Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Regarding the June 27 op-ed "Earmarked Airwaves?" by Robert Hahn and Hal Singer:
Frontline Wireless has proposed that the Federal Communications Commission adopt a market-based way to build, at no cost to the taxpayer, a national wireless broadband network for first responders to use.
Then, when we are faced with natural or unnatural calamity, our firefighters and police will be able to communicate with one another, saving lives and catching evildoers. This same new network would also cure the situation described by one wireless executive in a recent New York Times article in connection with the iPhone's worrisome speed of service: "[T]here's not a 3G network available in Ottumwa, Iowa."
Verizon opposes the Frontline plan, saying that if Americans want a public safety network, Congress should appropriate tens of billions of dollars for it, and that the problem of low-speed, closed-access and sporadic wireless broadband doesn't really exist.
Frontline wants the Frontline and Verizon plans for a national public safety/open-access network debated by their respective chief executives in front of the FCC commissioners and the American public. Then the FCC can choose the best plan. Both firefighters and people in Ottumwa deserve a public hearing.
Instead, Verizon uses surrogates to attack Frontline's plan with misleading claims such as those made in The Post by Mr. Hahn and Mr. Singer. America's battle against terrorism and its fight for innovation leadership are too important to be left in the darkness of Washington word games.
The writer was chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 1993 to 1997.