Let’s be fair
In May 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark headed an expedition that embarked from St. Charles, Mo., in search of a passage to the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, the explorers encountered numerous travails and unexpected twists. For instance, a year or so into the trek, Lewis and another hunter were forced to kill a grizzly bear — a species that at the time reportedly was unknown to science. (Imagine running into something like that when you don't expect it.)
That wasn't all. In September 1805, the expedition nearly starved to death in the Bitterroot Mountains that straddle Montana and Idaho. Roughly eight months later, after successfully reaching the mouth of the Columbia River as it connects with the Pacific in Oregon, the expedition headed east, only to encounter the Bitterroots once more — where they had to camp for about two months, waiting for the snow to melt enough for them to safely cross.
I thought about the Lewis and Clark Expedition as I read senior writer Donny Jackson's article that analyzes why the reconfiguration of the 800 MHz airwaves is far behind schedule — and who's to blame. To be sure, there's plenty of blame to go around. But it is important that the finger-pointing be done within context. Just as no manual existed two centuries ago to guide Lewis and Clark on how to conduct a 2000-mile trek through incredibly hostile territory, the FCC, the Transition Administrator, Sprint Nextel, public safety and its various advisers have been forced to figure things out as they go along. And, like Lewis and Clark, they have encountered many unforeseen hurdles that have slowed their progress.
I imagine that reconfiguring the 800 MHz band has been something like rebuilding an engine without a repair manual. I couldn't do it. I'm guessing you couldn't either. Let's all keep that in mind as we contemplate the current state of rebanding with an eye toward the future. Lewis and Clark proved the adage “where there's a will, there's a way.” It might take longer than expected, but rebanding is going to get done. And when first responders finally are safe from harmful interference, I predict that what will be remembered is the remarkable achievement — and not the agonizing journey.