We are now seeing national companies attempting to overcome their failed business models and seek government funding of unsustainable programs.
Some like the automakers, could realize substantial savings by disintermediating their outmoded distribution network of dealers which have been pampered and protected for years by politicians who were the recipients of substantial campaign funds. By compressing the dealership network into regional distribution centers and enabling “manufacturer-direct pricing, the consumer would benefit greatly. Present-day dealers, many of whom sit upon valuable real estate or who are closing their doors, could still act as repair stations – only this time around with more competitive repair pricing and faster services. The days of waiting a full day for a simple repair at a dealership should come to an end. The focus will be on customer service and benefit rather than a “take it or leave” it business model which features predatory practices every bit as onerous as those found in mortgage lending.
So why are we not surprised …
So why are we not surprised when Sprint attempts to sell their outmoded and failing “push to talk” technology and attempt to carve out a “gatekeeper” profit for processing Internet traffic.
At one point in time, I was a Nextel fan and thought that the walkie-talkie features of a handheld mobile phone were “peachy keen.” As time went on, the devices appeared to become less attractive and the service less reliable. Finally pushing us over the edge and discarding our Nextel units in favor of Verizon phones.
According to Reuters …
Sprint pitches $2 billion emergency network to Obama
“Sprint Nextel Corp., the third biggest U.S. wireless company, wants the government to fund a $2 billion emergency network to make first responders better able to communicate during disasters.”
This is an admirable goal: multi-service interoperability. However, considering the costs of the dispatching, networking and delivery of classified and specialized information via a patchwork of local, state and government systems, one would assume that there is much, much more to this goal than claiming an ability to provide a turn-key system.
For those who want to perform a common-sense reality check, consider what is about to happen during the upcoming inauguration. Some cellular service might be blocked as a precaution against remote detonated explosive devices. Not to mention the sheer number of people who might be trying to connect to others, perhaps to upload high-bandwidth phone-based pictures, video and sound files.
Without a major disaster implementation plan, of which communications is of the utmost concern – but not the only concern, one needs to consider the problems experienced during hurricanes and earthquakes which impaired first-responder communications. Not to mention the freaky reception patterns in metal-shielded locations.
“The company, a major supplier of equipment including push-to-talk phones used by police and fire departments, pitched its 5-year plan to President-elect Barack Obama's transition team in a letter on January 6, which was made public on Friday”.
“A Sprint official described it as a ‘ready to deploy emergency communications system that can be programmed to be interoperable with existing public safety networks.’"
If this system is so great and advantageous, why are investors in Sprint stock not funding the venture as a pilot product whose effectiveness and efficiency can be gauged during an actual emergency? Or is this another “all or nothing” pitch which requires further “study” contracts, pilot projects and other incremental costs?
“Obama's transition team has sought ideas from industry to solve communications problems that surfaced during disasters like the September 11 attacks on the United States and Hurricane Katrina.”
Perhaps the answers should be filtered through the professionals who work for the Department of Homeland Security rather than given to politicians who are ill-equipped to read legislation they are sending to the President, and would be hard-pressed to understand the details of a complicated communication’s system.
The real pitch …
There is no doubt in my mind that telecommunications carriers compete on confusion and chaos, multiple-bundling schemes with an almost infinite combination of dates, prices and services which is designed to bamboozle the consumer into paying much more for a simple service offered by other carriers.
Everybody is getting “stimulus” or bailout funds, why not us?
“Sprint officials, who are also lobbying lawmakers, hope to include the proposal in the billions flagged for technology in the economic stimulus plan working its way through Congress.”
“Sprint's plan calls for 100 satellite-based light trucks that would respond to emergencies, and 100,000 or more mobile handsets and equipment at up to 40 pre-selected sites.”
“The sites would allow for equipment to be shipped and arrive anywhere in the United States within four hours.”
Common sense tells me that a four-hour over-the-road delivery of equipment at 60 miles per hour (unlikely in a disaster area) limits the range to 240-miles. Delivery of equipment by rail, aircraft and boats is far more difficult and complex. The four hour limit therefore is bullshit considering the number of sites and amount of equipment described in this report! Of course, the plan could rely on a fleet of military and state helicopters –- but four hours? One needs only to consider how long it takes to place water-dropping helicopters and other aircraft on scene in California.
While there might be ways to make this work, it is extremely unlikely in a wide-spread regional emergency.
Pre-staged equipment caches, unless well-maintained and continually tested, tend to deteriorate into obsolete technological junk extremely fast – especially as new technologies are deployed. There is no guarantee that the entire stockpile of costly equipment would not become worthless in a matter of a few short years.
“Sprint has been struggling with market losses to AT&T Inc and Verizon Wireless, a venture between Verizon and Vodafone Group Plc.
“Motorola Inc developed and supplies handsets for Sprint's iDen network, which is often used by emergency workers.”
Single source suppliers using proprietary methodology is not the way I see the contracting process going. We are talking simpler, easier-to-use systems; not complex and fragile systems that require a confluence of good luck to operate under adverse conditions.
Whoops … look what these bastards are trying to sneak through … an end to network neutrality …
“A second Sprint proposal submitted to the transition team is for the Federal Communications Commission to look at re-regulating prices on telephone lines that route phone and Internet service.”
“Those lines are now controlled mainly by AT&T and Verizon, the remnants of the old Bell phone company monopoly that existed until 1984. Sprint says it spends one-third of the operating costs for its 60,000 cell sites to use the special access lines.”
Not only is this totally anti-competitive, but it would also insure a significant rate increase to the consumers and others who use these services.
Bottom line: in a time when foreign countries have better telephone and Internet networks than the United States and costs, which should have dropped long ago are increasing, we should not be subsidizing any company that cannot compete on its own – and without significant government subsidies.
Perhaps, as a cost-savings effort, we should demand that all government agencies re-verify those who are using mobile phones which are not necessary to their jobs. It has been reported than many cell phones have been issued to desk jockeys who have landlines and rarely work outside of their offices. Not to mention those who cross personal and professional message traffic on taxpayer-funded devices.
What can YOU do?
Just say NO!
Unless Sprint can make a compelling, competitive case for proven and demonstrable technology that will not be obsolete in the next few years; as well as providing matching investor funds – I say NO to a bailout of Sprint.
As for Sprint’s push for re-regulation – HELL NO! Anyone who pays a local or state utilitiy bill based on regulated tariffs knows that costs continually rise, services continually degrade and the regulated utilities continue to grease the political wheels.
Do not allow the common carriers to continue bribing politicians with campaign contributions when the politicians should be serving their constituents. Monitor campaign contributions (including those of lawyers, lobbyists, unions and public relations counsel) for disguised payments.
Emergency services are one thing: corruption and malfeasance in the contracting process is quite another.
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“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS "The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell “Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar “Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius
“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell
“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar
“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS