Ex Parte Notice Authorizing Permissive Use Of The “Next Generation” Broadcast Television Standard

Ex Parte Notice Authorizing Permissive Use of the “Next Generation” Broadcast Television Standard

Via ECFS

March 7, 2017

Ms. Marlene H. Dortch Secretary
Federal Communications Commission 445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554

 

Re: Ex Parte Notice: GN Docket No. 16-142, Authorizing Permissive Use of the “Next Generation” Broadcast Television Standard

 

Dear Ms. Dortch:

On March 6, 2017, the undersigned hosted members of the Commission’s Media Bureau at the ONE Media offices in Arlington, Virginia to demonstrate the Advanced Warning and Response Network (AWARN) and other capabilities of the proposed ATSC 3.0, Next Generation (“Next Gen”), broadcast transmission standard. The pending rulemaking proceeding to approve use of the new standard was discussed as well. A list of those in attendance is attached.

Members of the AWARN Alliance were present to demonstrate the geo- targeting, rich media, and other capabilities made possible with the Next Gen standard. AMBER, chemical spill, and tornado warning prototypes were presented. These demonstrations showed how the Next Gen standard moves far beyond simple text messages on receive devices to display photos of missing children, kidnapping suspects, vehicle identity and location maps. Similarly, Doppler radar, evacuation routes, toxic cloud locations, specific shelter advice, and hospital wait times were shown to display dramatically the advantages of the Next Gen standard.

The AWARN demos were proceeded by a presentation by ONE Media focused on the inadequacies of the current DTV standard, including: lack of mobility, inability to connect with Internet-enabled devices, deficient emergency notifications, and the inability to hyper-localize programming or advertising. In contrast, the advances enabled by the Next Gen standard were highlighted within the broadcast one-to-many architecture supplemented with the change to an Internet Protocol distribution process and more robust modulation and compression technologies. Together, these elements help meet the evolving needs of both viewers and broadcasters.

 

The Next Gen capabilities were also discussed in the context of the questions posed by the Commission in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Specifically, it was noted that this limited technical proceeding should not be the vehicle to expand programming obligations or other rules not directly tied to the optional, voluntary use of the new standard. Only the “bootstrap” portion of the ATSC 3.0 “physical layer” is required for Commission approval, and the Commission should take all steps necessary to permit accelerated deployment so consumers can gain the significant advantages made possible by the new standard.

The demonstration also provided an example of consumer-facing devices using the new standard, which highlighted a variety of flexible options available to viewers. Those included multiple programming streams, video-on-demand options, personalized program choices, “hybrid” broadcast-broadband networks permitting interactivity, along with an example of a “home gateway” device to enable ATSC 1.0 devices through existing Wi-Fi distribution of a Next Gen signal.

Please contact the undersigned should you have any questions regarding this matter.

 

 

Sincerely,

/s/ 

John M. Lawson Executive Director

 

 

cc: Listed on attached

 

Demonstration attendees:

From the FCC:

Michelle Carey

Martha Heller

Steve Broeckaert

Kathy Berthot

Kim Matthews

Kevin Harding

Hossein Hashemzadeh

Evan Morris

Sean Yun

Sean Mirzadegan

From AWARN Alliance:

John Lawson Fiona James

From National Association of Broadcasters:

So Vang

Allison Neplokh

From Monroe Electronics:

Ed Czarnecki

From Sinclair Broadcast Group:

Rebecca Hanson Amanda Ota

From ONE Media, LLC:

Jerald Fritz

AWARN Alliance Comments On Emergency Alert System And Wireless Emergency Alerts

AWARN Alliance Comments on Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts

Before the

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

Washington, DC  20554

In the Matters ofAmendment of Part 11 of the Commission’s
Rules Regarding the Emergency Alert
System, and
Wireless Emergency Alerts

)

)

)

)

PS Docket No. 15-94

PS Docket No. 15-91

COMMENTS OF THE AWARN ALLIANCE

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The AWARN Alliance, composed of broadcasters, consumer electronics manufacturers, and other technology companies,1 suggests a holistic, multi-faceted approach to improving emergency alerting, which would include both broadcast and broadband networks. No single alerting pathway can solve all the requirements of an advanced public warning system. A complementary “division of labor” among wireless networks, Next Generation Television, and ATSC 3.0-enabled mobile and other consumer devices presents the greatest opportunity to achieve the Commission’s goals. The Alliance also supports the Notice’s suggestion of dialogue regarding a voluntary industry roadmap for further enhancing the capability of the nation’s alerting infrastructure.

LEVERAGING ADVANCED TELEVISION TECHNOLOGIES IN ALERTING

The Advanced Warning and Response Network (AWARN), based on “Next Generation Television” technology, will provide a powerful new tool for significantly improving the content, accessibly, pervasiveness, and reliability of America’s emergency alerting systems. AWARN is a next-generation, dual-use, public alert and warning system for a mobile, 21st Century America.

AWARN will utilize the nation’s existing terrestrial television broadcasting spectrum and infrastructure and leverages Advanced Emergency Alerting (AEA) capabilities that are designed into the coming IP-based Next Generation Television broadcasting standard (see below).

Uniquely, AWARN will be able to distribute rich media alerts simultaneously to an unlimited number of enabled fixed, mobile, and hand-held devices, indoors or outdoors across an entire television broadcast coverage area. These capabilities will far exceed warning and disaster recovery communications available to the American public today.

INTER-INDUSTRY ALLIANCE FOR THE RAPID DEPLOYMENT OF AWARN

The AWARN Alliance applauds the Commission for its ongoing work to improve America’s emergency alerting capabilities, including this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“Notice”). The Alliance welcomes the opportunity, described in the Notice, to “dialogue about creating a voluntary industry roadmap for further enhancing the capability of the nation’s alerting infrastructure to carry a Presidential Alert in a manner consistent with consumer expectations of IP-based communications technologies.”2

The AWARN Alliance is one of four signatories (along with America’s Public Television Stations (APTS), the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)) to the “Joint Petition for Rulemaking Seeking to Authorize Permissive Use of the ‘Next Generation TVBroadcast Television Standard.”3 The joint petition describes the many consumer benefits of Next Generation Television, including the AEA function that is a core capability of the new standard on which AWARN is built.

ALERTING AND THE WORLD’S FIRST IP-BASED TV TRANSMISSION PLATFORM

In its inquiry into the potential of new technologies to approach alerting, the Notice notes that “broadcast television is exploring IP-based offerings.”4 In fact, the broadcast television, consumer electronics, and allied industries have moved far beyond exploration to achieving major milestones in the development of the world’s first IP-based broadcast transmission platform, also known as “ATSC 3.0” or Next Generation Television.5 The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), an international, non-profit organization, has worked intensively over a number of years to develop the voluntary suite of standards that comprise the new ATSC 3.0 next-generation standard that bears its name.6

In comments filed by the ATSC on May 26 in the Commission’s Public Notice seeking comment on the joint petition for rulemaking seeking to authorize permissive use of Next Generation Television,7 ATSC summarized some of the far-reaching capabilities of the new technology standard:

Unlike the current standard, ATSC 3.0 is based on Internet Protocol technology. It is, in fact, the world’s first IP-based broadcast transmission platform. As such, ATSC 3.0 merges the best capabilities of over-the-air and broadband viewing. ATSC 3.0 will allow broadcasters to present consumers with “more,” “better” and “new”– more streams, more choices, more channels, more flexibility, better picture, better sound and new personalization and interactive features that will enhance the experience of watching broadcast content. ATSC 3.0’s use of Internet Protocol, HTML5 and other web technologies enables the marriage of broadcasting and the Internet and its rich ecosystem of content, services and consumer devices… 

[T]he standard will facilitate dramatic improvements in the robustness of signals, allowing improved indoor and mobile reception for the growing number of American households relying, in whole or in part, on over-the-air broadcasting to receive linear television programming. ATSC 3.0 also supports accessibility advances, such as multiple closed-captioning services and assistive audio for improved video description intelligibility. Equally significant, the standard has the potential to deliver enhanced emergency alerts and the capability to wake-up devices in “sleep” mode to deliver time- sensitive, often life-saving emergency information. Just as consumers will benefit from ATSC 3.0, so too will broadcasters.

The next generation broadcast platform made possible by ATSC 3.0 is exceptionally robust. It facilitates simple deployment of Single Frequency Network transmission systems that can greatly improve signal reception, particularly on mobile devices and television sets without outdoor antennas. As such, the platform can deliver TV signals deep inside buildings and on-the-go, allowing broadcasters to reach their audiences anytime, anywhere. New audience measurement tools also come with ATSC 3.0, as do advanced advertising features such as interactive and real time ad-targeting capabilities.

AWARN will leverage the native features of ATSC 3.0, as noted in the above-referenced ATSC comments, to achieve its major improvements in emergency communications.

NEW SOLUTIONS FOR MAINTAINING AND UPGRADING THE EAS

The Commission seeks to ensure that Emergency Alert System (EAS) alerts endure and remain reliable as technology advances. Further, the Commissions seeks comment on “whether EAS alerts offered through different technologies may have a greater potential to meet the emergency information needs of the public than do alerts offered via traditional media.”8 AWARN and Next Generation TV will not only ensure the durability of the EAS but also greatly improve its effectiveness in meeting the emergency needs of the public. One of the unique features of Next Generation TV is that it is both a traditional medium – broadcast television – and something completely new – a “high-power, high-tower, nationwide wireless IP network.”9 This combination of media types underlies the power of Next Generation TV to achieve the Commission’s goals for improved alerting.

GEO-TARGETING, PERSONALIZATION, AND THE “CYCLE OF INFORMATION SHARING”

The Notice asks specifically about the potential for new technologies to improve geo-targeting, offer personalization, and to “give rise to a cycle of information sharing consistent with a ‘many- to-one/one-to-many’ alerting dynamic.”10 Next Generation TV, through AWARN, has native capabilities that enable alerting to achieve all of these goals.

Geo-targeting and personalization are core capabilities of Next Generation TV that can be utilized by AWARN. Although all devices in a transmitter coverage area may physically receive the AWARN alert message, geocodes added to the message by alert originators combined with devices being aware of their location (either through a GPS-based (or similar) mechanism or via user setup) means that only alerts intended for a geographic area will be displayed on enabled devices that are in that area. Likewise, personalization allows users the option to display alerts that are intended for another geographic area, such as a child’s school, when the parent is away at work. Personalization also allows users to pre-determine the types of (non-Presidential) alerts or hazard levels that will trigger the display of an alert on their device.

Next Generation TV also is perfectly designed for a “many-to-one/one-to-many” alerting system. High-power signals transmitted from tall towers allow the Next Generation TV signal to blanket an entire coverage area. And the all-IP nature of Next Generation TV enables the instantaneous formation of “hybrid networks” to provide a seamless return path using an enabled receive device’s connectivity. For example, a smart TV may receive the robust Next Generation TV signal through a small indoor antenna while also connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. A mobile device may receive the Next Generation TV signal indoors or outdoors while maintaining a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. This hybrid connectivity allows for instant interaction with the alert content via “clickable URLs” embedded in the message for social media or other communications pathways.

The technological innovation of Next Generation TV hybrid networks builds upon years of experience by broadcasters to “crowd source” information during the creation of their news and weather programming.11 Next Generation TV will enable broadcasters and consumers to take this “cycle of information sharing” to a whole new level, especially during emergencies. This crowd sourcing will continue to enhance the role of broadcasters as “first informers,” but data from hybrid networks can also be directed to emergency managers to help them create a “common operating picture” during a public emergency.

ABILITY TO “WAKE UP” DEVICES

Advanced alerting is designed into the core “physical layer” of the ATSC 3.0 standard and is carried in the highly robust system discovery or “bootstrap” signal of the television transmission. The bootstrap component of the ATSC 3.0 suite of standards was the first to receive final approval by the global ATSC. Transmitting AWARN alerts in the bootstrap means that all ATSC 3.0-enabled receive devices, whether smart TVs, tablets, or smartphones, will receive the alerts. It also offers the possibility that these devices can be designed to “wake up” when an alert is received. As noted in the April 13, 2016 Joint Petition for Rulemaking for the permissive use of the ATSC 3.0 standard for broadcast transmission:

This new standard will enable life-saving advancements in emergency alerting, which could include: Signaling that permits receivers to alert consumers of an emergency even when the receiver is powered off. This functionality can be used to cause the receiver to “wake up” to process emergency alert information – an invaluable advance, particularly in areas prone to tornadoes, earthquakes and other sudden disasters (in addition to man- made emergencies)…12

A leading broadcast technologist explained how the bootstrap technology works for alerting:

The bootstrap signal also will play a key role in emergency alerting. For example, a portable receiver in a tablet or cellphone only has to turn its receiver on long enough to pick up the bootstrap signal (2 milliseconds). The receiver does not need to decode the preamble or the rest of the frame or turn on additional demodulation circuitry until the bootstrap signals that an emergency alert is available, reducing power consumption and thus providing longer battery life. When an alert is received, it can switch on the demodulator and receive and display the emergency message and supplemental data.13

AWARN’S RICH MEDIA CAPABILITIES

The AWARN Alliance supports policies to offer expanded and enhanced alert messages. As noted in comments filed by the AWARN Coalition (a predecessor to the Alliance) in an earlier proceeding for improving Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs),14 simply including telephone numbers and URLs in WEA messages, as proposed in the Notice, can accelerate network overload as people try to make calls or click on web links. Similarly, including rich media elements (such as photos, videos, and evacuation maps) in a WEA alert can lead to wireless network congestion and failure.

A better approach is to leverage the rich-media capabilities of AWARN combined with the internal memory of mobile and other smart devices to receive and cache vital emergency information that cannot fit into a text message. Instead of users requesting critical information by calling a number or accessing a website, users can receive life-saving information that is ubiquitously transmitted and stored in the background on devices as the initial alert is sent. If wireless network connectivity is available (more likely if alerting content is off-loaded from the network by AWARN), users can click on links or phone numbers embedded in the AWARN message.

Rich-media emergency information is sent by alert originators using the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) and the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), transmitted via AWARN over the broadcast signal, and can be downloaded in the background to user devices. The content could include video, radar images and evacuation maps; text, photographic, or pictorial instructions; inundation maps; plume models for chemical or radiological releases; and shelter locations, treatment protocols, and other recovery information. Stations that produce their own news and weather programming would have the option of inserting their own clips as additional rich-media elements into the alert. People in harm’s way would have this deeper alert and response information sent via AWARN literally at their fingertips. They would only need to open a menu on their device and select the files most relevant to them.

OPPORTUNITY AND CHALLENGES FOR ALERT ORIGINATORS

The bandwidth provided by AWARN creates opportunities for alert originators to aggregate much more rich media content for the alerts than they can easily disseminate to the public today. As noted above, this content may include video (such as from surveillance cameras), radar images and evacuation maps; photographic, or pictorial instructions; inundation maps; plume models; and other content that people need to take action to protect themselves or others. For this reason, the AWARN Alliance suggests that the Commission also assess the readiness and capacity of emergency managers and alert originators to acquire, aggregate, and assemble into CAP format rich media content that can leverage the greatly increased transmission capacity of AWARN. It may be that efforts are necessary to encourage, train, and support emergency managers to take full advantage of the capacity that AWARN offers.

VOLUNTARY APPROACH IS LEADING TO INNOVATION

We applaud the Commission’s goal of dialogue for creation of “a voluntary industry roadmap for further enhancing the capability of the nation’s alerting infrastructure…”15 ATSC 3.0 and AWARN themselves are the products of the voluntary commitment of resources from many organizations. Innovation in next generation emergency alerting that adheres to current public safety regulations and requirements, but which can explore new approaches as well, is most likely to lead to the continuing improvement that AWARN represents.

The AWARN Alliance itself embodies this voluntary commitment by major segments of the broadcasting, consumer electronics, and allied industries. Together, Alliance members Capitol Broadcasting Company, Pearl TV, and Sinclair Broadcast Group reach over 85 percent of U.S. television households. Pearl TV members own and operate more than 200 network-affiliated TV stations.16 Sinclair Broadcast Group owns or operates 171 TV stations and, through its affiliate, ONE Media, also has been a major contributor to the development of Next Generation Television. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) represents the television broadcast networks and local stations nationwide. PBS serves 350 member stations.

