Can’t anyone get along?
If I had to identify an overarching theme of this issue of MRT, it would be cooperation, or more accurately, the lack of cooperation that seems to afflict the mobile radio industry on several levels. One example concerns Nextel and Verizon Wireless, which are at it again regarding the FCC’s 800 MHz reband order (see story on page 12).
Nextel has questioned the FCC’s formula used to assign value to the spectrum it will cede to public safety as a result of the order, which is its right. Verizon, in a letter to the commission, has characterized the talks as inappropriate, post-order negotiations. Some in public safety have said that Verizon is engaging in sour-grapes behavior and will stop at nothing to blow up the order. Some analysts characterize Verizon’s latest tactic as simply a continuation of the hardball tactics the carrier has exhibited throughout the proceeding.
But it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Verizon would be pulling out all the stops. It is a large commercial entity that has a lot at stake in this proceeding.
The theme continues in Lynnette Luna’s story on ultrawideband technology that anchors this issue’s special report on spectrum (starting on page 44). As Luna reports, the commercialization of ultrawideband is being slowed by standards battles. This also shouldn’t surprise anyone. The companies working to develop these standards are commercial entities — some of them very large entities — that want to ensure their propriety solutions are well represented in the standards, if not the core of the standard. They, too, have a lot at stake.
Finally, the theme plays out once more in this edition’s cover story on data interoperability, which is in a nascent stage (see page 38). As Donny Jackson reports, the ability to achieve data interoperability will depend largely on public-safety agencies nationwide agreeing on a common computer language — and finding the funding to execute the vision. Apparently, this isn’t something that will come easy. And that is surprising.
During the 800 MHz proceeding, we heard ad infinitum about the critical need to solve the interference problems that plague the band because first responder lives are at risk. Interoperable data communications would give public-safety agencies the ability to share information that would make first responders more effective and safer. If policymakers and public-safety officials truly have the best interests of first responders at heart — as they seemed to in the 800 MHz proceeding — they will check their egos at the door, put their differences aside and get on the same page regarding funding and a common language, so data interoperability can evolve sooner rather than later.