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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  May 25, 2015 8:00am-8:31am EDT

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>> guest: one thing that happens in big emergencies is often networks can get clogged, and those that eat up most public safety, don't always have the ability to get a signal where and when they need it. also public safety has relied
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for a long time on land mobile systems, and they serve a great purpose, but they're very focused on voice technology and most of us are leveraging what broadband can do. in the back of an ambulance or police and fire, the unique things that could be done to enhance safety and security if you were able to leverage broadband for public safety day in and day out. >> host: so is, mr. kennedy, what's the current status of firstnet? is it online? is it available for first responders at this point? >> guest: firstnet wa-ñ created in 2012 with the act in february of 2012 but we recently have really moved from standing up an organization to actually creating the initial consultation effort and the initial requirements for a draft rfp, and we released it -- >> host: request for proposal. >> guest: request for proposal. so we are in the process of completing what is the our acquisition process with all the safety across the country, andzv those two are requirements of
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what we have to do to stand up the network. the networkt( will actually be deploy inside the future. >> guest: in your view what's the biggest obstacle you face at this point? >> guest: i think the biggest obstacle is working through the acquisition and consultation process. they're timely but at the same time you have to work through them, and they feed each other. consultation feeds into the acquisition and in the federal structure of acquisitions, there's a number of rules and regulations that knead to be followed. so -- need to be followed. we're also trying to make sure we have all the inputs from the various groups. there are about 60,000 public safety agencies in america, so we're try trying to produce the best network possible for public safety. another challenge for us is really making sure we get the right people. this is a technical project, and at the same point it's very near and dear to the heart of all of us from public safety. so it's really trying to find the key resources that will come on to this important project to
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help us build out the team to continue to advance us as we are right now. >> host: well joining our conversation is a frequent "communicators" guest howard buskirk executive senior editor of "communications daily." >> a lot of the people i talk to are still very skeptical about firstnet, questioning whether this thing's ever going to get get and how much use it's going to -- you must get that question. what do you say to skeptics? >> guest: i do think it will get built. if you build tools that work and put them in the hands of officers, firefighters and paramedics, they will utilize them. today they utilize cell phones, smart devices, and i think giving them tools to make their job more effective they will utilize them fully in the future. >> is there anything that could keep this from getting completed at this point?
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>> guest: i think there are roadblocks that could pop up, but we have good momentum. we laid out a strategic road map just over a year ago, and we've been executing against that road map working through 13 different requests for information working with industry to cater information -- to gather information. we released a draft statement to get feedback both from public safety as well as the state and local government community, and now we've released a draft request for proposal. each of these are key steps to actually getting through a consultation process. those things together are driving towards having a public safety network that will really provide the kinds of technology that public safety needs to operate effectively. >> gao recently suggested firstnet could cost as much as $47 billion to build. that's a big number. do you believe those estimates are way too high? what kind of costs are we looking at right now for this network? >> guest: the gao talked about
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$12-$47 billion so it was a range, and i think that range is probably a realistic range. whether it's on the high end or the low end of the range it's yet to be seen. we have to work through the competitive bidding process to try and get the best value we can for the network. we also are leveraging three main sources of funding to fund in network and one of those will be leveraging the access capacity on that network and the value of the spectrum as one way to do that, and part of that is to see what part of competition we'll drive to get the best value. >> do you have any estimates -- are you doing internal estimates, do you have any expectations in terms of how much this is really going to cost? you're a couple years down the road now. >> caller: sure. we've done a lot of modeling and one of the things you work on is internal estimates that will be judged against some of the bids and opportunities that come on. we would like to wait until the actual responses come in to be able to share that data, but we have some great feeling for what
