Monthly Archives: June 2017

1,945 Days and a Miracle Occurs

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.  A 1,945 day journey to a nationwide cellular network for first responders begins on a single day, February 22, 2012, when Congress passes the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, and comes to a waypoint on June 19, 2017.   On that first day, Congress created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).  On the last day, today, FirstNet published a definitive plan for each state detailing how the network will be deployed in that state.

Oh, you can quibble about the dates.  Perhaps the starting date should be in 1997 when the FCC set aside spectrum for use in creating a cellular network for public safety.   And you can argue that “delivery of a plan” is not deploying a network.

But I’m going to count February 22, 2012, as the starting date, because that’s when this network became possible, because Congress funded it and created an agency to make it happen.    And I’ll count June 19, 2017, as the ending date, because these “state plans” are much more than plans.   They are an “on” switch for FirstNet.

All a state Governor need do is “flip the switch” to “on” and immediately FirstNet becomes a reality in that state.

I always believed – since I became involved in this work in 2008 – that deploying a network with priority for first responders would take many years.  I thought it would be an arduous process of acquiring cell sites, putting antennas and electronics at those sites, stringing fiber optic cable between them, and then slowly, one-by-one, lighting up each site to put it on the air.  Just like the long, painful, process of deploying the first cellular networks in the 1980s.

But it isn’t.   Turning on FirstNet is as simple as a Governor signing a letter which says, “go do it”.

then-a-miracle-occurs-firstnetThe Governor doesn’t have to commit any funds or make any commitments.  No public safety agencies in a state have to use FirstNet – they are free to choose other networks.  But if those agencies want priority above all other users, if they want a dedicated help desk, a customized app store, end-to-end security and all the other benefits, they can sign up with AT&T and get it.

All it takes is a simple signature by a Governor, and a miracle occurs.

P.S.   To see the plan, go here.

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First Responder Field, Home of the Seattle Mariners

SAFECO Field

SAFECO Field

SAFECO Field has been the home of the Seattle Mariners’ Baseball Club since 1998, when SAFECO Insurance acquired the naming rights.   SAFECO is not planning to renew that 20 year naming agreement when it expires in 2018.

Major league stadiums carry the names of insurance companies, banks, financial institutions, airlines, ketchup companies, even a pet supply store (PETCO).   But none are named for law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical services, or the military.  These responders willingly place their own lives at risk – daily – to keep 340 million people in the United States safe from harm, both here at home and abroad in foreign nations.

Naming rights are not cheap.  SAFECO Insurance is probably paying $1.8 million a year to get its name on this Seattle stadium.  Citi Field in New York City may be the highest priced venue at $20 million a year.   See a complete list from ESPN here.

First Responders (from FirstNet.gov)We should have a First Responder Field to honor our daily heroes.   But the owners of SAFECO field shouldn’t have to forgo significant revenue to provide that honor – after all, the costs will probably be borne by those attending games in Seattle.

It would be a travesty to ask first responders themselves to pay for naming rights.   Perhaps we could do a Kickstarter campaign to pay for the rights.   Or maybe some of Seattle’s billionaires who own Starbucks, Amazon or Microsoft could kick in the dollars.

But it would be even better, more noble, if the owners of Major League Baseball teams, each of them billionaires, could each kick in a few bucks to compensate the owners of SAFECO Field who could then honor our cops and firefighters and paramedics who respond and save lives nationwide, every day.

What do you think?

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