Other members of the Alliance include GatesAir, a leading television transmitter manufacturer, Monroe Electronics and its Digital Alert Systems subsidiary, whose EAS encoder/decoder equipment is in the majority of U.S. broadcast television stations and whose emergency information accessibility solutions are also widely used in the industry, and Triveni Digital, whose systems enable television broadcasters to deploy enhanced programs and services to their viewers. Another member is Airwavz TV, which recently unveiled a new mobile phone accessory – which operates in ATSC 1.0 but which plans to migrate to ATSC 3.0 – that will make it easier to view digital television on-the-go. Alliance member and consumer electronics leader LG Electronics and Zenith, its U.S. R&D subsidiary, are key developers of the technologies in the majority of the “physical layer” transmission system at the heart of the ATSC

The ATSC, which has created the ATSC 3.0/Next Generation TV standard, is an international non-profit organization that currently has approximately 150 member organizations representing the broadcast, broadcast equipment, motion picture, consumer electronics, computer, cable, satellite, and semi-conductor industries. Within the ATSC Technology Group developing ATSC 3.0, more than 30 specialist groups, subcommittees and ad hoc groups are actively engaged, participating in nearly 600 meetings in 2015 alone. Over the past year, ATSC expert volunteers spent an estimated 24,770 person-hours developing the ATSC 3.0 standard.17

A major subset of these same ATSC members worked to include AEA capability as one of the 13 native “use cases” for the new standard.18 AWARN represents the first implementation of these AEA capabilities. Many of the ATSC members who have supported AEA and AWARN worked previously to create the original Mobile DTV and Mobile EAS standards, which provide a solid foundation for AEA. The basic workflows for receiving CAP message from FEMA IPAWS that were developed for Mobile EAS using ATSC 1.0 have been transferred directly into AWARN workflows. Last year, FEMA began testing the first-generation Mobile EAS technology that underlies AWARN at its IPAWS Lab in Indian Head, Maryland.19

It also is important to note that, while transmission only of Presidential Alerts is mandatory for broadcasters, television and radio broadcasters have for many decades carried state and local alerts voluntarily and at their discretion to balance the needs of their viewers. This arrangement has served local communities and the nation well and continues to be the backbone of our alerting system at all levels, as noted in the Notice. This voluntary cooperation among the various federal, state, local, and tribal alert originators, broadcasters, and other stakeholders will continue into the future as the IP-based AWARN creates greatly expanded, yet targeted, alerting capabilities.

TECHNOLOGICAL POTENTIAL FOR IMPROVEMENTS IN ACCESSIBILITY

AWARN provides the technical capability to transmit both multilingual and accessible alerts. Features such as text-to-speech and vibrate-upon-alert for mobile devices, along with all of the rich media content available to users, mean that AWARN alerts will reach many more Americans, including those with aural or visual impairments. Besides AEA, accessibility is another native capability of ATSC 3.0.20

ADVANTAGES OF ALERTING INDEPENDENTLY OF THE INTERNET

The Commission seeks comment on the ability of “Over-the-Top” (“OTT”) alerting to improve EAS alert personalization.21 As noted above, the all-IP nature of Next Generation TV enables hybrid broadcast-broadband networks. AWARN alerts can work interactively with OTT content and user interfaces. Fortunately, AWARN provides capability for personalized alerting regardless of whether an Internet connection is available. Personalization can be handled locally, on the device, through options presented to the user in an application on the device.

Given the strong interest in production of ATSC 3.0-enabled receive devices by major players in the consumer electronics industry (see infra bullet notes § Next Generation TV Launching 2017), it is plausible that ATSC 3.0 receive capability in consumer devices could become as ubiquitous as Wi-Fi radios in devices today. In this way, the power of Internet Protocol in Next Generation TV can be harnessed to bring many of the advantages of OTT alerting without the need to access the actual Internet.

NEXT GENERATION TV LAUNCHING 2017

ATSC 3.0, in development since 2013, is on track for widespread deployment and with it AWARN:

  • In February 2016, leading South Korean broadcasters announced that they will begin transmitting ATSC 3.0 broadcasts in February 2017.22 Korea’s progress in ATSC 3.0 deployment is significant for the United States because both are “ATSC countries” and among U.S. broadcasters “…there is keen interest in South Korea and their fast-track launch of next-generation ”23
  • In April at the NAB Show 2016, LG Electronics and its Zenith R&D subsidiary showcased a new wireless network antenna that can receive and process Next Generation TV broadcast signals and redistribute them via Wi-Fi. It was built around the world’s first ATSC 3.0 tuner demodulator 24
  • Sinclair and LG conducted the first over-the-air broadcast of AWARN alerting using the ATSC 3.0 standard at the NAB Show 2016.25 The alert was transmitted from Las Vegas’ Black Mountain on Channel 45, under an experimental FCC license obtained by ONE Media, Sinclair’s joint venture, and received with a simple antenna and LG’s new ATSC 3.0 chip tuner/demodulator at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
  • Last year, Samsung Electronics America agreed to work with the Pearl TV consortium and Sinclair Broadcast Group “to support the development and implementation of the ATSC 3.0 standard.”26 Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer, also announced new Next Generation Television products at the NAB Show 27
  • To date, of the 20 total standards that comprise the ATSC 3.0 suite, one is now a final standard, one is at the last steps of finalization (Proposed Standard), and eleven more have advanced to Candidate Standard level.28 Essentially, the major core elements of ATSC 3.0 are in the final stages of standardization, which will allow voluntary adoption by U.S. broadcasters in the very near future, subject to Commission permission for voluntary transmission.
  • The explicit backing of the Joint Petition for Rule Making by the Consumer Technology Association, which represents consumer electronics manufacturers, underscores the industry’s strong interest in swift commercial adoption of Next Generation TV-enabled consumer products.

SUMMARY 

AWARN presents a rare opportunity to dramatically improve America’s public safety communications capability. AWARN can provide this public benefit by dual-use of the backbone of the nation’s existing television broadcasting transmission capacity and the new technology of ATSC 3.0. It delivers rich media content to an unlimited number of mobile and fixed devices simultaneously, and since AWARN is completely independent of the cellular networks, it can actually reduce stress on those networks in public emergencies. This means high reliability and mass, but targeted, instantaneous distribution. Both AWARN and ATSC 3.0 are technologies that are on track for U.S. deployment. Because they are IP-based, both are extensible, allowing for technological improvements with time. The AWARN Alliance urges the Commission to include AWARN as enabled by ATSC 3.0 in its plans for advanced emergency alerting but to allow implementation details to be worked out by the industries and other stakeholders involved.

AWARN ALLIANCE

By: /s/                                                       John M. Lawson

Executive Director AWARN Alliance

1602 Belle View Blvd #570

Alexandria, Virginia 22307

 

June 8, 2016

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

1 The AWARN Alliance is composed of Airwavz.TV, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, Pearl TV, Capitol Broadcasting Company/WRAL, Digital Alert Systems/Monroe Electronics, Gates Air, LG Electronics/Zenith, ONE Media, National Association of Broadcasters, PBS, and Triveni Digital.

2 See Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: In the Matters of Amendment of Part 11 of the Commission’s Rules Regarding the Emergency Alert System PS Docket No. 15-94; Wireless Emergency Alerts PS Docket No. 15-91 at ¶ 75

3 See Media Bureau Seeks Comment on Joint Petition for Rulemaking of America’s Public Television Stations, The AWARN Alliance, The Consumer Technology Association, and The National Association of Broadcasters Seeking to Authorize Permissive Use of the “Next Generation TV” Broadcast Television Standard, Public Notice, GN Dock- et No. 16-142, DA 16-451 (rel. Apr. 26, 2016).

4 See Notice at ¶ 88

5 “President’s Memo: Broken Record and Breaking Records,” The Standard, ATSC.org, the Advanced Television System Committee, June 2016 http://atsc.org/newsletter/presidents-memo-broken-record-and-breaking-records/

6 Formed in 1983, the ATSC developed the current ATSC Digital Television Standard (now known as “ATSC 1.0”), which was adopted by the Commission in 1996 and has been serving American consumers with HDTV and multicasting services since 1998.

7 See Comments submitted by the Advanced Television Systems Committee, Inc. in response to Media Bureau Seeks Comment On Joint Petition for Rulemaking of America’s Public Television Stations, The AWARN Alliance, The Consumer Technology Association, And The National Association Of Broadcasters Seeking To Authorize Permissive Use Of The “Next Generation TV” Broadcast Television Standard GN Docket No. 16-142

8 See Notice at ¶ 91

9 See “Summit: 3.0 Could Be Boon to Public Safety,” TVNewsCheck, November 19, 2015, quote from Sam Matheny, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, National Association of Broadcasters, at the Smart Spectrum Summit http://www.tvnewscheck.com/article/90179/summit-30-could-be-boon-to-public-safety

10 See Notice at  ¶ 91.

 11 See comments by Peter Sockett, director of engineering, WRAL in Raleigh, NC in “AWARN Receives Strong Support at First-Ever Smart Spectrum Summit,” blog at AWARN.org, published November 2015. http://awarn.org/blog/awarn-receives-strong-support-at-first-ever-smart-spectrum-summit/

12 Joint Petition for Rulemaking, In the Matter of Authorization of Next Generation TV for Permissive Use as a Television Standard, by America’s Public Television Stations, AWARN Alliance, Consumer Technology Association, and National Association of Broadcasters (filed April 13, 2016)

13 Doug Lung, vice president of technology, NBC Stations, Western Region in his column “The ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer—Bootstrap Basics,” TVTechnology, December 23, 2015 http://www.tvtechnology.com/expertise/0003/the- atsc-30-physical-layerbootstrap-basics/277638

14 See Comments by the AWARN Coalition In the Matter of Improving Wireless Emergency Alerts and Community-Initiated Alerting, PS Docket No. 15–91; FCC 15–154

15 See Notice at ¶ 75

16 Pearl member companies are Cox Media Group, the E.W. Scripps Company, Graham Media Group, Hearst Television Inc., Media General Inc., Meredith Local Media Group, Raycom Media, and TEGNA, Inc.

