Powell succeeds Kennard as FCC chairman
After overseeing three of the most explosive years in the history of the communications industry, Chairman William E. Kennard resigned from the Federal Communications Commission, effective Jan. 19, 2001.
Kennard, whose term would have ended June 30, 2001, served a three-year term that began and ended with historic events. He was welcomed into the position with the responsibility of continuing implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and he leaves the position after approving the $106 billion AOL-Time Warner merger.
In a letter to President Clinton, Kennard expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve as chairman.
“I feel very privileged that I was able to serve as chairman of the FCC at a time when communications technologies are so dramatically changing the way the American people live, work and learn,” he wrote.
According to an FCC release, Kennard will serve as a senior fellow of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program in Washington for the next few months. He will be responsible for advising on leadership, communications policy and program activities and operations.
FCC Commissioner Michael K. Powell, an advocate of free markets and competition, has been designated by President George W. Bush to succeed Kennard as chairman of the commission. Kennard’s departure and Powell’s advancement leave a commissioner position open, which Bush will most likely fill with a Republican.
Shortly after Powell was named chairman, Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth announced that he would not seek reappointment to a second term, leaving yet another Republican commissioner seat to be filled. His first term expired June 30, 2000, but he continued to serve pursuant to federal law that allows a commissioner to remain in office for as many as 18 months after the term expires or until a successor is named.
In a statement released Jan. 31, 2001, Furchtgott-Roth said he would continue to serve until a “mutually agreeable departure date is worked out with the administration.”
Powell was nominated to membership on the commission by President Clinton in August 1997, and he has served as the FCC’s defense commissioner, coordinating communications issues affecting national security emergency preparedness. He headed up the FCC’s Y2K Task Force in 1999.
Early industry response to the appointment has been favorable, including approvals from Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association President Tom Wheeler and Personal Communications Industry Association President Jay Kitchen.
“He knows the issues, he knows the new competitive marketplace, he knows how to lead,” Wheeler said.
Kitchen remarked that “As a commissioner, [Powell] has supported an open marketplace free of burdensome regulations that will ultimately benefit consumers through increased competition and access to products and services.”
For commentaries on Powell’s succession, see “In the Public Interest” on page 10 and “Making Waves” on page 8.
Com-Net celebrates one-year anniversary
For football fans, the Super Bowl represents the biggest sporting event of the year. For Com-Net Ericsson Critical Radio Systems, Lynchburg, VA, it played a large part in the company’s first-year anniversary celebration.
One year after Com-Net Critical Communications, Pittsburgh, acquired the private radio systems unit of Ericsson, Stockholm, Sweden, on Jan. 26, the fledgling company marked the anniversary by announcing that law enforcement agencies at Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa, FL, would be using Com-Net Ericsson radios for security.
“While this first-year anniversary is certainly a significant day for us, it is also a reminder of all the people — customers, employees, and this community — who made this milestone possible,” said Steve Savor, Com-Net’s chief executive officer. “We are proud of our achievements and excited about the foundation they provide for future growth and service to the people of Lynchburg.”
It has been an eventful year for the new company. Com-Net recently agreed to complete Florida’s statewide public safety communications system, which the state will lease back from Com-Net. The two sides reached the agreement after the state decided to end its system build-out contract with Motorola.
TX RX Systems signs contract with NYC
TX RX Systems, Angola, NY, won a contract worth more than $15 million to upgrade the communications equipment in New York City’s subway system. The contract was awarded by E.A. Technologies/Petrocelli, a New York City systems integrator selected as the prime contractor for the project by the NYC Transit Authority.
The project will take place in two phases over the next five years, and it will connect police and fire communications radios to the underground subway stations and 443 miles of connecting tunnels.
Marketronics to distribute Securicor products in Latin America
Securicor Wireless, New York, entered into a sales and distribution agreement to expand its U.S. network to Latin America through Florida-based Marketronics.
Marketronics has established a foothold in the Latin American market with offices in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Santiago, Chile and Mexico City.
Using Marketronics’ dealer network, the joint effort will actively promote and distribute Securicor’s full range of integrated, spectrum-efficient voice and data services and applications throughout the region.
“This partnership represents a significant milestone in expanding our company’s footprint in Mexico and Latin America,” said Robert J. Shiver, chairman of Securicor. “We could not have a more experienced, better-positioned partner for marketing our patented technology, systems and products to emerging wireless operators throughout this part of the world.”
Marketronics general manager Francisco Noyola said, “The huge Latin American wireless market is just beginning to gather steam. We also believe we have selected the ideal partner in terms of product, systems and technology.”
Spectrum auction ends, earns $16.9 billion for taxpayers
The Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association applauded the results of the FCC’s re-auction of spectrum purchased by Nextwave, Hawthorne, NY, in 1995. The auction raised $16.9 billion.
“This is a $16 billion victory for taxpayers,” said Tom Wheeler, president of CTIA. “We must thank Senator Judd Gregg and [FCC] Chairman Kennard for standing up to the special interests, ensuring that the licenses were auctioned and that tax payers received market value for their asset.”
Nextwave had originally purchased the spectrum through auction in 1995 for $4.7 billion. After making a $500 million down payment, however, the company filed for bankruptcy. Last year, Nextwave and its creditors spent more than $1 million lobbying Congress and the FCC for a sweetheart deal, at one point offering $5.3 billion for the licenses. Congress and the commission denied the request and insisted that the licenses be put up for re-auction.
“This most recent auction demonstrated the value of spectrum in a spectrum-starved market,” Wheeler said. “We need to lift the spectrum cap and provide more spectrum for 3G development. Today, we risk falling behind the rest of the world in the race for the new, new thing — the wireless Internet. Europe and Japan have each set aside up to twice the amount of spectrum as the United States for 3G technology and other wireless services.”
VisionAir teams with Texas law enforcement
VisionAir, Wilmington, NC, signed a contract with the city of Grapevine, TX, to provide several of the company’s software applications to Grapevine’s public safety agencies.
The company’s public safety suite of products includes Visioncad, Visionrms and Visionmobile.
In addition to Visionmobile and Inform, the new software system will provide agency employees with the ability to dispatch units from multiple departments and to submit incidents and arrest reports directly to the FBI or state crime information centers.
Illinois governor George H. Ryan announced the state’s FIRST Program will provide $25 million for a new statewide police radio communications system to improve public safety. The FIRST grant to the Illinois state police will purchase new radio equipment that includes the Starcom21 wireless state radio system. The state will lease time on the new network to be constructed by Motorola, the vendor selected after a competitive bid.
The Kankakee County Emergency Telephone System Board met Dec. 27, 2000, and signed a contract with Motorola to install a new county-wide area radio network. The new $3.7 million system will establish a linked emergency radio system linking all police, fire, ambulance and other emergency providers throughout Kankakee County.
Sigem, Kanata, Canada, agreed to a deal with St. Louis County Cab of St. Louis and the Diamond Taxicab Association of Toronto for full orders of its newest mobile data terminal product, Eping Emerald, and the latest version of its Eping Enterprise fleet management software. The system uses GPS technology to enable fleet managers to automatically dispatch the closest vehicle to the caller.
VisionAir, Wilmington, NC, signed an $815,000 contract with the Lewisville (TX) Police Department to supply the agency with Visioncad, Visionrms, Visionjail, Visionfire and Visionmobile software packages. The applications are part of the company’s WindowsNT-based public safety suite of products.
Northwood Technologies, Nepean, Ontario, and Siradel S.A. agreed to make their respective networking planning technologies interoperable. As a result, the Northwood Decibel Planner wireless network design software will be fully compatible with the Siradel Volcano propagation software.