A tribute to Gregg Miller
This past month, Gregg Miller, president of Racom in Marshalltown, Iowa — and an important figure in the land mobile industry — passed away.
You may not know Miller by name. But his impact on the industry has been significant. He was undoubtedly a visionary when it came to land mobile. In the early 1980s, Miller developed the first wide-area specialized mobile radio system. He convinced the Federal Communications Commission to waive rules so he could build what became an 80-plus site, trunked radio system covering six states, beginning with GE-MARC technology and eventually morphing into an EDACS system.
He was a pioneer. He showed a commercial system could be built to public-safety specifications and provide access, reliability and user control to create an interoperable public-safety communications network that also served the area’s utilities.
But Miller’s impact went beyond foreseeing the growth of wide-area 800 MHz radio systems. He selflessly dedicated his time and insight to many NABER committees. He also helped shape policy at the organization for many years. To be fair, there may have been occasions that his sage advice didn’t result in an association position consistent with his vision. However, I cannot think of when this actually happened. Most important, Miller never put himself first in those discussions. Rather, he always tried to do what was right for the industry, regardless of whether the position might have been the best one for Marshalltown.
I spent many hours on the telephone with Miller chatting and strategizing about the land mobile industry and its future. He understood the interference problems in the 800 MHz band, as his engineers were heavily involved in resolving the city of Denver’s Nextel and AT&T interference problems.
In fact, my intense involvement in rebanding was a direct result of a challenge from Miller. He knew that something had to be done. But he was so disheartened by the way the industry tore itself apart during the 800 MHz Upper 200 proceeding that he wanted to try to avoid this type of debacle in rebanding. He knew Nextel’s so-called white paper was horrible for the industry, and he wanted to find something between the harshness of the white paper and merely saying “no” to doing anything.
From this, Miller urged me to be proactive and get involved in negotiations to create some sort of compromise that resolved interference. He recognized there would not be sufficient funding to support that effort, but nevertheless believed I had to bite the bullet and take the financial hit. He believed it was my obligation to an industry that had treated me so well.
I’m aware that some attorneys have derided me for making that effort. But I wear it as a badge of honor. Miller and I continued to talk and strategize throughout the process, and I’m sorry he won’t be around to see its (hopefully successful) conclusion. I will miss his advice, insight and friendship.
Alan Tilles is counsel to numerous entities in the private radio and Internet industries. He is a partner in the law firm of Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.