approach to identifying and classifying bulk electric system cyber assets that is a step toward applying CIP protections more comprehensively to better assure protection of the bulk electric system.

The Commission is seeking comment on certain language in the proposed CIP version 5 Standards to alleviate concerns regarding the potential ambiguity and, ultimately, enforceability of the proposed Standards. NERC is the FERC-certified Electric Reliability Organization for the bulk electric system. Comments on the proposed rule are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. UTC will continue to monitor the rulemaking and provide updates and analysis.

FCC Seeks Input on TV-Band Use

On April 26, 2012 the FCC announced a limited suspension of the acceptance and processing of certain applications for Part 22 and Part 90 services operating in the 470-512 MHz shared TV band. In layman's parlance, this is a freeze. The FCC took this action in response to a directive contained in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 which, in part, requires the FCC to relocate incumbent public safety licensees within the band and commence an auction for new initial licensees for the spectrum within nine years. Left unsaid is what becomes of incumbent industrial/business licensees in the band.

In February of this year, the FCC released a Public Notice(PN) seeking comment to inform the Commission as to how it should go about meeting this mandate. The Commission is seeking specific proposals for implementing the mandate including the technical, financial, administrative, legal, and policy implications. The PN asks a number of questions ranging from basic fact-finding (how many licensees, repeaters, mobiles, etc.), to ideas for alternative spectrum for incumbents to migrate to, to potential relocation costs, to whether or not certain additional types of modifications should be allowed during the pendency of the expected rulemaking proceeding. See the
full text of the PN here.

The Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC) will be responding to the PN. As a member of LMCC, UTC would like to contribute the views of utilities to those comments. If you are an incumbent licensee in the 470-512 MHz shared TV-band and are concerned about what impact the current freeze is having on your operations, or what a forced migration from the band will do to your operations, we would like to hear from you. The comment due date is May 13th so if you have any input please contact Donald Vasek or Klaus Bender at your earliest opportunity.

FCC Revisits RF Safety Rules

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Rule Making on March 27, 2013, addressing its radio frequency (RF) safety and exposure rules. FCC rules require that licensees ensure that the public is not exposed to unsafe levels of RF energy as a result operating their stations. Rulemaking FCC 03-139 is the FCC's first review of the rules regarding RF exposure in ten years. These rules are located in FCC Rule Part 1 and results from the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements for environmental reviews, specifically those reviews related to health and safety of radiofrequency (RF) emissions from radio transmitters. The document is divided into three parts: a Report and Order, a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in ET Docket No. 03- 137, and a Notice of Inquiry in a new docket, ET Docket No. 13-84. The Report and Order implements proposed changes from 2003 that had support from commenters and FCC staff. The Further Notice poses additional questions related to the 2003 proceeding. Neither the Order nor the Further Notice address the current FCC safety levels for the general public and occupational workers. This matter is discussed in the Notice of Inquiry and seeks to incorporate up-to-date research into the impact on non-ionizing radiation on humans. Since the FCC acknowledges they have no expertise in this field of study, they will rely on experts in the field to create a rich record of comments from which a consensus can be reached among industry, concerned citizens and regulators.

Initially, the impact to critical infrastructure licensees will be administrative. FCC Rules currently exempt a variety of radio services from regular mandated review of the RF levels. The licensee certifies that the operation will meet FCC Rules when it signs its application. Assuming the licensee is compliant with RF safety levels, there is no other action required. The new Rules will eliminate the radio service based exemption in lieu of a criteria based solely on effective radiated power (ERP). Part 90 and Part 101 licensees may now be required to certify compliance on a yearly basis, either by calculation or measurement, depending on the power of the system. Industry response to proposed rules has been overall neutral. Consumer advocates applaud the FCC for addressing the issue, while experts in the field are lamenting the relative short 90-day reply deadline for such a technical topic.

UTC will provide a detailed review of the new compliance requirements in a separate document. We encourage UTC members and clients with interest in this matter to contact UTC so we can formulate a response, if needed. We note that "smart meters" are only mentioned once in the document, in the context of which measurement method to use for calculating compliance. In this context, smart meters were included with WiFi devices, cordless telephones and RFID devices.

For more information, contact the UTC Legal/Regulatory department.