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it will cost, and i think, you know that range that's out there is an appropriate range. >> host: t.j. kennedy, you talked about -- forgive me if i've misheard you but you talked about three different funding sources for firstnet. what are they and how much from each? >> guest: sure. good question. the act laid out three major funding sources. one was initial spectrum sales that have already started to occur and that would generate $7 billion that would go into the construction fund to support the firstnet deployment those auctions have occurred, the h block auction and the aws-3 auction and so now that funding has come in, and that's a terrific set of progress for firstnet because we can count on that going forward. the second part was leveraging the capacity of the band 14 rr700 megahertz spectrum built to operate in for public safety but also to leverage what's called a covered leasing agreement, so that when there's
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unused capacity on the network it can be leveraged to bring in funding that will help maintain and operate the network as well as build it out to the coverage and capacity that we need. the third piece is user fees. this is a user fee-driven sustainable network, so the public safety users and the core user fees and leveraging fees that would come in from the network is the third major element that will help sustain the network over the long term. >> host: so the user fees would come from the 60,000 or so emergency response teams around the country? >> guest: correct. so police, fire and ems agencies as they sign up and subscribe to usage. >> host: what is the role of private providers in building firstnet and operating firstnet such as verizon? >> guest: sure. so there are a number of private providers that could offer on this particular opportunity, and i think that the carriers are certainly one of them. i think there were others as well. when we talk about that extra capacity piece we would be looking for folks that have an interest in leveraging the excess capacity but providing
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and deploying the network as part of that. so this isw3 what our acquisition is being built around and really looking for good competition to drive that, but also leverage deploying on existing infrastructure where it makes sense to help with the speed of deployment. the act knows and talks about we really want to make sure we deploy this network in a fashion that gets it out and up and available as soon as practical and when you look at a nation as large as the united states and we look at the 50 states and the territories and the district of columbia, there's a lot of geography to cover. so the act actually calls out three different ways we can leverage existing commercial infrastructure that we can leverage rural telecommunications infrastructure and leverage government infrastructure to help speed that deployment where it's economically desirable to the overall solution. >> you talked about how there'll be extra capacity on the system. do you have any idea yet how much capacity you're going to be able to make available to carriers? this is spectrum that you're not using that they'll be able to
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sort of use as part of their network, right? >> guest: correct. i mean 20 megahertz is a significant amount of spectrum and part of the interesting part is not just about, you know, building capacity but during big emergencies whether it's a train derailment, whether it's a terrorist event, whether it's a natural disaster the demands for public safety get very large in one particular area for a short period of time. so one of the things we're really trying to make sure we build for peak capacity so we can handle those very large emergencies which will create that excess capacity that is there. so the only way that works in a model is if you're able to lease off that excess capacity when you're not utilizing it the other days of the year. so that model does leave for a significant amount of capacity, but you also have to have it for those big events. here in washington, d.c. we have events that come to the mall, scheduled events regularly that occur. the inauguration is a good example where you bring a very large number of people into the ticket and making sure that large number of public safety
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personnel police fire and emergency medical services, that also need to operate during that can. >> but are those also the times when the carriers need capacity, you know, for example, to serve huge crowds on the mall? >> guest: and they currently have some capacity that they utilize on a regular basis, and they bring in additional capacity during those incidents. we want to make sure that the dedicated spectrum for public safety is there in a prioritized fashion for public safety and if those big events happen, there's enough capacity to surge. so that's why that's an important piece. >> i was just going to ask you is it clear what size channels? are you going to be able to offer 10 megahertz channels? what size capacity are you going to be able to offer the carriers possibly? >> guest: it's not necessarily about slicing up the spectrum, it's really about building and deploying a network that will have a significant amount of capacity for those big and emergent needs. one of the things to look at is look at what some of the carriers, for instance do today. and in similar spectrum some of the carriers have 100 million
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customers that are operating. for public safety we've estimated there's about 4-13 million public safety providers across the country. and it depends on which, you know explanation you use. but, you know the core police, fire and ems personnel is, obviously, the big three. when you look at some of the additional first responders that are out there, that number could grow, but that number's pretty small when you look at the population of the united states and the number of subscribers that manyover the carriers have today. so they're able to operate with a lot of customers in similar spectrum, and we're going to have a lot of capacity that's on that network. just like the washington, d.c. example, i think we need to have that capacity available for those surge needs that happen even though it won't necessarily be every day. >> host: t.j. kennedy just to help us understand how firstnet would operate, let's take the recent train derailment in philadelphia. what would be the role of firstnet in a disaster like that? >> guest: the role of firstnet
