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Moving Forward with 911 Grants

August 10, 2018 by David Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator

Today, NTIA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the opening of the 911 Grant Program, which will provide as much as $110 million to help 911 call centers across the country upgrade equipment and operations to Next Generation (NG911) capabilities.

With these upgrades, citizens, first responders, and 911 call-takers will be able to use modern communications technology – such as text messaging and video calls – during emergencies. NG911 will improve coordination and allow first responders to quickly connect with key health and government services. It will also enable 911 calls to contain real-time caller location and emergency information.

Details on how eligible states, territories and tribal organizations can apply for funding can be found in the Notice of Funding Opportunity on Grants.gov. The program has a two-step application process. Initial applications, which include identification of a designated 911 Coordinator and a required certification on non-diversion of 911 charges, need to be submitted by September 10, 2018, to nhtsa.national911@dot.gov. Following these submissions, NTIA and NHTSA will publish preliminary funding allocations for each of the applicants that meet the certification requirements, along with the deadline for the second application step.

Record Attendance at ISART 2018 Shows Importance of Accurate Radio Propagation Modeling

August 07, 2018 by Keith Gremban, Director of the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences

Nearly 170 experts from government, academia, and industry explored the challenges of managing ultra-dense wireless systems at the 17th International Symposium on Advanced Radio Technologies (ISART) July 24-26 in Broomfield, Colo. Panels and presentations discussed the current state of the art and mapped out possible paths forward to the next generation of radio wave propagation models.

The record attendance demonstrated the deep interest in the problem of modeling radio wave propagation. ISART’s purpose is to bring together representatives from different communities with interests or equities in the topic area, and typically attracts technologists, policy makers, and regulators, and industry sectors such as satellite, cellular, and military communications. ISART 2018, “Path Lost: Navigating Propagation Challenges for Ultra-Dense Wireless Systems,” also attracted representatives from the economics and transportation communities, who see a need for tools that accurately predict the functional range of wireless transmissions and their vulnerability to interference.

NTIA Files Petition to Update Wireless Priority Service Program

July 10, 2018 by Shawn Cochran, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

This week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration filed a Petition for Rulemaking with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to update the rules governing Wireless Priority Service (WPS), a program that enables wireless emergency calls to get through if networks are congested.

The petition is designed to update rules governing WPS, which were developed in the late 1990s and have not been updated since the program began following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The WPS program, which originally provided priority access only to cellular network radio channels, has continually evolved to reflect new standards and technologies as well as meet the increased priority communications needs of the national security/emergency preparedness community.

NTIA filed the petition on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Emergency Communications (OEC), which manages priority telecommunications programs.  

Many of the requests covered in the petition simply seek to align the FCC’s rules with OEC’s current business practices and capabilities, but asks for some increased WPS capabilities, including the following changes:

Join the Spectrum Conversations at ISART 2018

June 27, 2018 by NTIA

Leading spectrum policy experts in government and industry among the speakers for the 17th International Symposium on Advanced Radio Technologies (ISART) to take place July 24-26 in Boulder Colorado.

This year’s symposium will examine propagation challenges for ultra-dense wireless systems. Plenary talks and panel discussions will focus on the urgent need for accurate, reliable, validated, and trusted propagation models that can be used to predict signal strength across a wide variety of rapidly changing environments and conditions. Being able to accurately predict radiofrequency propagation is key to building and supporting the ultra-dense network environments of the future.

Leading the conversation as keynote speakers will be David Redl, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, and Heidi King, National Highway Traffic Safety Deputy Administrator. Google executive Preston Marshall will participate in a “roadside chat” moderated by Mark Gibson of CommScope on what could lie beyond next-generation wireless if technology, policy, and economics can be aligned. Other plenary speakers include:

New Data Show Substantial Gains and Evolution in Internet Use

June 06, 2018 by David Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator

The digital divide is showing signs of giving way as more Americans from all walks of life connect to the Internet. Several historically disadvantaged groups showed significant increases in online adoption, according to initial results from NTIA’s most recent survey on Internet use conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The survey, which was conducted in November 2017, reveals new contours of Americans’ Internet use. In 2017, more households had a mobile data plan than wired broadband service. Additionally, for the first time since NTIA began tracking use of different types of computing devices, tablets were more popular than desktop computers among Americans, and the number of people who used multiple types of devices also increased substantially.

