Thursday, February 28, 2013

FirstNet and the Public Safety Broadband Network -- George Orwell's "omnipresent government surveillance" -- or is it?

What’s scary about the Public Safety Broadband Network is its tone of a government operated network. To me the connotations of an overreaching “big brother” always draws attention to the movie 1984 that portrays’ George Orwell’s[1] 1949 book.

“The Oceanian province of Airstrip One is a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public mind control, dictated by a political system euphemistically named English Socialism (Ingsoc) under the control of a privileged Inner Party elite that persecutes all individualism and independent thinking as thoughtcrimes.”[2]

In reality this is exactly why we need to build the Public Safety Broadband Network using Public Private Partnerships.

By adopting the PPP model, or P3 model, we instinctively are introducing the private element. That private element fosters a balanced and controlling elemental approach of an overarching solution that could be utilized to the benefit of the government and its citizen-bosses. If we don’t implement the P3 approach then in fact the network will be built and controlled by the government, thus fostering more resentment towards its intended, or unintended, results.

If we had a magic crystal ball, the future would most likely follow the traditional consolidation route. In fact the centralization of the commercial carrier space, and the consolidation towards all IP Networks, is helping to promote a new public utility – that being access to the Internet or an all connected society. Many would see this as an opportunity for the government to step in and take control. Given the nature of the consolidation and the centralization of the commercial space I see it more as the government is being invited into the space. But is it a bad thing?

We have commoditized access to power, water, highways and the airways. Why would commoditized access to the Internet be any different? Would it actually enhance our capability to provide “more” consistent access to the underserved areas of the nation? Plus, doesn’t it align the need to provide for our First Responders without the limitations of a commercial carrier subscription model of which is based on revenue from its users as the primary reason for its existence? Don’t get me wrong this doesn’t mean the commercial carrier business goes away -- by any means. In fact, this actually allows the commercial carriers to provide service to new rural areas that, before, were unreachable due to business modeling mismatch. It's not like the Federal Government, through the FCC, is not trying to accomplish this same task with the Universal Service Fund or the Connect America Plan. 

We have the chance to develop and implement a new utility architecture. Such a solution can help fill the void of broadband access in support of its sister utilities as well as commercial carrier service. Through the requirements to build the nations most reliable Public Safety Broadband Network, and directly built on the requirements of the Public’s safety, we are also fulfilling the needs of a hardened basic utility infrastructure, much like our power grid, where we can prioritize its use as a core interconnecting fabric of communications for the entire nation. As with the power grid it can penetrate every geographic aspect of the nation. It also can follow the same course of privatization, or not, in its implementation via State initiated Public Private Partnership. 

Just some guy and a blog….

[2] The Columbia Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition, Columbia University Press: 1993, p. 2030.

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