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would be able to provide especially a data and broadband network for first responders. so police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians who are responding to that incident, that are on the scene of that incident in the future when the firstnet network is up and running would have the ability to have video of things from the scene being sent to incoming responders, to have pictures from the scene, to be able to have important situational awareness data on where everybody is on that particular scene. today not everybody would have the ability to see where the other ambulances are staged that might be coming in to pick up additional patients, and a mass casualty situation you would be able to leverage it for triage. you could go so far as to think of today there's technology like, you know fitbits and different wearable technology that you're seeing in the fitness world. what if that was done for emergency medical services where they could place that on a patient and be able to get vital signs as an example? not necessarily with the devices today, but just think of the innovation that could happen. you would know where all of your
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patients are, track their vital signs and with able to send them to hospitals and track them there and make sure they're handed off and there's continuity of care and you're able to adjust to a changing situation in a very rapid fashion. there's also the ability that you could have, for instance you know, a critical patient on scene and be able to have a two-way video interface to an emergency room where today that really would be a difficult thing to do. to just on the emergency medical services side alone there's some really interesting possibilities that would happen for a large scene like that. for law enforcement, it can help from the investigation side of the house. it would give the ability to send back to second and third responders that were coming to the scene realtime data. it would allow commanders and emergency operations centers to see what's happening on the scene with a lot more detail than they would get just from a voice communication system. so all those are just the start of the possibilities but i think most importantly it's situational awareness, it's having a lot more of that rich data that's come anything video photos, that's actually come anything data's been shared in
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addition to voice communications. >> host: so would all the various first responders who arrive on a scene like that, would they log on to a certain spot to get all this -- >> guest: it's actually a little bit different in that, you know, it's much like a cellular system that you have today. we all operate in the cellular community with the ability that you can be in different jurisdictions and still operate on that system. in the area of philadelphia, for instance, today there are a number of different radio systems, a number of different jurisdictions. ful, the city of philadelphia has theirs, but if you were to go to neighboring cities responding with aid, sometimes they may not be on the exact same communications system. we're all going to be operate anything the same spectrum, on the same, you know, really internationally standard technology, so 3gpp standards which is the third generation partnership project. and that's the cellular standard that really will drive that everybody's operating on the
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same technology. lte, which is long-term evolution is the current faster and a bit more advanced level of cellular communications. and in having that ability to send, you know, that rich experience you would get with broadband, that is different than just having voice. so to be able to send that video, for instance, is something that would be able to be done right away. it's also interoperable. if somebody from new jersey were to respond in pennsylvania if you're on the border between states, the same tools, the same spectrum the same capabilities would exist across state lines which today may or may not be the case. >> you said there's 4-13 million first responders that might be able to use this network, but isn't there problems with lots of local governments having budget cuts now? how are they going to afford to buy the new technology and how much are they going to want to invest in plugging into this network? is that a big issue for firstnet? >> guest: i think it's always an issue to be concerned about. we're certainly looking at
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offerings that will be competitive to commercial offerings today in price and i think that's an important part of the cost savings to many of these departments. priority, preemption encryption, some of the security elements not every department has access to all of that. many departments in the u.s. are quite small, small as one or two police officers in a town. there's a lot of them that are at the 20-25 person range. so having the ability to have a secure network, to have a network that provides the communications when and where they need them and to interoperate with other departments seamlessly really from day one is a huge benefit and at a commercial cost. i think that is something that will make it very affordable. a lot of them today certainly have budgets that are tight, but we think that we can give an affordable offering -- >> when you talk about an affordable offering, you said comparable to what i pay a carrier now for my monthly plan. i mean, it'll be in that price range probably.