17 See Supra note 8

18 The 13 use cases of ATSC 3.0 are: Flexible Use of Spectrum; Robustness; Mobile; Ultra HD; Hybrid Services; Multi-view/Multi-screen; 3D Content (Video); Enhanced & Immersive Audio; Accessibility; Advanced Emergency Alerting; Personalization/Interactivity; Advanced Monetization; and Common World Standard

19 “FEMA to Assess Future Over-the-Air Broadcast Alerting Technology,” FEMA News Release Number: HQ-15-073, October 20, 2015

20 See supra note 18.

21 See Notice at ¶ 95

22 Tom Butts, TV Technology: “Korea to Launch ATSC 3.0 Broadcasts in 2017,” TV Technology, February 24, 2016 http://www.tvtechnology.com/atsc3/0031/korea-to-launch-atsc-30-broadcasts-in-2017/278022

23 Sam Matheny, Executive Vice President and CTO, NAB, as quoted by Deborah McAdams, TV Technology: NAB 2016: LG, Korean Broadcasters Demo ATSC 3.0 Progress – April 17, 2016

24 “NAB 2016: A Lot of Firsts for ATSC 3.0,” Broadcasting and Cable, April 14, 2016

25 “NAB 2016: Sinclair, LG Test ATSC 3.0 AWARN,” TV Technology, April 18, 2016

26 “Samsung Moves Forward on ATSC 3.0 With Pearl TV, Sinclair,” Broadcasting and Cable, June 17, 2015

27 “Samsung and LG Focus On ATSC 3.0 UHD Transmission At NAB,” CDRInfo, June 7, 2016

28 See ATSC.org – http://www.atsc.org/standards/candidate-standards/ “A Candidate Standard is a document that has received significant review within a specialist group. Advancement of a document to Candidate Standard is an explicit call to those outside of the related specialist group for implementation and technical feedback. This is the phase at which the specialist group is responsible for formally acquiring that experience or at least defining the expectations of implementation.”

AWARN Could Deliver Earthquake Early Warnings By Utilizing ATSC 3.0

AWARN Could Deliver Earthquake Early Warnings By Utilizing ATSC 3.0

Before the

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

Washington, DC  20554

In the Matter ofPublic Safety And Homeland Security Bureau Seeks Comment On Ways To Facilitate Earthquake-Related Emergency Alerts

)

)

)

)

)

)

)

PS Docket No. 16-32

Comments of the AWARN Alliance

The Advanced Warning and Response Network (AWARN), utilizing the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) 3.0 standard, could provide a powerful backbone for delivering earthquake early warnings (EEWs) to the public from terrestrial television stations. Reducing or eliminating latency in current systems to achieve the congressional goal of distribution and receipt of EEWs in fewer than three seconds, however, would require a coordinated exploration among stakeholders. The AWARN Alliance would support this voluntary effort.

AWARN is a next-generation, dual-use, public alert and warning system for a mobile, 21st Century America. AWARN utilizes the nation’s existing terrestrial television broadcasting spectrum and infrastructure and leverages advanced emergency alerting and other capabilities that are designed into the ATSC 3.0 “Next Generation TV” standard. AWARN can distribute text and rich media alerts simultaneously to an unlimited number of ATSC 3.0-enabled fixed, mobile, and hand-held devices, indoors or outdoors across an entire metropolitan area.

As noted in the April 13, 2016 Joint Petition for Rulemaking for the permissive use of the ATSC 3.0 standard for broadcast transmission:

This new standard will enable life-saving advancements in emergency alerting, which could include:

  • Signaling that permits receivers to alert consumers of an emergency even when the receiver is powered off. This functionality can be used to cause the receiver to “wake up” to process emergency alert information – an invaluable advance, particularly in areas prone to tornadoes, earthquakes and other sudden disasters (in addition to man-made emergencies);
  • Localization filtering of emergency alerts to tailor information for specific geographic areas.[1]

Organizations supporting AWARN have described its capabilities in a related FCC proceeding.[2] In April, broadcasters and technology companies formed the AWARN Alliance to support the timely deployment of AWARN as broadcasters voluntarily deploy ATSC 3.0 transmission.[3]

Conceptually, AWARN could enable EEWs to meet the congressional goal of delivery and reception by the public in fewer than three seconds. Once alerts are transmitted by a broadcast station, they travel at the speed of light and can be received on an unlimited number of ATSC 3.0-enabled consumer and automated devices without any network congestion or delay. Achieving the under-three-second goal for EEW transmission as a practical matter would require a coordinated effort.

Technical, as well as regulatory, solutions to reduce or eliminate latency in current alerting and video encoding technologies and processes would require a high level of voluntary cooperation among broadcasters, allied technology companies, ShakeAlert originators, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, and other stakeholders around specific requirements. For this reason, the AWARN Alliance suggests that the Commission convene one or more workshops and/or an advisory committee to assist the Commission in completing its report to Congress, as outlined in the Public Notice. The Alliance stands ready to support the Commission’s efforts.

Respectfully submitted,

______/s/________

John M. Lawson

Executive Director

AWARN Alliance

7125 Park Terrace Drive

Alexandria, VA 22307

Office: (703) 347-7070

[email protected]

AWARN.org

                                                                                              May 9, 2016

[1] Joint Petition for Rulemaking, In the Matter of Authorization of Next Generation TV for Permissive Use as a Television Standard, by America’s Public Television Stations, AWARN Alliance, Consumer Technology Association, and National Association of Broadcasters (filed April 13, 2016)

[2] See Improving Wireless Emergency Alerts and Community-initiated Alerting, Notice of Proposed

Rulemaking, 30 FCC Rcd 13781 (2015) (WEA Fourth NPRM) (seeking comment on proposed enhancements to

Wireless Emergency Alerts)

[3] AWARN Alliance members include Airwavz, Capitol Broadcasting Company/WRAL; Digital Alert Systems/Monroe Electronics; GatesAir; LG Electronics/Zenith; Pearl TV; PILOT (formerly NAB Labs); Public Broadcasting Service (PBS); Sinclair Broadcast Group; and Triveni Digital.

AWARN Coalition Letter To The Honorable Ron Johnson

AWARN Coalition Letter to The Honorable Ron Johnson

AWARN Coalition members wrote to the Senate and House in support of pending legislation to update and reform the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). The Coalition endorsed the bills’ requirements that IPAWS be designed to adapt to and integrate future technologies for communicating directly with the public, which could certainly include the Advanced Warning and Response Network. A sample of the correspondence is below.

June 4, 2015

The Honorable Ron Johnson, Chair
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
340 Dirksen Senate Office Building
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Johnson:

We are writing in support of your efforts to update and reform the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). Among other elements, we specifically endorse the requirements in your pending legislation (S. 1180) that IPAWS be designed to adapt to and integrate future technologies for communicating directly with the public.

A near-term technology that can help achieve some of the key goals of S. 1180 is the Advanced Warning and Response Network (AWARN), a dual-use, broadcast-based system announced earlier this year. AWARN is a next-generation alerting system developed by a coalition of interests that includes LG Electronics and its U.S. R&D subsidiary Zenith; GatesAir; Digital Alert Systems, a division of Monroe Electronics, Inc.; the National Association of Broadcasters; Public Broadcasting Service; Capitol Broadcasting Company/WRAL; Triveni Digital; Wearable Xlabs; and Convergence Services.

Consistent with the goals of your legislation, AWARN will be capable of providing emergency alerts that are much broader and more informative than 90-character mobile text messages, the Wireless Emergency Alert System (WEA), or the legacy Emergency Alert System. Utilizing the existing backbone of the nation’s television broadcasting infrastructure, AWARN will deliver rich media content – such as live video alerts, video files, photos, weather radar, evacuation maps, multiple translations, and accessible media – to an unlimited number of enabled mobile phones, television sets, tablets or other devices without overloading the cellular network, or be subject to broadband outages during emergencies.

As more local agencies use IPAWS and WEA, the challenge posed by current technology limitations will only become more acute.  AWARN allows emergency messages to point people to places where they can get more information, something neither WEA nor EAS currently does well.

AWARN is based on the same open standards as IPAWS, such as the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), and is designed for seamless incorporation into IPAWS. It is a congestion-free and standards-based approach that utilizes terrestrial broadcasting rather than cellular network connectivity, which will yield high reliability and mass, instantaneous distribution even when cellular and broadband networks fail and the electric grid is down (for devices equipped with a battery supply). AWARN cost-effectively addresses the need for a new approach to emergency communications that you have commendably identified.

