Thursday, June 5, 2014

FirstNet -- too much data is not healthy.... cut the fat and stop farming crap, I mean data.

If there is one thing that the Federal Government does better than the commercial carriers is the collection of information. You can get any kind of map demonstrating coverage based scenarios, to include the social impacts on manure haulers. Maybe we can create a map that demonstrates the broadband necessities of manure haulers in order to convey the amount of manure in transit; this could provide the local Police Chief with some much needed information so that he/she can be fully prepared for a full load of crap he has to take care of -- then I’m sure the fact that the Feds can go way “down into the grass to paint the pants on the ants” in data analytics, which by the way should bring comfort to the local citizens as to who will clean up all that crap, will be justified. No pun intended – or was it? Brings back bad memories of research and statistical analysis classes in school; those classes also produce a lot of manure to the point we were stumped on what, if any, decision we really needed to make.

The thing is, there isn’t a perfect answer, so stop looking for it in the way of more data. Lets just deal with the crap we already have -- sorry I meant manure...I mean data. One thing a Federal worker is good at is making work for work sake as a means to convince themselves that their job has meaning, we all do that, just the Feds do it much better. Nothing better than collecting a whole lot of data and not understanding why, or for what, is a way of life for them. In the commercial world we call that fat; fat was the enemy and we are always on a diet...still are. I think what's needed is a better understanding on how a commercial model for LTE is implemented. We don’t need to know how the technology works other than what we  can gain with more profitable services, or how much better their already installed base of assets can "fit so perfectly", what we need to understand, and accept, is the fact that we have to build a new infrastructure solely dedicated to the primary purpose of public safety; it just so happens that this new infrastructure may also be the supporting platform for even those same carries in the future.

I understand the need to collect information to start the process of building a business model, but you must execute your strategy based on a more realistic assumption that you can’t shotgun the entire bus barn and not expect to be covered in the manure from inside -- I mean data. We don’t need that much data to provide us with an appropriate model to move forward with. In fact, the more data collected, the more convoluted and undefinable the answer will be. For a commercial carrier its quite simple; you have a product (LTE), you need a user base to concentrate on (subscribers), number of subscribers dictate revenue (ARPU), you run a cost analysis on the capitla required and match it against your revenue (ROI); if the revenue allows you to outpace your cost to build, then you make the decision to go after the market. If you decide to go after the market, then you start your deep dive into the analytics for the purpose of refining your cost models. The key is to gather just enough data to make your first decision, there will be many. This is the decision process for building a business case in telecoms.

This decision process is a check-and-balance to insure we stay on track with our business model – in this case our ROI is greater than the capital needed to build and maintain. What happens if you don’t? What happens when you don’t have a business plan? Well we are front and center to what happens when you don’t have an agreed upon plan.

If you don’t address a simplistic view, your ROI will be askew to the point where you are simply paying more money to build and sustain than your revenue can account for. In collecting so much data you will also convolute your decision process. All we need is a small portion of the data to provide a rough order of magnitude so that we can get to the decision point; that decision point will be a refinement of our original business plan – in this case Option A (FirstNet carrier model), Option B (State Out-out), or Option C (FirstNet Opting In for a State implementation of the Myers Model™). In the end this is what the States want to see. Most States really do want to work with FirstNet, but, they also want FirstNet to do it on their terms and based on a business model that incorporates the monetization of the spectrum to capitalize on the State’s ability to fulfill its own self-sustainment requirement. This means a State wants FirstNet to play a part in the State’s Public Private Partnership rollout via their ownership control. Why? Because the States also realize that having FirstNet take an ownership position will allow for sustainability of the overall national network – beyond an individual State’s jurisdictional control.

After hearing about all the meetings, and seeing all the data being collected, I’m beginning to think that the contributors to the FirstNet cause are just doing work for works sake. Now don’t get me wrong there is some great work being done, but a majority may prove useless without a business plan to work against. The biggest elephant in the room is a business model, a business model that can create “self-sustainment”. What I’m afraid of is that FirstNet will get so far down the data collection road, based on information they didn’t need, and have committed to plans that never really considered because they don’t fully understand their own business needs, essentially useless data and watsed taxpayer money.....none the less with perfect timing just before an election cycle.

Once FirstNet actually starts to look at self-sustainment, then a true business plan will take shape. Thank goodness Chairwoman Swenson spoke about that need for self-sustainment in her speech at the PSCR conference. Don’t be afraid to go for 100% self-sustainment, or 100% coverage with truly hardened specifications. It doesn’t matter how much it costs, what matters is that we have a cyclical business model that will drive a balance between business needs, self-sustainment and quality assurance for all that partake.

But then again what do I know I’m….

Just some guy and a blog…..

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