Best known as the co-founder of Nextel Communications, Morgan O’Brien is returning to the push-to-talk dispatch arena with Pacific DataVision, which recently purchased about 6 MHz of nationwide spectrum in the 900 MHz band from Sprint. Pacific DataVision initially plans to deploy two-way radio networks with Motorola Solutions’ digital radio technology to provide enhanced push-to-talk capability for enterprises, particularly critical-infrastructure customers such as utilities.

In addition, Pacific DataVision and others in the 900 MHz band will petition the FCC to allow the deployment of broadband services on a 3x3 MHz swath of spectrum in markets where customer demand exists, according to O’Brien. Recently, O’Brien spoke with IWCE’s Urgent Communications Editor Donny Jackson about the company’s approach to the marketplace and potential opportunities for dealers, particularly those authorized to sell Motorola Solutions products.


How will Pacific DataVision’s approach to selling services differ from the model used with Nextel Communications?

“With Nextel, we built a network and created a sales force. We went out into the marketplace, and our sales force—for the most part—sold Nextel. We’re not proposing to do that here. We’re proposing almost exclusively to work through existing dealers in an indirect method of distribution.

“We’ll have a little bit of a sales team, but it’s really sales support. We’re hoping to work with local dealers in all of these markets to load the systems.”


What are some of the attributes of this Pacific DataVision venture that you believe will be appealing to radio dealers?

“Depending on what market you’re in, we may be deploying soon in the market and looking for dealers to help us load [our system], and we’re going to have a very aggressive compensation plan. In some markets, it’s kind of obvious. If you are a dealer in that market, we’ll be knocking on your door, hoping that you’ll be willing to sell on our network, and we’ll compensate you for doing so.

“In other places, there may be dealers that are strong enough that they would like to make a deal with us to deploy using their capital and our spectrum, and we’d be open to that. We have a nationwide spectrum position starting on Day 1, but we’re not planning to go into every market. So, there may be markets that have good dealers that would like to be selling this product but don’t have the spectrum, and we could make a deal.

“Over time, on the assumption that the FCC grants our petition, we’ll be also looking for opportunities and relationships to try to put broadband products out there into the marketplace. We’re hoping to be thought of as just a new selling opportunity for these [dealers].”


If the FCC grants permission for Pacific DataVision to transition this LMR spectrum to a broadband technology, does the company plan to pursue broadband nationwide?

“Six megahertz—3x3 [MHz]—is terrific, particularly when it’s compared to nothing. But it’s not enough on which anybody could establish a new nationwide broadband carrier. It’s just not enough spectrum. Your competitors are way too far out in front and have too much spectrum, and this is an economy-of-scale business.

“So, our intention is to restrict ourselves to building broadband facilities only where we have a customer—particularly a large customer—ready to pay for it and ready to use it. We call this kind of a build-to-suit model.”