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>> guest: that's the ballpark we're looking at being competitive with. >> host: go ahead howard. >> i was just going to -- another big question is carriers because carriers are all looking for spectrum, but what stage are you at now? could you explain where you are now in terms of being able to negotiate deals with the wireless carriers who might want to also plug into this network? >> guest: so for us we're in the acquisition process, the draft response for proposal process. we've put out a 90-day deadline that will close on july 27th. and between now and then we expect that whether it's a carrier or whether it's other providers that are interested in leveraging the spectrum value in addition the deploying the network, we'll respond with ideas or thoughts whether we've hit the right approach that's in our particular acquisition documents, and we're driving towards a final rfp by the end of this calendar year, december 31st. >> host: where does the money go? right now what's the bulk of your expenses? >> guest: the bulk of the expenses will go initially to
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capital expenses to deploy the network. so literally when you're deploying out antennas and putting out the cellular site ises across the country on existing infrastructure, a lot of it will go there. over time operating expenses go to running and maintaining the network, recapitalizing the network and upgrading it and also just the ongoing operating expenses to be able to have the communications across the country. those expenses are pretty large in the operating sense. so those are the main expenses for us. one of the great things about the act that set up firstnet is 100 percent of the revenue that comes in above our existing cost has to be plowed back into the network. so anything that would come in above and beyond what we expect would be purely put into additional coverage and capacity and really trying to give, you know applications and a rich system to public safety to serve their needs. >> host: have you found support or opposition in congress? >> guest: i think we found support in congress. i think on both sides to have
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aisle there's been support for public safety and for creating a network that is nationwide. creating a network that is operable across all states and having a network that will serve the modern needs of public safety with video, voice and data. and so i do think that there is support to make this happen, and i think there's support knowing that this is a very large project. it is a complex project, but it's needed by public safety today. >> host: is there a government entity out there in the country today that has a model that you're emulating or admire or using parts of? >> guest: that's a good question, and i think in the u.s. there's a number of states that have built statewide land mobile radio systems. i don't think there's a perfect analogous system similar to what firstnet is today. this'll be a first in the united states. there are a number of countries about six right now, that are looking at building similar systems around world. the united kingdom is one of them that's furthest along. they're definitely looking to
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leverage lte for public safety communications and really as a replacement for their current nationwide land mobile radio system. so we've been in communication with them. we certainly have learned from some of the things that they've done over the past few years and there's a number of other countries that are headed down that path as well. in june of this year, we have a technical conference the public safety communications research conference that we're hold anything san diego with some of our key engineers, and we have six other countries that are coming to share their experiences or in some cases desire to follow and model after what the united states is doing. the most likely example is canada. canada has set aside the similar spectrum that we have so that they can be synergistic with what the u.s. is doing going forward. >> one of the big questions i know when you, when firstnet's before congress has been the rural coverage. carriers spend $30 billion a year in cap ex, ballpark figure and a lot of them don't reach
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the smallest parts of country. that's where a lot of the small carriers come in. so how much is it going to cost to build a network that reaches the absolute most remote areas of the country? >> guest: well, we have competing pressures. we definitely are meeting our mandate to do rural buildout milestones, and those will be in each phase of our deployment. as you said, that's very costly so we have to balance that with the other mandate to be sustainable. so we're going to go absolutely as far as we can, and we're going to work with the states through the consultation process to prioritize and also to make it synergistic with the actual deployment of the network. there are things that will be cost effective more than others, but i think the real goal of firstnet is to reach rural areas that are underserved for public safety today as well. so there will be some places where you probably won't be able to reach with this network right? some of the smallest, most remote parts of the u.s. >> guest: there are. one of the things we're doing in
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the consultation process is getting data from states on where their actual emergency responses are. because one of the things we can look at historically is where the emergency calls for service have been. in my former days as a first responder, i responded to canyons and they're probably still isn't coverage there today. at the same point most of those didn't have more than one rest can cue a year. we would love to have coverage where it can be, but there are some physical limitations. if i go back to my days in utah, i went into some canyons in utah that were gorgeous places to go hiking, but from a physics perspective, really not an easy place to cover with wireless networks. at at the same point, we have those laws of physics to deal with which make it hard. >> host: well t.j. kennedy your experiences as a paramedic firefighter, state trooper in utah did you run into situations where you could not communicate with other first responders? >> guest: absolutely. that's a great question can.
