Friday, May 17, 2013

FirstNet: Motorola sides with the commercial carriers over their Public Safety clients?

I understand the need to get on board first when a new potential lucrative market presents itself. But what I don’t get is going against your primary client base that has managed to get you to where you are today. I am referring to Motorola’s early move to strike an agreement with Verizon back in February 2011.

Essentially Motorola vowed to work with Verizon to build out the Public Safety Network using the Verizon network. Now this doesn’t seem like much, but consider who Motorola’s main clients are and consider the recent actions of the FirstNet Board. I am talking about the actions of 4 of the FirstNet Board members to create a commercial business plan with Verizon that would allow Verizon to build and control the Nations First Responder Broadband Network. If that is true then Verizon, who bid on the original D-Block spectrum auctions a few years back, would now be able to get control of the same spectrum for free. This may be against the will of the States who want to control their own spectrum and may not want the carriers to control anything within their borders. But I have blogged about that already.

What I find really interesting is Motorola’s move to side with Verizon over its primary client base of Public Safety. After all it was Chief Fitzgerald that stood up and put the FirstNet Board front and center on accusations that the four members of the FirstNet Board, that all happened to work for Vodafone at the same time (Vodafone owns 45% of Verizon) and the inclusion of a new GM who happens to come from Verizon, may bleed a hint of truth to the devious takeover plan.

Chief Fitzgerald represents the main connection to the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), which was put in place to represent the Public Safety Community in whole and of which this network is being built. Why would Motorola side with a commercial carrier over its primary source of revenue since its inception? I mean Motorola has about 98% of the Public Safety Radio market. A market that will not go away no matter what wireless technology presents itself. In actuality it will most likely grow with new and advanced handsets and radios. It may be just a little bit of bad judgment. In reality though all this decision does is isolate Motorola from the inevitable that the States have to control, monetize and build out their own spectrum solutions for broadband in support of Public Safety.

If you are a State, or the State’s representative to construct the entire statewide build out of Public Safety broadband, would you be able to trust a vendor who decided to side with the same commercial carrier who was plotting to take over the spectrum for Public Safety? What comes to mind is the “New Coke” market moves back in the 70’s…I bet Harris is just jumping for joy right now. With such a move by Motorola I’m sure it will insure a boost in Harris’ revenue goals with new clients. In reality though can you really trust an organization that sided with a commercial carrier who is seeking revenue over the social necessity to build a Pubic Safety Network? We must remember why we are building this network in the first place – 9-11 and the loss of 3000 lives to terrorism of which included hundreds of First Responders who lacked the ability to communicate.

Essentially Motorola needs to ask itself: what happens if the States Opt Out and decide to build their own solution? Usually when you make a decision you try and better your current position with forward momentum. I’m not sure this was such a move, thus brings to question what is Motorola thinking? Then again it could be a sign of desperation as well. Maybe the numbers are not as good as predicted? Or maybe they just want to get out of the Public Safety space? I don’t know, but if it were me I would have just stayed on the side and backed my client’s moves. 

Just some guy and a blog....

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