RFP released for 911 location test-bed administrator role
An independent entity within the CTIA wireless-carrier trade association recently released a request for proposal (RFP) to serve as the administrator of a new test bed that will be used to evaluate whether new and existing technologies meet the FCC’s new 911 location-accuracy requirements.
In January, the FCC adopted rules that govern how accurate location information must be for wireless calls to 911—including, for the first time, wireless calls made from inside a building—in an effort to help public safety respond to emergencies more quickly and efficiently. To determine whether technologies comply with the new FCC benchmarks, the regulatory agency called for the establishment of an “independent and transparent” test bed, according to Matt Gerst, CTIA’s director regulatory affairs.
To meet this requirement, CTIA established the 9-1-1 Location Technologies Test Bed, LLC as an independent entity, and it is this new entity that released the RFP, Gerst said. RFP responses are due on Oct. 16.
“In order to run the test bed, we need a vendor who is knowledgeable and can actually administer the tests,” Gerst said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “That’s what the RFP that our Location Technologies Test Bed LLC put out is intended to do.”
Although the new entity is housed within CTIA, Gerst noted that the trade association’s involvement is purely in a supporting role. All testing specifications and RFP vendor selection will be done by the Alliance of Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), the well-known standards organization, Gerst said.
“We’re not even forming the test methodology. That’s actually happening in another forum—ATIS,” he said. “Basically, all we’ve done with this LLC is to establish the vehicle to actually run it, but we’re not going to administer it or set the test parameters.”
Gerst said test beds will be established in the San Francisco and Atlanta areas, with each region having test beds in the following four environments outlined in the FCC’s rules: dense urban, urban, suburban and rural. FCC rules require that the test beds be established by August 2016, but “our goal is to get them up much sooner,” he said.
RFP responses will be evaluated, and a test-bed administrator is scheduled to be selected before the end of this year, Gerst said. With the initial FCC thresholds set to become effective in April 2017, getting the test beds established quickly is important, so technology can be evaluated and integrated into the carriers’ systems as soon as possible, he said.
“The RFP is designed to ask the potential test-bed vendors, ‘Here are the parameters. What’s your proposal to get this done in the time that we need to?’” Gerst said.
Conceptually, the test-bed notion has been used by the FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC), but the 911 location-accuracy test beds will have a broader scope—both existing and new technologies need to be evaluated for their effectiveness and compliance with the new FCC rules, Gerst said.
“I think the FCC’s CSRIC proved that this test-bed approach can provide valuable information about how these new technologies perform for 911,” Gerst said. “The FCC saw that and asked the carriers to keep up that effort, and that’s what we’re going to be doing.”