Wednesday, May 7, 2014

FirstNet -- Are Carriers trying to say they are "Public Safety Service Organizations"? Not by the Governor's standards.

I attended the Broadband Summit that TJ Kennedy spoke at -- I don’t think TJ meant, in anyway, that the Utilities are not viewed as essential to the success of the National Public Safety Broadband Network. Actually, you can go through the archives and see that the Board, and the GM, have indeed stated exactly the opposite. I’m referring to the following out-take in Fiercewireless:

“Further, he indicated that FirstNet intends to solicit outside input regarding whether access to the FirstNet network should be restricted to fire, emergency medical services (EMS) and law enforcement or should be extended to critical-infrastructure entities such as utilities, which desire broadband spectrum to enable smart-grid technologies. ‘Some topics we anticipate putting out for public comment include eligible users and state opt-in/opt-out,’ Kennedy said.” (Tammy Parker, Fiercewireless)

The fact of the matter, the national build out really doesn’t have anything to do with towers, in reality, it will all be about real-estate. You need real-estate to put the towers on. Sorry but First Responders don’t own enough land to get the coverage they need,let alone the money to fund their own build. The NPSBN needs the secondary users. The towers, which will be new builds, will be completely different than the traditional carrier standards, plus, for the carriers it’s not about owning the assets, its all about the spectrum. No where in the act does it define the secondary user. It is a fact that the network has to be built locally, and I don’t know about your State,  the Governor controls the State, not the Federal Government. Therefore, it is the Governor who needs to decide who the local “Public Safety Services Organizations” are (as defined by the act).

Through the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Act) became Public Law 112-96, 126 Stat. 156 (2012). It states in section (27) PUBLIC SAFETY SERVICES —The term ‘‘public safety services’’—
(A) has the meaning given the term in section 337(f) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 337(f)); and
(B) includes services provided by emergency response providers, as that term is defined in section 2 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 101).

In short, section 337(f) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 USC), it states under sub-section
(f) Definitions: The term ‘‘public safety services’’ means services-

(A) The sole or principal purpose of which is to protect the safety of life, health, or property;
(B) That are provided-
(i) by State or local government entities;
(ii) by non-governmental organizations
that are authorized by a governmental entity whose primary mission is the provision 
of such services; and

(C) That are not made commercially available to the public by the provider
The Law Flow Diagram by Scott Foster

With most of the States I have spoken with, they don’t see the carriers as “Public Safety Service Organizations”, so what does that mean? Just because a carrier provides network access, enabling a true “Public Safety Service Organization” to help complete its Public Safety mission, doesn’t mean it is actually a Public Safety entity. There is a reason that the term “Commercial Carrier” is used….thats because they make money by selling commercial service. A Commercial Carrier is not a Non-For-Profit, Police Chief, or Federal Emergency Management group, if they were, then their existing networks would be built to better standards to withstand the disaster scenarios. But, unfortunately, history has proven that just the opposite is true, whereas, their assets become non-responsive during a disaster, thus, no use to true Public Safety Organizations. Such scenarios was the catalyst for the President of the United States to dedicate the D-Block, band-14, spectrum to Public Safety.

It’s pretty clear to me that the Law dictates that secondary users are allowed -- am I missing something? (ref below) Are we getting hints that the carriers are losing the battle to influence the control the spectrum? Note: the law states “access or use” of the NPSBN….it doesn’t say anything about granting the use of the spectrum or allocating the spectrum to anybody other than Public Safety. I mean, if I were a carrier, I would be getting pretty nervous that all my work to grab control of the spectrum, is in fact, not illustrated in the Act.

What really confuses me is that the carriers gain the most by backing the use of the Myers Model™ Public Private Partnership than by trying to grab the spectrum for their own need. If I were a commercial carrier, why would I want to own the spectrum, after all, you own it means you pay for it, plus you have to spend a lot of capital to use and maintain it, capital that is only taking away from my profit margins? Those profit margins affect my job security, where as, the shareholders will, in fact, hold me responsible for. If I can administer a business model that eliminates my need to own the costly infrastructure, plus the long term maintenance, and improve my bottom-line with huge margins, why wouldn’t I want to present that to the shareholders? Think about it, I can, not only improve my bottom-line, but also shed the risk, and put any network outages onto a third party -- that happens to be backed by the Federal and State Government – why wouldn’t I? Seems like a no-brainer if you ask me. Owning and controlling the spectrum is so old school and costly.

As a carrier, I would only have to continue with my current operations of commercial service, using the investments I already own, then wait for the NPSBN to be completed. Once completed, sell-off my physical tower assets, or divest them into the physical infrastructure of FirstNet, shore up my arrangement with a protected MVNO (Managed Virtual Network Operator), and then move towards an all-content service approach with much higher margins on service. The real question is why haven’t I been backing this model? Shareholders are waiting, and when they read articles like this one, how long before they start asking themselves if they have the right leadership at the helm?

Then again, I’m….

Just some guy and a blog……

SEC. 6208. PERMANENT SELF-FUNDING; DUTY TO ASSESS AND COL- LECT FEES FOR NETWORK USE. (a) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding section 337 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 337), the First Responder Network Authority is authorized to assess and collect the following fees: (1) NETWORK USER FEE.—A user or subscription fee from each entity, including any public safety entity or secondary user, that seeks access to or use of the nationwide public safety broadband network.

H. R. 3630—61 (A) IN GENERAL.—A fee from any entity that seeks to enter into a covered leasing agreement. (B) COVERED LEASING AGREEMENT.—For purposes of subparagraph (A), a ‘‘covered leasing agreement’’ means a written agreement resulting from a public-private arrangement to construct, manage, and operate the nation- wide public safety broadband network between the First Responder Network Authority and secondary user to permit— (i) access to network capacity on a secondary basis for non-public safety services; and (ii) the spectrum allocated to such entity to be used for commercial transmissions along the dark fiber of the long-haul network of such entity. (3) LEASE FEES RELATED TO NETWORK EQUIPMENT AND INFRASTRUCTURE.—A fee from any entity that seeks access to or use of any equipment or infrastructure, including antennas or towers, constructed or otherwise owned by the First Responder Network Authority resulting from a public-private arrangement to construct, manage, and operate the nationwide public safety broadband network. (b) ESTABLISHMENT OF FEE AMOUNTS; PERMANENT SELF- FUNDING.—The total amount of the fees assessed for each fiscal year pursuant to this section shall be sufficient, and shall not exceed the amount necessary, to recoup the total expenses of the First Responder Network Authority in carrying out its duties and responsibilities described under this subtitle for the fiscal year involved. (c) ANNUAL APPROVAL.—The NTIA shall review the fees assessed under this section on an annual basis, and such fees may only be assessed if approved by the NTIA. (d) REQUIRED REINVESTMENT OF FUNDS.—The First Responder Network Authority shall reinvest amounts received from the assessment of fees under this section in the nationwide public safety interoperable broadband network by using such funds only for constructing, maintaining, operating, or improving the network.

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