Gettin’ ready for Vegas
Are you going to the IWCE show in Las Vegas? I am. I always do. There’s something about going to a show that isn’t sponsored by a trade association, pushing its own agenda, that I like. Okay, there still will be a lot of association types, hawking their groups’ priorities, but at least the whole show isn’t devoted to how “God-awful wonderful” their group might be.
IWCE is the one show that provides you with a true cross section of the land mobile industry: trunking, paging, simplex, cellular, PCS and more. There’s a little bit of everything at the show. Everyone’s invited. Nobody’s made to feel unwelcome, and the variety of attendees, exhibitors and speakers makes it a worthwhile show for everyone. (It may be the only show left where the attendees vastly outnumber the exhibitors.)
For example, if you think that AMTA* is the real deal, you can hook up with Alan Shark and see what he and his dual groups AMTA/IMTA are doing about making trunking a household word-like succotash. If it uses a common controller, Shark’s all over it. Lately, AMTA’s been trying to get a better deal for th e 220MHz-222MHz auction. It may not get him the decision he wants, but it sure puts Shark’s mug in the trade publications.
Some PCIA* guys also will be hanging around, asking you what the heck you’re doing talking to Alan Shark. Lately, a “kinder and gentler” PCIA has been speaking about the “disenfranchised small operator.” Seems they’ve dropped their emphasis on providing an “exit strategy” for small businesses and are beginning to renew their once-waning commitment to local operators. I guess their earlier advice just wasn’t heeded-or needed.
Harold O’Dell and Walter Gallinghouse will be working the rooms on behalf of SMR Won*. After being in stasis for a time with the now-defunct “consensus proposal,” the group is swinging hard against the 800MHz auction in the U.S. Court of Appeals. Walter always said that if the FCC didn’t adopt the compromise, SMR Won would head to the court.
I like a man of his word. In our industry, they’re too rare.
Mark Crosby of ITA* usually drops by in all of his sartorial splendor. I like Mark. He is committed to his organization and is moving his group’s agenda as far as possible before Congress and the FCC. He’s smart, funny and edgy. I guess my only hesitation is that I’ve never witnessed ITA going to the mat for anything. Seems like ITA is loud and proud, then falls just short of drawing the line when compromise doesn’t seem to be an option. (Maybe Mark’s just wiser than I am.)
There usually are a few APCO* guys around. They’re the ones that are really listening at all the technical sessions and ducking out of the more political stuff. It must be nice to be the fair-haired damsels of Congress, with spectrum to burn. But then again, public safety usually shows up at the tables with a budget too small to gamble recklessly.
Lonnie Danchik will be making the rounds for SBT*, extolling members with the group’s commitment to small business. It’s tough stuff organizing small businesses into a cohesive unit with increasing political power. Lonnie tells me that he’s so busy loading ex-Nextel customers onto his system that he’s barely got time to sleep. If you catch him snoozing, nudge him.
If you get a chance, look up Bob Cook of Fresno Mobile Radio. His company is the lead appellant in the 800MHz auction appeal before the court. He’s a smart businessman and a heck of a nice guy. His wife, Peggy, is fun too, if you get her away from the slot machines. Bob’s quietly committed to the idea that nobody ever won by tossing in the towel. If you knew his dad Don, you’d understand that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
If you want the straight skinny on 220MHz systems from one of the premier operators, look up Bob Fay of Police Emergency Radio Systems. Fay is going great guns, planning to take over the world of 220MHz, one FCC decision at a time. He is savvy about his product and his chances.
Looking to find out what’s going on in towers? Drop by Jim Fryer’s booth and have a chat. If it’s going up, coming down, being sold or being bought, Jim knows about it. Jim can help any tower owner or manager improve business. (Also, his assistant, Mary, does a heck of a rendition of “These Boots Were Made for Walking.”)
Look for guys from UTC* and FIT* emerging from the shadows. They’re usually there taking in the sights and opinions from the operators that fill the floor. These groups, like so many, come to IWCE to feel the pulse of the industry and find out what’s working and what isn’t.
Don’t forget to talk to Don Bishop and Dave Keckler from the MRT staff. This deadpan duo will corner you into a discussion about the direction the industry is headed. They really want an answer, too; it seems “to Hell in a handbasket” just doesn’t satisfy everyone. (Anyway, MRT publisher Mercy Contreras always looks a little piqued when I cuss around her.)
Slithering around the place will be lawyers like yours truly. We get to pontificate and provide great insights into the vast abyss we call the FCC. Look for the usual suspects: Russell Fox, Curt Brown, Marjorie Connor, Liz Sachs, Kate Kaercher and Alan Tillis. We’d all like to shake your hand (in a race to see which one gets your watch).
Then there are the parties. Free booze and free food-if you listen to your host for an hour or so. This year it’s SBT, Trident Micro Systems, Transcrypt/E.F. Johnson and Kenwood Communications all having get-togethers.
If you’re an “issues” guy instead of a gamble-and-get-blasted type, there’s plenty to go around: the emergence of Flex paging, tower-siting issues, incumbent operator rights, the intentions of the new commissioners, electronic filing, auction software issues, global trunking, the 800MHz auction appeal, 450MHz trunking, utility companies’ entrance into the commercial radio market, the Telecommunications Development Fund (which may now be ready for business), reseller rights and more. And for your special entertainment value, you can actually speak with the people who work for the FCC and Congress.
Oh, yes … if you want to discuss cocktail waitresses, whether to hit a soft 14 when the dealer’s showing a 10, how many yards you can get from an 8-iron, the emerging questions about Siegfried and Roy, blended vs. unblended scotch and St. Louis Cardinal baseball … … I’ll be there, too.
Schwaninger, MRT’s regulatory consultant, is a partner in the law firm of Brown & Schwaninger, Washington, DC. He is a member of the Radio Club of America.