A couple of weeks ago in this space, Mary Rose Roberts wondered whether the time would someday come when the public-safety sector would decide that soon-to-be-available multiband radio would satisfy their future communications needs and that the proposed 700 MHz national broadband network is unnecessary.

The question was based on the knowledge that major public-safety communications initiatives tend to take a very long time to reach a conclusion — see rebanding. Given that, it is quite feasible that public safety one day will grow tired of waiting for this network to come to fruition. Indeed, the necessity — as well as its feasibility — has been questioned on one level or another ever since Morgan O’Brien first floated the idea more than four years ago.

It’s important to note, however, that those who question the merits of this network generally are content with their current data capabilities, perhaps because they are unaware at this point regarding what the futuristic network will provide in this area. I well understand this sort of thinking, so much so that I’d like to offer to those officials the following analogy.

I’ve been playing baseball in one form or the other for nearly a half century. And until recently, I was of the belief that a bat is a bat. In other words, if you can hit, you should be able to go up the plate with a table leg. And if you can’t hit, well, no amount of technology is going to help you.

I was wrong. I ultimately found out that there is a huge difference between a $100 softball bat and a $300 bat. Where I hit line drives with the former, I hit line drives that scream with the latter. Not only have I nearly decapitated several pitchers since acquiring my wonder stick, I have done the same to several middle infielders. I kid you not.

So, I have learned not to underestimate the power of technology. I think this revelation can be applied to the proposed 700 MHz broadband network, which will bring wondrous data capabilities that literally are going to have to be seen to be believed.

A couple of days ago, I spoke about this with Harlin McEwen, the chairman of the Public Safety Spectrum Trust who is working feverishly with numerous other movers and shakers to try to move the ball forward on this initiative. He told me that he recently addressed a meeting of fire chiefs who were aware of the proposed network, but didn’t fully grasp the depth of the initiative or, more importantly, its potential for spectacular new capabilities. Once he walked them through it, which included “answering a lot of great questions,” the chiefs’ attitudes changed. “Once they understood how it will benefit them, they were very supportive,” McEwen said. “I found that encouraging.”

Unfortunately, there are many, many chiefs and only so many hours in a day, something that frustrates McEwen.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have enough evangelical speakers out there,” he said.

The day may come when public safety — because it is frustrated, uninformed or both — washes its hands of this initiative. Should that happen, however, I believe public safety would be making a huge mistake that it would regret for decades to come.

What do you think? Tell us in the comment box below.