TETRA in North America

 

TETRA Today magazine, in conjunction with the North American TETRA forum, released an article called “The Opportunity for TETRA in North America” earlier this month. The publisher has also released the article for download. The document summarizes a roundtable discussion held in late 2012 in Washington DC. Industry representatives openly discuss the technology and the challenges to bringing TETRA to North America. The panel was made up of Bill Branlow, AASHTO, a transportation sector frequency advisor; Mark Crosby, Enterprise Wireless Alliance, a business band frequency advisor, Roger Dowling, Sepura, a TETRA equipment vender; Phil Godfrey, TETRA and Critical Communications Association;  Phil Kidner, TETRA and Critical Communications Association; Gary Lorentz, North American TETRA Forum; Bruce Marcus, Marcus Communications, a system designer and integrator; Jose Martin, PowerTrunk, a TETRA vender; John Monto, ARINC, an airline industry frequency advisor; and UTC’s Klaus Bender.

 

One misconception about TETRA is that the equipment is a European technology and not available in the US. The roundtable participants clarified that this is not true and that TETRA equipment has been approved by the FCC in the 450-470 MHz and 800 MHz bands. There were several regulatory hurdles to TETRA’s availability in the US and the article provides a review of these essential steps. With the technology available in the US and North America, the group addressed the question of how to promote TETRA’s use. Several attendees pointed to a dealer infrastructure that can promote, as well as sell and install the technology.  Bruce Marcus noted that “[i]t has nothing to do with the technology. It has to do with the people in place that have knowledge of the product, are willing to sell it and bring it to customers. There are customers that want it.” The article continues with discussion related to voice and data communications capabilities and the fact that TETRA is a narrow band compliance solutions. We encourage those interested in TETRA to download and read the free article.

 

In other TETRA news, the University of New Hampshire CID Labs have joined the North American TETRA Forum membership to set up TETRA technical training courses. This is one of the initiatives resulting from feedback received from industry leaders at the  Washington DC roundtable meeting. The first two day technical training program will be conducted  at UNH April 30 and May 1, with a third marketing only information day on May 2 for those who may require more business oriented overview, with demonstration platform available also on that day. Conference information is listed here. There are other TETRA training opportunities. Feel free to contact UTC staff for more information.

 

FCC Public Notice Addresses Narrowband Compliance

The FCC has issued a Public Notice providing guidance to licensees, frequency coordinators, and equipment vendors regarding compliance with the narrowbanding mandate that was effective on January 1, 2013. The PN offers an overview of the key narrowbanding provisions and follows up with guidance for licensees with wideband emission designators. 
 
Private land mobile radio licensees are reminded that wideband operations in the VHF/UHF bands are no longer permitted without a valid waiver grant from the FCC. Licensees whose licenses list both wideband and narrowband emission designators are not required to remove the wideband emission designators but are encouraged to do so either the next time they make any change to their license or by filing a simple narrowbanding modification via the Commission’s Universal Licensing System.
 
Licensees whose licenses list only wideband emission designators likely fall into one of two groups. 1.) Licensees with stations that are narrowband-capable can retain their wideband emission designators but must affirmatively certify that they meet the narrowband spectrum efficiency standard. This can be done as an Administrative Update via the ULS and should include an attachment certifying compliance, including the equipment’s FCC ID number. 2.) Licensees with wideband emission designators whose stations are not narrowband-capable must either cease operations or immediately seek a waiver to permit continued wideband operation. Licensees that seek a post-deadline waiver should not assume that their request will be granted.
 
The Commission has instructed frequency coordinators, for the time being, to generally treat incumbent wideband-only licensees as 12.5 kHz when coordinating new frequency assignments. However the Commission also notes it intends to take steps to verify the status of all stations with active licenses that include wideband emission designators, to confirm that such stations remain operational and are in compliance with narrowbanding rules. More details on those efforts will be announced in a forthcoming Public Notice.
 
Licensees operating in wideband mode after January 1, 2013 and have not received a waiver from the Commission extending the deadline are in violation of the rules. Licensees who operate in violation of the rules are subject to enforcement action which may include admonishments, license revocation, and/or monetary forfeitures of up to $16,000 for each violation and up to $112,500 for any single act or failure to act.
 
A new narrowbanding licensing tool has been added to the ULS to simplify the filing of narrowbanding applications for those licensees that have yet to do so. Licensees must know their FRN and Password to utilize the tool.
 
You can read the full text of the Public Notice at: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2013/db0314/DA-13-376A1.pdf or contact spectrumservices@utc.org if you have any questions.

 

 

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