Narrowing Digital Divide

The data show that 78 percent of Americans ages 3 and older used the Internet as of November 2017, compared with 75 percent in July 2015, when our previous survey was conducted. This increase of 13.5 million users was driven by increased adoption among low-income families, seniors, African Americans, Hispanics, and other groups that have been less likely to go online.

NTIA Launches Initiative to Improve Software Component Transparency

June 06, 2018 by David J. Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator

Most modern software is a creation of existing components, modules, and libraries from the open source and commercial software world. A detailed accounting of components isn’t always available, which can create obstacles when protecting against security risks. This challenge is compounded by the growth in Internet of Things devices, as companies add “smart” features or connectivity without clear visibility into a product’s underlying software components.

To address this problem, NTIA is convening a multistakeholder process to develop greater transparency of software components for better security across the digital ecosystem. While the majority of libraries and components do not have known vulnerabilities, many do, and the sheer quantity of software means that some software products ship with out-of-date components that may never be updated.

Through an open, transparent, and consensus-based process, NTIA will work to identify how software component data can be shared, what practices can be easily and voluntarily adopted, and what policy and market challenges should be addressed by the broad community. This initiative builds on prior work by NTIA stakeholders on IoT cybersecurity best practices. It is also NTIA’s first step in implementing the actions put forward by government and industry stakeholders in the Report to the President on Enhancing Resilience Against Botnets.

NTIA Looks to Stakeholders to Help Shape its International Agenda

June 04, 2018 by David J. Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator

Giving voice to all stakeholders in an open and transparent decision-making process is a core goal of NTIA’s international engagement. We are working on a number of issues, from protecting the availability of WHOIS information to pushing for more effective membership oversight of the International Telecommunication Union. As we look to further build out our international agenda, we want to hear from stakeholders about the critical global policy areas we will face this year and beyond.

In a notice of inquiry, we are asking all interested stakeholders – businesses, civil society groups, the technical community, academics, and the general public to provide us with comments and recommendations. The input we receive will inform NTIA's international Internet policy priorities going forward.

While we are open to comments and policy suggestions on any issue, we have identified four broad topic areas and some key questions we think are especially important:

NTIA Requests Feedback on Improving Broadband Availability Data

May 30, 2018 by David J. Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator

Across the country, Americans use broadband to learn, shop, grow their businesses, and connect with friends and family around the world. Communities that gain access to affordable, high-speed Internet see improvements to economic growth, educational opportunities, and public safety and health care services.

Much of America has been reaping the rewards of broadband for years, but there are still areas of the country that don’t have the connectivity needed to keep up with the modern economy. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), more than 30 percent of rural Americans live in areas that lack broadband availability.

We know these gaps exist, but what we don’t know is precisely which areas of the country have insufficient broadband capacity. That makes it difficult to ensure that public investments in infrastructure are efficient and effective. Right now, the FCC’s Form 477 data, which is collected from broadband service providers, is our only source for nationwide broadband availability information. The Form 477 data program is valuable, but the data is not independently validated or verified. It is also reported at the Census block level, so that can lead to inaccuracies that overstate availability – especially in rural areas where Census blocks are large.

Dynamic Protection Areas Will Spur Spectrum Sharing

May 25, 2018 by Paige R. Atkins, Associate Administrator of the Office of Spectrum Management

One of NTIA’s most important responsibilities is working with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to find spectrum to support competitive and ubiquitous 5G broadband wireless service in America. Efficient use of spectrum is critical as we look to get more spectrum into the hands of wireless innovators while protecting federal users. To help achieve this goal, NTIA engineers have facilitated the creation of a new concept in flexible spectrum sharing, Dynamic Protection Areas (DPAs), to enable increased access to the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band.

On May 22, in response to a letter from NTIA, the FCC issued a waiver Order that allows each spectrum access system (SAS) administrator in the 3.5 GHz band to use DPAs. This action will allow more devices to operate in the band more quickly than anticipated, promoting efficient spectrum use and more investment.

Diverse Small Businesses Discuss FirstNet Opportunities at Matchmaking Event

May 16, 2018 by Maureen Lewis, Director, Minority Telecommunications Development, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

On May 9, 2018, the U.S. Commerce Department brought together more than 100 small businesses for matchmaking opportunities with AT&T and five first-tier vendors helping AT&T build FirstNet, a nationwide broadband network and related services for first responders. In March 2017, the Department entered into a 25-year contract with AT&T for constructing and operating FirstNet.

The matchmaking event attracted diverse small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans, minorities, and women, as well as firms that are part of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program. Commerce procurement officials from the Census Bureau, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and Enterprise Services shared information about upcoming federal contracts.

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