FCC Public-Safety Chief Outlines Top Issues for the Bureau
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 | Comments
In an exclusive interview with MissionCritical Communications, David Turetsky, chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB), provided insight into the goals and focus for the bureau during the coming year. Turetsky, who assumed his FCC role in May, formerly served as deputy assistant attorney general for antitrust in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and as a senior lawyer and officer for Teligent, a fixed-wireless broadband services company. He joins the FCC from Dewey & LeBoeuf, where he was partner.
MCC: What are your goals for the coming year at PSHSB?
One of the first issues we are working on is completing our inquiry into the communications failures that systemically took out 9-1-1 following the June “derecho” storm. This year we plan to issue a public report, and depending on what we find, we’ll consider what the right follow-up is. Issuing the report this year is a prime goal.
Throughout the derecho and Hurricane Isaac, we’ve worked hard to develop accurate information on the outages that have occurred and on the restoration efforts that successfully ended those outages. We’ve shared information with our fellow emergency response professionals in other agencies to improve the effectiveness of the response to these natural disasters. It’s been a real pleasure working with the professionals in this agency and others that meet these challenges.
A second goal is continuing to execute our responsibility to enable the First Responders Network Authority (FirstNet) to continue its establishment and smooth its way into becoming a key component of public-safety communications.
Another goal is to move the ball forward on other 9-1-1 issues relating to next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) and text to 9-1-1. We also intend to look at issues related to noninitialized cell phones and location accuracy.
One other area we’re going to continue working on this year is cybersecurity and that includes mobile security. With mobile devices increasingly used in commercial transactions and other data communications, it’s particularly important that attention be paid to the security of those devices and the information that we store.
We also have narrowbanding in the VHF and UHF frequencies. That statute’s been out there a long time, and getting that wrapped up and meeting the year-end deadline is a key issue.
MCC: How will the bureau handle licensees in the VHF and UHF bands that haven’t narrowbanded yet or filed and/or received waiver requests after the Jan. 1 deadline?
Anybody who hasn’t narrowbanded by year-end or sought or obtained a waiver, is in peril of enforcement.
MCC: How do you envision the FCC working with the FirstNet board?
We have statutory responsibilities. We expect to facilitate the transition of the license to FirstNet. We are looking at what sort of rules should be out there for the band in light of the legislation. We have other statutory responsibilities we’ll be looking at as well. We released an order that dealt with the pending 700 MHz public-safety broadband waiver requests and allowed some special temporary authority (STA) rules for those who were near deployment of public-safety communications networks in that band at the time of passage of the act. For any renewals of an STA, we will consider the views of FirstNet to be important. We hope to have an ongoing dialog with FirstNet to hear its views.
MCC: What are the next steps for the FCC specific to the UHF T-band spectrum giveback for public-safety and business/industry licensees?
We understand the new law. It requires that the spectrum be given up at a date well into the future. We have issued a freeze with respect to some aspects of our handling of that spectrum. As we go forward, we will enter into a dialog and provide opportunities on the submission of views on the best path forward. We will move forward in a way that provides the public an opportunity to share its views.
MCC: What are your specific goals for 9-1-1 in the coming year?
There are important trials under way and teed up for aspects of NG 9-1-1. The Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) is working on improvements to location technology and other important issues that are elements to 9-1-1. AT&T just announced a text to 9-1-1 trial with Tennessee, and Verizon has some ongoing trials on text to 9-1-1. I was excited to read in a submission from Vermont that that in the trial they’ve done, they’ve already saved a life with text to 9-1-1. This is clearly an area where we must move forward. We are at risk the longer it takes in there being increasing confusion with people who are in disbelief that we haven’t implemented this already. Text to 9-1-1 is going to be particularly important for the hearing impaired community who many have no other way to communicate with 9-1-1. It’s important for those who need emergency help and must communicate silently like a Virginia Tech situation and sometimes in domestic violence situations where someone can’t easily make a call but can text for help.
MCC: How have your first few months gone in your new role?
I’ve really appreciated the opportunities in this role to meet with the public-safety community. I’ve had the opportunity to tour a number of public-safety answering points (PSAPs) and talk with people there about their current business and how NG 9-1-1 will affect them. I’ve been pleased to attend the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International and National Emergency Number Association (NENA) gatherings to hear from so many in the public-safety community about the issues with which we’re engaged.
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