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U.S. Department of Commerce Awards Funds to Upgrade First-Responder Tech — The Pittman Report

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded $38.5 million to 33 research and development (R

via U.S. Department of Commerce Awards Funds to Upgrade First-Responder Tech — The Pittman Report

Communications Catastrophe

Today officially marks my first day contributing to the many opinions regarding a topic dear to my heart. After a career working behind the scenes developing policy approaches to emergency communications issue I feel compelled finally to comment on what might be considered the holy grail of emergency communications blunders.

If you are in this area of specialization, you cannot help but feel sorry for the National attempt by FirstNet to role out a nationwide broadband communications platform. Somewhat unwisely it appears, the US after 15 years of foot-dragging finally has a plan to address one of the more serious concerns mentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report.

Having dealt with this issue in Europe and then again in the US, I have watched casually as the pundits have supported the removal of competition for this effort and then embarassingly doubled down on their mistake by choosing AT&T as the sole-source selectee.

One only need ask themselves, “why would it take so long?” and “what possibly could AT&T bring to this party over other more capable suitors? Well after nothing short of a kangaroo court decision and 15 years of bureaucratic incompetence, I have discovered nothing special is the answer to the latter and the former is already self-evident.

In order to overcome their own mistakes, AT&T and FirstNet sponsored an event last week in Dallas that several dear friends in the industry attended and the story I heard is very different from the yarn being spun by media proxies. They say AT&T flooded the zone and had the state people outnumbered 3 to 1. Also overheard was one AT&T sales rep asking a colleague about how to explain worse coverage in some states – sell them on the apps. Really? How much do the states get to pay for this reduced coverage?

They said it was like a big propaganda event, trying to brain-wash the states into opting-in. I don’t understand why some states would ever move to this network when Verizon gives them what they need already and neither has any particular technology enhancements that could even marginally be construed as leading edge. “Fear not”, I tell myself as I watch billions of taxpayer dollars going down the drain, since so many Government technology initiatives fail, I will more than likely see this careen off a cliff as well. May be then we will get something state of the art, and not in a state of confusion.