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and/or your staff to provide more information about our efforts and the many benefits that next-generation alerting systems can provide.  Please contact Kevin Curtin at (202) 638-1260 or [email protected] to let us know how we can assist you with your legislation and provide additional data about the important new ways of providing emergency alerts and notices so as to ensure the safety of the American public.

Sincerely,

Capitol Broadcasting Co. / WRAL
Convergence Services, Inc.
LG Electronics USA
Monroe Electronics, Inc./Digital Alert Systems
National Association of Broadcasters
Public Broadcasting Service
Triveni Digital
Wearable XLabs
Zenith Electronics LLC

2015 AWARN Fact Sheet

2015 AWARN Fact Sheet

PDF_Download

Download a PDF of this Information

Advanced Warning and Response Network for a Mobile America

Terrestrial broadcasting represents the backbone of an advanced warning and response network that can reach tens of millions of American in times of emergency. Relying on the “dual use” of existing television broadcasting infrastructure, the Advanced Warning and Response Network (AWARN) offers live TV emergency alerts and its underlying technology of digital television broadcasting can distribute multiple video and other rich media assets to an unlimited number of handheld, vehicular, or fixed receive devices. Of critical importance AWARN and related next-generation technology under development can help meet the disaster communication needs of the public and first responders alike, without placing any bandwidth demand on cellular networks.

Reliable, Secure and Ubiquitous

  • No bottlenecks: AWARN helps reduce Unintentional Denial of Service (DoS) by bypassing bandwidth bottlenecks that overload current cellular-based systems.
  • Hardened: Broadcast stations, with back-up generators and fuel reserves, typically stay on the air even when electricity to whole regions is cut.
  • Non-Grid Dependent: Battery-powered mobile devices are rechargeable in-car.
  • Accessible: Features such as text-to-speech and vibrate-upon-alert for mobile devices, which, along with all of the rich media content available to users, mean that AWARN alerts will reach many more Americans, including those with hearing or sight limitations. Multilingual support can extend that reach to millions of non-English speaking Americans.
  • Geo-targeting: Utilizing geographic location information embedded in the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) message, combined with the location awareness of receiving devices, AWARN alerts can be displayed on only the devices targeted to receive the alerts.
  • Encryption enabled: Digital TV signals can simultaneously send public alerts while sending specially encrypted video and other data feeds to first responders and emergency managers.

Interoperable with Existing Networks

  • Seamless Integration: AWARN is already built to the CAP standard and is designed for seamless incorporation into the U.S. Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).
  • Open Technical Standard: AWARN is planned as a fundamental element of the emerging ATSC 3.0 broadcast TV standard. AWARN’s predecessor technology, Mobile EAS, was approved by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) in 2013, with the M-EAS open standard is designated as ATSC A/153 and using Internet Protocol (IP). Also, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has a Recommended Practice (CEA-CEB-26) that guides the inclusion of mobile emergency alerting in mobile receiving devices.
  • Federal recognition: AWARN predecessor Mobile EAS has been officially recognized by a FCC advisory committee. In its final report to the Commission, the Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council III (CSRIC III) encouraged the deployment of M-EAS in mobile phones.
  • Station Deployment: Capitol Broadcasting’s WRAL/Raleigh is authorized under FEMA’s Memorandum of Agreement to access and retransmit live alerts . Four TV stations in Florida (WESH, WPTV, WFLX and WPBF) deployed elements of live TV video emergency alerting for the 2014 hurricane season.
MEAS Coalition Comments On DRAFT NISTIR 8018

MEAS Coalition Comments on DRAFT NISTIR 8018

PDF_Download

Download a PDF of this Information

Public Safety Mobile Application Security Requirements Workshop Summary (DRAFT NISTIR 8018)

The Mobile EAS Coalition commends APCO International, in cooperation with FirstNet and the Department of Commerce, for convening the workshop titled “Public Safety Mobile Application Security Requirements.” We welcome the opportunity extended by the NIST Computer Security Division to comment on DRAFT NISTIR 8018.

Mobile EAS and related advanced services currently in development can be a powerful, cost-effective, and near-term solution for at least some of the challenges identified in the workshop, specifically unintentional denial of service (DoS) caused by predictable congestion of the FirstNet LTE infrastructure. As the workshop participants noted, “Video upload will likely place the most strain on FirstNet and is one of the easiest network demands to conceptualize.” The inherent one-to-many architecture of digital broadcasting technology can be a very powerful complement to the unicast architecture of LTE, thereby conserving FirstNet bandwidth for other communications needs.

Relying on the dual use of existing television broadcasting infrastructure, Mobile EAS and its underlying technology of digital television (DTV) broadcasting, can distribute multiple video and other rich media assets to an unlimited number of handheld, vehicular, or fixed receive devices. Critically, it can do this without placing any bandwidth demand on the LTE network. M-EAS and DTV are most effective at distributing or redistributing video and other rich media assets from the incident commander to field units, including video acquired from the field that needs to be retransmitted more broadly to other units. An example using DTV would be live video acquired from police helicopters that needs to be seen not just by decision makers at headquarters, but the incident commander and multiple ground units as well.

Mobile EAS: Available Now Without Additional Spectrum

Mobile Emergency Alerting System (Mobile EAS or M-EAS) is a next-generation, dual-use, public alert and warning system for a mobile, 21st Century America. It utilizes the backbone of the nation’s existing television broadcasting infrastructure and the powerful new technology of Mobile DTV. By using terrestrial digital broadcasting, M-EAS delivers rich media content to an unlimited number of mobile phones or other devices without utilizing, let alone stressing, the cellular network. It takes advantage of the one-to-many nature of broadcast television, thus ensuring high reliability and the mass, instantaneous distribution of life-saving information – crucial in emergency events when cellular networks may be unavailable.

Emergency Communications for the Public and First Responders

Very importantly, M-EAS can also deliver rich media content specifically to first responders in the field. Surveillance video, inundation maps or storm tracks, photos of suspects, plume models or medical treatment protocols, for example, can be delivered to field units without encumbering public safety networks needed for two-way communication.

In this way, M-EAS can provide a secure overlay network that can preserve and extend the capabilities of the planned FirstNet and existing public safety communications systems. The underlying technology of Mobile DTV fully incorporates conditional access digital rights management of commercial content, so encrypting sensitive media assets for access by only authorized users is already possible.

Standards-Based and Field Tested

M-EAS is built to the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) and is designed for seamless incorporation into the U.S. Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). M- EAS was standardized by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) as A/53 – Part 10 of the existing Mobile DTV standard in March 2013. ATSC also has convened a cross-industry Implementation Team to facilitate deployment.

M-EAS technology was developed through a collaboration of LG Electronics and its Zenith R&D Lab, PBS, Harris Broadcast (recently renamed GatesAir), Triveni Digital, and Monroe Electronics. Other companies, including, RoundBox, Expway, Elgato, and Siano Silicon, also have contributed to its development, as have NAB Labs, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Fisher Media (now Sinclair), Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc. and other commercial and public broadcasters.

M-EAS was successfully tested by public and commercial television stations in different regions of the country. WRAL (owned by Capitol Broadcasting Company, Raleigh, NC) was the first station to execute a memorandum of agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to receive and distribute IPAWSalerts. Several TV stations have deployed elements of M-EAS in West Palm Beach and Orlando, Florida, for the current hurricane season.

Lifeline to the Public Even When Cellular Is Disrupted or Jammed

M-EAS—using existing spectrum and commercial off-the-shelf technology—is highly complementary to, but in no way dependent upon, the cellular network before, during, and after disasters. M-EAS presents a rare opportunity to dramatically improve America’s public safety communications capability, requires no additional spectrum, and can be deployed through marginal investments in existing and planned infrastructures. It leverages the one-to-many architecture of broadcasting to overcome the chronic congestion of other networks.

Utilizing the backbone of the nation’s existing television broadcasting transmission capacity and the new technology of Mobile DTV, M-EAS delivers rich media content to an unlimited number of mobile phones or other television receiving devices. M- EAS alerts are carried seamlessly by the Mobile DTV (MDTV) service from the nation’s broadcasters. More than 150 U.S. television stations already are broadcasting MDTV signals. MDTV requires no additional spectrum, but does require special encoding equipment at television stations, as well as MDTV receivers in mobile phones, tablets and other hand-held TVs. For broadcasters who have deployed MDTV along with their regular broadcast services, M-EAS capability can be included at a relatively small incremental investment.

