Donny Jackson

Urgent Communications

Donny Jackson is editor of Urgent Communications magazine. Before joining UC in 2002, he covered telecommunications for four years as a freelance writer and as news editor for Telephony magazine. Prior to that, he worked for suburban newspapers in the Dallas area, serving as editor-in-chief for the Irving News and the Las Colinas Business News.

FirstNet will hold ‘opt-out’ states accountable to meeting network policies for 25 years, officials say
​States and territories that seek to “opt-out” of FirstNet and build the public-safety LTE radio access network (RAN) within their borders must clear multiple statutory hurdles and be prepared for FirstNet’s ongoing oversight of its RAN operations for the next 25 years, according to FirstNet officials.
Maryland becomes 19th state to ‘opt in’ to FirstNet
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announces that he has accepted the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) deployment plan offered by FirstNet and AT&T on behalf of his state, making Maryland the 19th U.S. state—not including two territories—to “opt-in” to the FirstNet system.
Verizon exec shares carrier’s FirstNet interop goals, Band 14 device plans, why it did not bid against AT&T 1
Verizon hopes its planned public-safety network and applications will interoperate with the FirstNet system—even committing to including FirstNet 700 MHz Band 14 operations in Verizon devices—to give public safety a competitive option, but the carrier has yet to begin formal discussions with FirstNet, according to a Verizon official.
FirstNet to release ‘official’ state plans next week to most states, territories 1
​FirstNet will distribute its final state plans—described as “official” state plans—next week to governors in most states and territories, which will start the statutory 90-day process for these governors to make “opt-in” or “opt-out” decisions by mid-December, a FirstNet official said yesterday.
AT&T CEO says FirstNet hardening will include ‘bunkering,’ ‘redundant perpetual backup power’
AT&T plans to employ hardening approaches such as “bunkering” and “redundant perpetual backup power” within the FirstNet nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) to prevent the type of cell-site outages being experienced in Florida as a result of Hurricane Irma, according to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson.
Cash-strapped public-safety agencies adopting non-P25 technologies with increasing frequency, NPSTC says 6
​An increasing number of public-safety agencies—particularly those with smaller budgets and/or located in rural areas—are opting for land-mobile-radio technologies other than P25, according to John Lenihan, chairman of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) interoperability committee.
FirstNet state plans will include construction-grant figure, but NTIA review process likely to come later
​Governors will learn how much the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) expects to provide their states and territories in construction-grant funding in an “opt-out” scenario when they receive their FirstNet state plans, but details of the NTIA review process likely will not be in the state plans, according to an NTIA official.
Harris County officials detail communications impacts of unprecedented flooding in aftermath of Hurricane Harvey
​While the vast majority of public-safety LMR and LTE sites in Harris County, Texas, have remained operational since the landfall of Hurricane Harvey, unprecedented flooding from the event could result in multiple new policy and resource decisions in the future, according to county officials.
New Hampshire hopes to make ‘opt-in/opt-out’ recommendation to governor by early October
Rivada Networks names U.S. Cellular as the carrier partner for its alternative radio-access-network (RAN) plan for the state of New Hampshire, which is on track to make an “opt-in/opt-out” recommendation to its governor within the next several weeks, according to a state official.
AT&T’s Sambar apologizes to NPSTC, describes core-to-core interoperability as a ‘slippery slope’
​Chris Sambar, AT&T’s official leading the FirstNet effort, apologizes for comments about the public-safety-grade (PSG) definition, said AT&T is committed to Band 14 deployment and outlined potential security concerns that core-to-core interoperability with Verizon or other carriers could cause for public safety.
Motorola Solutions: Kirk Miller and Wendell Robinson demonstrate potential hack of LMR system 2
Kirk Miller and Wendell Robinson of Motorola Solutions demonstrate how even an unsophisticated hacker can compromise an unprotected LMR network—particularly one that is interconnected with the other systems or the Internet—in an effort to raise awareness about the issue and the importance of securing systems.
City of Houston P25 network maintains operation despite losing one site to post-Harvey flooding, official says
​Houston continues its recovery efforts amid severe floods in the aftermath of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey, but the city’s P25 network “stayed up and hummed through the whole thing,” despite losing one site to flooding and facing oil-replenishment challenges for backup generators, according to the city’s Deputy CIO Tom Sorley.
APCO identifies potential NG911 impacts, challenges in Project 43 report
​Next-generation 911 (NG911) will have significant operational implications for 911 centers, requiring new personnel skill sets to leverage the platform’s technological functionality and federal resources to fund the NG911 transition nationwide, according to the Project 43 report from APCO.
And then there were 20: With Nebraska, FirstNet ‘opt-in’ decisions top 35% threshold for states and territories
Nebraska has accepted the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) deployment plan offered by FirstNet and AT&T on behalf of his state, making it the 18th U.S. state—not including two territories—to “opt-in” to the FirstNet system. With 20 of the 56 U.S. states and territories having made “opt-in” decisions, FirstNet has received “opt-in” notification from 35.7% of all governors.
Safer Buildings Coalition: John Foley outlines in-building-coverage challenges for public safety
John Foley, vice president of operations for the Safer Buildings Coalition, discusses interference, FirstNet, economic and code issues associated with in-building coverage to support public-safety communications.

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