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i worked mostly in the mountain areas around park city utah, and there's a large portion of the counties that i covered that had very little public safety radio coverage. some of that was in the pre-cellular days as well so is very little cellular coverage in utah. but we would go up canyons often where you could go 10 or 20 miles where you didn't have coverage, and there were times you needed backup, and you couldn't talk to anybody, and you had to handle it yourself. really there's an interesting conundrum. when i worked for life flight in salt lake city, we flew to and landed in remote areas where communications by terrestrial networks was difficult and the radio networks didn't necessarily get out to everywhere we needed to. there's definitely a need in western parts of the united states that are very rural to have, you know, additional coverage and to look at innovative ways to solve that problem as we go forward. i think we're seeing an industry today and in the marketplace that there are other ways people are looking at covering the more remote parts of the world for
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that matter, and i think there's great innovation happening that will continue to help us. >> host: does wi-fi have a role in firstnet? >> guest: i think wi-fi has a role for hot of things. there are police departments that have dash cam videos, and whenever a police car pulls back into a police station or goes to a fuel pump to gas up after their shift they have wi-fi set up to download a lot of that video from a digital recorder in the trunk to the storage area network for the law enforcement agency, and that's a cost effective way to take a large amount of video and move it to more permanent storage. i see those things continuing to happen in the future. i think those are great uses for wi-fi. >> host: is firstnet an independent government agency? >> guest: yes.xd officially we're an independent authority. we are an independent authority that is inside of the department of commerce. and inside of ntia but we are an independent authority. >> one of the comments you hear from a lot of people is because of the fact that you're a
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government agency it's going to be very difficult for you to negotiate contracts with wireless industry. how big of an impediment are the federal rules that you have to operate under? >> guest: the rules certainly are difficult. i won't say whether they're very difficult or not. we'll see coming up here in a hitting while. but i think they're difficult because of a lot of federal procurements are buying a number of different pieces of hardware pieces of software or services for that matter. but this is a very unique procurement in that we're also looking for revenue to come in for the covered leasing agreements in addition to buying equipment and services. so that's pretty unique when you look at it. so i think this creates a new business case. it will be a great study, i think, in public/private partnerships and a perspective of how to make this work, and i do think we could set a good example for finding ways that are cost effective that leverage existing infrastructure and that really leverage ways that support public safety and fund
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what they need in their times of greatest need and the biggest emergencies they might possibly respond to while being cost effective over time. >> you going to be able to sit down with viens, at&t, t-mobile -- i should say sprint i want to include everybody -- and cut deals? because that's a lot of what happens in this space. isn't that hard for a government agency to do? >> guest: i think that is hard for a government agency to do and i think there's, we hope, a large amount of competition that will come on in our request for proposal and there are many entrants who might want to respond to that. currently, there are a number of rules, you know, leveraging your contracting officer for how you can have those discussions, and we're following those rules to work through that. >> host: you've done some pilot projects around the country. and one of the them was in l.a., and there seems to be an issue with l.a.. in fact, they've dropped out of the pilot project according to reports s. that accurate and why? >> guest: it's not accurate. it was did run into some
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issues. i will say currently it is back up and in progress. and that is actually continuing to proceed. all of the five early builder projects, which were actually let before firstnet was created, so they're pre-firstnet projects that will certainly benefit with us with lessons learned, and those five projects are very different. when we look at the state of new mexico or new jersey or harris county, texas adams county colorado, and los angeles county in california, every one of them is looking at different urban needs different needs such as port security and meeting certain needs there. new mexico we're looking at learning from being near the border the kind of issues that come up with spectrum and public safety around the border. so all of those are providing different lessons to us. and in los angeles we certainly also received a number of lessons from that project. one of the biggest lessons was is some of the issues in just deploying on public safety infrastructure and looking at how to leverage that versus
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commercial or other infrastructure. and we learned a lot of those things take time. they're very time consuming for some of the memorandums of agreements. there's still a lot of building and permitting and local community issues that arise with that. so i think it's reinforced what we have, not just one particular type of infrastructure. so these lessons are very valuable because we're going to be deploying across all 50 states as well as the territories and the district and having those lessons at an early stagings i think, is tremendous. all five of them are scheduled all at different sizes and numbers of sites to be done by september of this year. so i think it's going to be great for us to also see the operational uses. many of them are still in the buildout or deployment phase right now. so i'm looking forward as a former public safety official to seeing the real live uses of those networks. because i think the art of the possible and the innovation net will start to happen in public safety when people have access to broadband in their everyday role as a police officer,
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firefighter of paramedic i think will just be tremendous. and being able to show that to other first responders across the country and give examples whether it's on video or whether it's just through talking to first responders who are utilizing that technology today, i think will just be a great opportunity for public safety to see what the art of the possible is. >> host: and why are you acting executive director? >> guest: that's a good question. so in the government when certain people leave positions and others like myself as the deputy prior to being the acting executive director takes some time for them to work through the process of vetting and interviewing to be able to get to a permanent position. i can say we're very far along in that process, at least from my perspective, and we'll see what happens hopefully here in the near future. >> host: t.j. kennedy is the acting executive director of firstnet, and howard buskirk is the executive senior director with "communications daily." >> now on booktv, former senate majority leader george
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mitchell democrat from maine talks about his life, political career and post-senate service as a diplomat, investigator and chairman of the walt disney company. he spoke at politics & prosema bookstore in washington d.c. at politics and prose bookstore in washington d.c.. [inaudible conversations] >> there are he has. hello senator. >> good evening. i'm bradley graham the co-owner of politics and prose along with my wife lissa


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