With an M-EAS alert, users are given the option to select specific and timely rich- media information pertaining specifically to that alert. M-EAS can also incorporate geo-codes in the CAP profile, thus leveraging the GPS capability in mobile devices for highly granular geo-targeting of alerts. All of these additional information assets, as well as geo-codes, are sent as packetized files via the broadcast signal, a one-to- many application that is not susceptible to overload.

Because it transmits multi-media content, M-EAS also provides accessibility for people with disabilities. It can deliver information through audio, video, images, vibrations, text, text-to-speech, and simultaneous translation. The alert can also “wake up” devices from standby mode whether or not they are being used for mobile TV viewing.

Hardened Infrastructure Makes M-EAS Non-Grid-Dependent

Whether deployed as a complement to FirstNet, as a public alerting system, or both, M-EAS also can mitigate an unintended DoS caused by widespread power outages. That’s because most television stations are “hardened” with uninterruptable power supplies (UPS), back up generators, and extended fuel reserves. This allows stations to provide vital services to the public and first responders as back up resources are brought in to restore the LTE network.

Under “best practices” recommended by the FCC’s Media Security and Reliability Councils I & II after the 9/11 attacks of 2001, most broadcast facilities have back-up power with large reserves of fuel for generators. Additionally, the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act of 2006 provided funding to noncommercial television licensees to, in part, install or upgrade back-up power, and most public stations have completed their backup power projects. This funding, from 2008 spectrum auction revenue, significantly added to the number of stations in a given market that are able to ride out electric power disruptions.

For these and other reasons (and unlike many cell towers), all television broadcast transmitters were reported to have stayed on the air before, during, and after Superstorm Sandy, regardless of whether their transmitters continued to receive power from the grid.1 As M-EAS utilizes the broadcast infrastructure, it reaps the benefits of this “hardened” system. Because cellphone and tablet batteries can be recharged from cars and other resources, M-EAS can be classified as “non-grid- dependent” from transmission to reception. This offers flexibility and resilience in emergency communications that other alerting avenues are unable to provide currently.

Future-Proofed for Next-Generation Broadcast Technologies

Consensus is building among leading U.S. broadcasters for the next-generation TV broadcasting standard, known as “ATSC 3.0,” and mobile TV will be a core service, allowing direct reception on enabled cell phones and tablets. In addition to other services such as 4K Ultra HD, advanced emergency alerting is planned to be an important component of the new standard as well. In fact, the ATSC has established basic system requirements that will leverage the already-available M-EAS standard, workflows and architecture for advanced EAS in the new broadcast system.

In addition to its mobile applications, ATSC 3.0 can significantly enhance the nation’s legacy Emergency Alert System (EAS), which traces its roots to the earliest stages of the Cold War. In combination with FirstNet, NG9-1-1, and other services provided by wireless carriers, cable and satellite providers, radio broadcasters, and federal, state, and local public safety agencies, broadcasters’ provision of ATSC 3.0 can play a major role in realizing the national aspiration for a robust, modern, emergency communications system.

Not only can ATSC 3.0 provide a powerful just-in-time complement to FirstNet, it also has the potential to become a backbone of the IPAWS interoperable “network of networks.” In the years ahead, because of ATSC 3.0, broadcast television will reach millions of viewers on tablets and smartphones as well as living room TV sets. Today’s proven Mobile EAS technology can be the foundation for a new era for

1 NYC TV Broadcasters Stay On-Air During Sandy, TV Technology, November 11, 2012 public alerting to a wide range of fixed and mobile consumer devices, as well as a powerful and cost-effective overlay system for first-responders.

For a general overview, please visit www.MobileEAS.org.

Support for FirstNet and 21st Century Public Safety Communications

The Mobile EAS Coalition supports FirstNet and shares its goal of improving emergency communications for our nation and local communities. The challenges faced by FirstNet in designing, provisioning, and deploying the network are unprecedented but solvable. The M-EAS Coalition realizes that our role in reducing stress on network bandwidth addresses only some of FirstNet’s challenges. But as trusted “first communicators,” and given our long history as the backbone of the legacy EAS, the broadcast industry has emergency communications in its DNA.

The Mobile EAS Coalition would welcome a dialogue with NIST, APCO, and/or FirstNet to further explore how we might contribute to the deployment of the public safety broadband network. With our bandwidth, reach, and long history of working with emergency managers, combined with powerful new digital technologies like MDTV, M-EAS, and ATSC 3.0, broadcasters can be effective partners with FirstNet. Along with other stakeholders, we can help FirstNet create a resilient public safety communications system for the mobile, connected America of the 21st Century.

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the following members of the M-EAS Coalition:

John I. Taylor
Vice President, Government Relations LG Electronics USA
1776 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20006 [email protected]

Jay Adrick
Technology Advisor GatesAir
4393 Digital Way
Mason OH 45040 [email protected]

Peter A. Sockett
Director of Engineering and Operations Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc. 2619 Western Blvd.
Raleigh, NC 27606
[email protected]

John Lawson (Primary Contact) President
Convergence Services, Inc. 7125 Park Terrace Drive Alexandria, VA 22307

(703) 347-7070

[email protected]

Ed Czarnecki, Ph.D.
Senior Director
Monroe Electronics, Inc.
100 Housel Ave.
Lyndonville, NY 14098 [email protected]

Richard Chernock, PhD
Chief Science Officer
Triveni Digital 40 Washington Road Princeton Junction, NJ 08550 [email protected]

Mark O’Brien
Executive Vice President SpectraRep
15120 Enterprise Court Chantilly, VA 22066 [email protected]

Bonnie Beeman
CEO and Founder
Wearable Xlabs
9628 123rd Ave SE
Renton, WA 98056 [email protected]

Andrew Carington
Vice President, General Counsel
Mark Turner
Vice President, Broadcast Technology Media General, Inc.
333 E. Franklin Street
Richmond, VA 23219 [email protected] [email protected]

Senate Committee On Commerce, Science, And Transportation’s Subcommittee On Communications, Technology, And The Internet

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet

PDF_Download

Download a PDF of this Information

Hearing On
“Preserving Public Safety and Network Reliability in the IP Transition,”
June 5, 2014

The Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet’s hearing on June 5, 2014 raised many issues relative to emergency communications and the need to ensure that public safety remains paramount during any transition to IP technology. As the Members of the Subcommittee noted, citizen access to networks and life-saving information during emergencies must be guaranteed.

While many existing networks and alert mechanisms were discussed during the hearing, additional measures and a more holistic and integrated approach to improving notifications during times of emergencies must be embraced. Particularly as our communications become increasingly mobile, we urge the Subcommittee and other policymakers to consider the importance of mobile television in providing robust, data-rich, and reliable information to citizens.

Mobile EAS: Available Now Without Additional Spectrum

Mobile Emergency Alerting System (Mobile EAS or M-EAS) is a next-generation, dual-use, public alert and warning system for a mobile, 21st Century America. It utilizes the backbone of the nation’s existing television broadcasting infrastructure and the powerful new technology of Mobile DTV. By using terrestrial broadcasting, M-EAS delivers rich media content to an unlimited number of mobile phones or other devices without overloading the cellular network. It thus ensures high reliability and the mass, instantaneous distribution of life-saving information, which is especially crucial in emergency events when cellular networks may be unavailable.

M-EAS is built to the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) and is designed for seamless incorporation into the U.S. Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) established after September 11, 2001. M-EAS technology was developed through a collaboration of LG Electronics and its Zenith R&D Lab, PBS, Harris Broadcast (recently renamed GatesAir), Triveni Digital, and Monroe Electronics. Other companies, including, RoundBox, Expway, Elgato, and Siano Silicon, also have contributed to its development, as have NAB Labs, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Fisher Media (now Sinclair), Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc. and other commercial and public broadcasters.

M-EAS was successfully tested by public and commercial television stations in different regions of the country. WRAL (owned by Capitol Broadcasting Company, Raleigh, NC) was the first station to move to actual M-EAS deployment and has a memorandum of agreement in place with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to receive and distribute IPAWS alerts. The Advanced Television Systems Committee adopted Mobile EAS, field-tested and proven, as an open industry standard in March 2013. Several other stations are deploying elements of M-EAS in West Palm Beach and Orlando, Florida, for the current hurricane season.

Lifeline to the Public Even When Cellular Is Disrupted or Jammed

M-EAS—using existing spectrum and commercial off-the-shelf technology—is highly complementary to, but not dependent upon, the cellular network before, during, and after disasters. M-EAS presents a rare opportunity to dramatically improve America’s public safety communications capability, requires no additional spectrum, and can be deployed through marginal investments in existing and planned infrastructures. It leverages the one-to-many architecture of broadcasting to overcome the chronic congestion of other networks.

