Quick Study

By Brian Robinson

Blog archive

U.S. first responder communications still a mess

Among all of the stories about Twitter and Facebook affecting the response to the Haiti earthquake, here’s a sobering reminder of how basic interoperable communications among first responders in the U.S. is still a myth, a problem that should have been sorted out a long time ago.

In an op-ed in The Hill retired Navy Rear Adm. Jamie Barnett points out that if a similar earthquake were to strike the United States, we’d be in a parlous situation. Decades after the fact was pointed out, and despite all of the public breast-beating that’s been spent on the issue, the U.S. is still without a public safety broadband wireless network.

And that’s even after the tragedies of the 2001 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina glaringly illustrated the disastrous consequences of the lack of such communications.

Representatives of America’s public safety officials recently visited Congress to push for more spectrum that could be used to create a national public safety network. Once again, however, they are up against commercial interests who are lobbying for public spectrum to be allocated to them to relieve them of the squeeze on their networks.

Barnett know whereof he speaks, by the way: He’s the Federal Communications Commission’s chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. The FCC has been conducting a series of broad-ranging hearings on how to improve U.S. broadband communications.

Posted by Brian Robinson on Jan 21, 2010 at 12:19 PM

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Mon, Jan 25, 2010

That's what you get when the vendors are in the driver seat. With the adoption of TETRA, we would have been years further along. Adding to the calamity, the cost of building out broadband vs. LMR infrastructure is prohibitive. It's not only the spectrum, it's the capacity that needs to be put on the ground, that would exceed one order of magnitude beyond an LMR buildout. Great again for the vendors to push equipment, assuming you can find someone to foot the bill.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group