Utilizing the backbone of the nation’s existing television broadcasting transmission capacity and the new technology of Mobile DTV, M-EAS delivers rich media content to an unlimited number of mobile phones or other television receiving devices. M- EAS alerts are carried seamlessly by the Mobile DTV (MDTV) service from the nation’s broadcasters. More than 150 U.S. television stations already are broadcasting MDTV signals. MDTV requires no additional spectrum, but does require special encoding equipment at television stations, as well as MDTV receivers in mobile phones, tablets and other hand-held TVs. As more broadcasters nationwide deploy MDTV along with their regular broadcast services, M-EAS capability can be included at a relatively small incremental investment.

With an M-EAS alert, users are given the option to select specific and timely rich- media information pertaining specifically to that alert. This rich-media information could include video, radar images and evacuation maps; local news and weather coverage; text, photographic, or pictorial instructions in a given emergency; and shelter location information and more. All of these additional information assets are sent as packetized files via the broadcast signal, a one-to-many application that is not susceptible to overload.

Because it transmits multi-media content, M-EAS also provides accessibility for people with disabilities. It can deliver information through audio, video, images, vibrations, text, text-to-speech, and simultaneous translation. The alert can also “wake up” devices from standby mode whether or not it’s being used for mobile TV viewing.

Hardened Infrastructure Makes M-EAS Non-Grid-Dependent

As the Public Telephone Switched Network (PTSN) is decommissioned, members of the Subcommittee expressed concern, rightly, about the vulnerability of all-IP systems to power interruptions at both cell towers and end-user locations. Because of the resiliency of broadcasting facilities when the grid is down, M-EAS can provide amelioration in this area as well.

Under “best practices” recommended by the Commission’s Media Security and Reliability Councils I & II after the 9/11 attacks of 2001, most all broadcast facilities have back-up power with large reserves of fuel for generators. Additionally, the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act of 2006 provided funding to noncommercial television licensees to, in part, install or upgrade back-up power, and those stations are now completing their backup power projects. This funding, from 2008 spectrum auction revenue, significantly added to the number of stations in a given market that are able to ride out electric power disruptions.

For these and other reasons (and unlike many cell towers), nearly all television broadcast transmitters stayed on the air before, during and after Superstorm Sandy, regardless of whether their transmitters continued to receive power from the grid.1 As M-EAS utilizes the broadcast infrastructure, it reaps the benefits of this “hardened” system. Because cellphone and tablet batteries can be recharged from cars and other resources, M-EAS can be classified as “non-grid-dependent” from transmission to reception. This offers flexibility and resilience in emergency communications that other alerting avenues are unable to provide

Emergency Communications for the Public and First Responders

Very importantly, M-EAS can also deliver rich media content specifically to first responders in the field. Surveillance video, photos of suspects, plume models or medical treatment protocols, for example, can be delivered to field units without encumbering public safety networks needed for two-way communication. In this way, M-EAS can provide a secure overlay network that can preserve and extend the capabilities of the planned FirstNet and existing first responder communications systems.

1 NYC TV Broadcasters Stay On-Air During Sandy, TV Technology, November 11, 2012

Future-Proofed for Next-Generation Broadcast Technologies

Consensus is building among leading U.S. broadcasters for the next-generation TV broadcasting standard known as ATSC 3.0, and mobile TV will be a centerpiece. In addition to other services such as 4K Ultra HD, advanced emergency alerting is planned to be an important component of the new standard as well. In fact, the Advanced Television Systems Committee (the international body conducting the standard-setting process for next-generation TV) already has established basic system requirements that will leverage the already-available M-EAS standard, workflows and architecture for advanced EAS in the new broadcast system.

In addition to its mobile applications, ATSC 3.0 can significantly enhance the nation’s legacy Emergency Alert System (EAS), which traces its roots to the earliest stages of the Cold War. In combination with NG9-1-1 and other services provided by wireless carriers, cable and satellite providers, radio broadcasters, and federal, state, and local public safety agencies, broadcasters’ provision of ATSC 3.0 can play a major role in realizing the national aspiration for a robust, modern, emergency communications system for the mobile, connected America of the 21st Century.

Specifically, ATSC 3.0 alerting has the potential to become a backbone of the IPAWS interoperable “network of networks.” In the years ahead, because of ATSC 3.0, broadcast television will reach millions of viewers on tablets and smartphones as well as living room TV sets. Today’s proven Mobile EAS technology can be the foundation for a new era for public alerting to a wide range of fixed and mobile consumer devices.

We Urge the Subcommittee to Examine Holistic Solutions for Emergency Communications

As the discussion about public safety and the IP transition of the carriers from the current PTSN to a hybrid fiber/fixed-wireless moves forward, we urge active consideration of a holistic approach that includes Mobile TV (including M-EAS) as available now, as well as what broadcasters envision for the emerging ATSC 3.0 standard. M-EAS and its evolution into ATSC 3.0 cannot solve all of the public safety requirements of the all-IP telecom systems of the future, but it can provide a reliable, secure pathway for citizens anywhere to access critical information when they need it most.

For a general overview, please visit www.MobileEAS.org.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the following members of the M-EAS Coalition:

John I. Taylor
Vice President, Government Relations LG Electronics USA

1776 K Street NW Washington, DC 20006 [email protected]

Sam Matheny
Vice President, Policy & Innovation Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc. 2619 Western Blvd.
Raleigh, NC 27606 [email protected]

John Lawson (Primary Contact) President
Convergence Services, Inc. 7125 Park Terrace Drive Alexandria, VA 22307

o (703) 347-7070
m (703) 347-7070 [email protected]

J. Sandhi Kozsuch
Senior Director
Cox Media Group
6205 Peachtree Dunwoody Road Atlanta GA 30328 [email protected]

Mark O’Brien
Executive Vice President SpectraRep
15120 Enterprise Court Chantilly, VA 22066 [email protected]

Richard Chernock, PhD
Chief Science Officer
Triveni Digital 40 Washington Road Princeton Junction, NJ 08550 [email protected]

Bonnie Beeman
CEO and Founder
Wearable Xlabs
9628 123rd Ave SE
Renton, WA 98056 [email protected]

Statement In Support Of HR 3300: The FEMA Reauthorization Act Of 2013

Statement In Support of HR 3300: The FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2013

PDF_Download

Download a PDF of this Information

Statement on Behalf of

The Mobile Emergency Alert System (M-EAS)
By John M. Lawson, Senior Advisor to M-EAS

Submitted to the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management

In Support of HR 3300: The FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2013 October 31, 2013

On behalf of the developers of the Mobile Emergency Alert System, we are submitting this statement regarding HR 3300, the FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2013. We strongly support the continued development of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), and we applaud the provisions in HR 3300 for establishing requirements that address the remaining gaps and vulnerabilities of the system. We respectfully request your careful consideration of the capabilities offered by the Mobile Emergency Alert System in achieving our common goal of modernizing IPAWS.

What is Mobile EAS?

The Mobile Emergency Alert System (Mobile EAS or M-EAS) is a next-generation, dual use, public alert and warning system for a mobile, 21st Century America. M-EAS utilizes the backbone of the nation’s existing television broadcasting infrastructure and the new technology of Mobile DTV. By using terrestrial broadcasting, M-EAS can deliver rich media content to an unlimited number of mobile phones or other devices without overloading the network. This means high reliability and mass, instantaneous distribution, which is especially crucial in emergency events when cellular networks may be unavailable.

M-EAS was developed by LG Electronics and its Zenith R&D Lab, PBS, Harris Broadcast, and Roundbox. M-EAS is built to the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) and is designed for seamless incorporation into the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System. The collaborative M-EAS developers conducted a successful pilot project with three public television stations and a commercial station in different regions of the country. The commercial station, WRAL (owned by Capitol Broadcasting Corporation in Raleigh, NC), is the first to move to actual M-EAS deployment and has a memorandum of agreement in place with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to receive and distribute IPAWS alerts.

M-EAS is delivered through a relatively new service from the nation’s broadcasters, called Mobile DTV or MDTV. MDTV requires no additional spectrum, but does require special encoding equipment at television stations, as well as MDTV receivers in mobile phones or tablets. Currently, over 150 U.S. television stations are broadcasting television programming using MDTV. As broadcasters nationwide opt to deploy MDTV along with their regular broadcast services, M-EAS capability can be added with a relatively small incremental increase in cost.

Alerting for a Mobile America

Alerts from the legacy, Cold War-era Emergency Alert System (EAS) remain a vital source of emergency information. However, the video alerts can only be sent to fixed receivers, i.e., television sets. Unlike legacy EAS alerts, Mobile EAS alerts are delivered to cellphone and tablet devices via Mobile DTV transmission. The M-EAS alerts are displayed along with the programming, and offer a warning sound accompanied by a banner at the bottom of the screen that gives text information of the alert. A voice-over delivering the same warning information as the banner text is also received.

With an M-EAS alert, users are given the option to “click-through” for further rich- media information pertaining specifically to that alert. This rich-media information could include video, radar images and evacuation maps; local news and weather coverage; text information of what to do in a given emergency; photographic or pictorial information of what to do in a given emergency; shelter location information and more. All of these additional information assets are sent as files via the broadcast signal, a one-to-many application that is not susceptible to overload.

Accessible Alerts and the Affected Population

The unique architecture of M-EAS means that it can offer a multitude of rich-media content. These rich-media alerts can therefore be “versioned” for people with disabilities, access or functional needs, as well as non-English speakers. Built into the device specifications is the ability to “wake up” a device (from sleep mode) to notify users by sound, vibration and light of an emergency that could affect them. Text-to-speech and simultaneous translation can be added to the functionality as well. Section 102(b) of HR 3300 requires that the alert system include some of these functions, and M-EAS capabilities are consistent with this requirement.

Because of E911 requirements, cellphones have built-in location awareness. By utilizing the location awareness of the device itself, and with alert originators sending geo-specific polygons in their CAP messages, M-EAS is able to ensure that the alert is only activated on devices in the geo-targeted region, consistent with the geographic location goal specified in section 102(b) of HR 3300. This means that people who are not in harm’s way are not being disturbed. This granular geo- targeting can help prevent “alert burn-out,” which can make people less likely to respond with the appropriate caution to other more imminent threats.

Future Technologies

Along with 150 or more television stations broadcasting a Mobile DTV signal (and thus positioned to adopt M-EAS capabilities), products that enable consumers to receive Mobile DTV are becoming commercially available. Many are offered in association with Dyle TV, the major broadcaster venture that is transmitting MDTV programming. Recent product announcements include:

  • AudioVox launched a Dyle wireless Mobile DTV receiver for iOS and Android devices in October 2013. It receives MDTV programming off-air and retransmits it on a Wi-Fi channel.
  • RCA launched an eight-inch Mobile TV tablet (October 2013), which also is compatible with Dyle.
  • Elgato offers an adapter for iPhones and iPads for the reception of MDTV, and has added the software to receive the banner portion of the M-EAS alert.
  • In partnership with Dyle and MetroPCS, Samsung last year released a cellphone with built-in MDTV.A cross-section of industries has come together to further the development of M- EAS under the banner of the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), the technical standards setting organization for digital television for North America and other regions. ATSC adopted the M-EAS technical standard, an extension of the Mobile DTV standard, in March 2013. The ATSC M-EAS Implementation Team (M- EAS ITeam) provides a venue for industry discussions of issues related to the successful roll-out of M-EAS, as well as Mobile DTV in general.As awareness of M-EAS grows, so too will demand for the service it provides. We expect that this will help drive adoption among device manufacturers to include MDTV and M-EAS in cellphones and tablets as a standard feature. Enabling M-EAS requires a relatively simple firmware update to MDTV-enabled devices.Resilient and Secure Superstorm Sandy brought down 25% of cellular capacity in the whole ten-state region affected by the storm, according to FCC data.(1) Press reports indicated that the impact was even greater in the Tri-State area. Cell towers that were not physically disrupted became inoperable when the electric grid went down. Even cell towers that were intact and had back up power soon ran out of generator fuel. The wireless capacity that remained operable was soon overloaded with people trying to use it.

Nearly all broadcast facilities, however, have back up power with reserves of fuel for generators. Unlike the cell towers, nearly all television and FM radio broadcast transmitters stayed on the air before, during, and after Sandy struck, regardless of whether their grid power supply was functional or not.(2)

As M-EAS utilizes the broadcast infrastructure, it reaps the benefits of this “hardened” system. Because cellphone and tablet devices can be recharged in cars, M-EAS can be classified as non-grid dependent from transmission to reception. This offers flexibility and resilience in emergency alerting that other alerting avenues are unable to provide. Again, the requirement in section 102(b) that the alert system be resilient and secure is very compatible with M-EAS functionality.

Redundant Mechanisms

There are currently over 327 million cellphones in use in the USA and over 103 million tablet devices. The majority of these devices are connected to the Internet via 3G, 4G, LTE or WIFI, or a combination thereof. Wireless broadband has a hugely important role in emergency communications, but dependence on wireless broadband also brings vulnerabilities.

Currently, cellphones users are alerted to extreme weather conditions and AMBER alerts using the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system. WEA’s are 90-character text messages that give vital information regarding an impending threat. WEA alerts save lives, as Damon Penn of FEMA referenced in his written testimony to the subcommittee earlier this month. WEA’s were established as a voluntary service by wireless carriers under the Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act of 2006.

WEA’s are an important addition to the nation’s alerting toolbox. As president and CEO of the Association of Public Television Stations from 2001 to 2008, I testified before the Senate and House Commerce Committees in support of the WARN Act, and I served on the Commercial Mobile Service Alert Advisory Committee established by the Act. Like many others, I applaud Congress, the FCC, and the System, which generates WEA’s.

1 FCC says Hurricane Sandy knocked out 25 percent of cell towers in its path, The Hill, October 30, 2012
 2 NYC TV Broadcasters Stay On-Air During Sandy, TV Technology, November 11, 2012

However, WEA’s have serious shortcomings that limit their effectiveness. Their maximum length, 90 characters, is shorter than a tweet. This dramatically limits the amount and nature of the emergency information that they provide to end-users and makes WEA’s particularly challenging for people with certain disabilities. Their geo-targeting, currently, is only provided down to the county level, which can mean that many people receive alerts that do not directly affect them.

In many emergency situations, the cellphone networks become overloaded with people searching for additional information or trying to reach loved ones. The Boston bombings are the latest example of this communications vulnerability. Cellular networks are also subject to physical damage and power interruptions, as was the case during and after Superstorm Sandy and the Moore, OK tornados.

In these situations, a cellphone or tablet—while still functional—is not connected to an information source. This is where M-EAS provides a redundant pathway. By keeping the cellphone connected to the broadcast stream, M-EAS can provide current information and alerts to an unlimited number of people in the broadcast area simultaneously. As more people are able to turn to this information source during an emergency event, it will conceivably reserve available cellular spectrum for voice and text communication, which will in turn, allow people to communicate with loved ones and first responders. M-EAS can help to advance the redundancy element specified in section 102(b)(3) of HR 3300.

Public-Private Partnerships

Public alert and warning through television and radio broadcasters represents a strong and continuing model of public-private partnerships. The legacy EAS has its roots in the earliest days of the Cold War, a partnership between the Presidency and broadcasters to warn the nation in the event of an imminent nuclear attack. Fortunately, that system has never been used for its original purpose.

The same system, however, has been used voluntarily for many decades in partnerships between local broadcasters, Warning Coordination Meteorologists at the National Weather Service, and state and local law enforcement, fire fighters, and emergency managers. Mobile EAS extends this long tradition of cooperation and public service and updates it for the way Americans live and work today.

Advisory Committee

We support provisions in HR 3300 for the establishment by FEMA of the IPAWS Advisory Committee. Members of the M-EAS development team have served on numerous federal advisory committees and will offer our strong support to the IPAWS Advisory Committee. We applaud the broad approach to membership that the bill requires.

We would note that an earlier advisory committee established by the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also examined certain alerting issues and future technologies. Mobile EAS was acknowledged in the Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council III (CSRIC III) Final Report to the FCC. Submitted by Working Group 2, the Final Report included the following recommendations:

  • The FCC should encourage the use of open-source software components to facilitate the implementation of alerting, including Mobile EAS alerts, for broadband devices. The FCC should also consider offering incentives for device manufactures to implement the alerting voluntarily. (3)
  • The FCC should revive CMSAAC [Commercial Mobile Service Alert Advisory Committee] to provide recommendations for the next version of CMAS [Commercial Mobile Alert System], taking into consideration the recent advances in mobile devices (i.e., the advent of smartphones), as well as cellular networks (i.e., the ongoing migration to 4G networks) and Mobile EAS (CAP alerts delivered to mobile devices over Mobile DTV broadcasting). (4)M-EAS and IPAWSThere is no single solution to addressing the public alert and warning needs of the nation. IPAWS, as it currently functions, calls upon multiple communication resources in order to reach the largest portion of the affected population. This is as it should be. M-EAS is a powerful upgrade to this network of networks that offers an additional robust, resilient, redundant communication avenue to complement the existing system, filling the gaps where they exist. M-EAS helps make a good system great. We urge the Subcommittee to ensure that HR 3300 encourages the deployment of this important alerting technology.
    3 CSRIC III WG2 Final Report, 19th February 2013. Page 52, section 7.4 – Device Manufacturers
     4 CSRIC III WG2 Final Report, 19th February 2013. Page 55, section 7.8 – Future Alert Dissemination Technologies
AWARN Advisory Council