Saturday, September 03, 2005

We keep trying to tell them 

One of the ideas that ham radio operators keep try to drive home to the FCC and other elected officials is that when the deification really strikes the rotating blade that amateur radio is one of the few forms of communications that are reliable. Commercial providers like cell phone companies which are in business to make money invest only enough to insure the continuing flow of revenue under mildly abnormal conditions.

Don't get me wrong, this is not a criticism it is what they do and I understand. It would not be pragmatic for a cell phone company to maintain the state of disaster readiness that amateur radio can provide. What does continue to amaze me is that public officials who obviously don't have the technical knowledge, and shouldn't be expected to, don't seek the guidance of those that do. Then when confronted with a monumental disaster like Katrina wonder why their high tech communications infrastructure collapses. I have my doubts but perhaps this time in the aftermath they will learn from it.

Here is an example of what I'm talking about from EE Times.

Louisiana governor blasts faulty wireless network

WASHINGTON — Struggling to cope with widespread chaos in
hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
blasted telecommunications providers for the apparent collapse of the
state's wireless network.

"The communications network is completely gone," Blanco said Thursday
(Sept. 1) as the situation in New Orleans grew more chaotic by the hour.
Blanco said wireless networks throughout the state remained down, and
that state officials were unable to use hand-held communications devices
like Blackberrys.

Hurricane Katrina has again exposed shortcomings in emergency
communications networks and the vulnerability of wireless networks
during emergencies. Critics said more spectrum needs to be earmarked for
emergency communications, and that networks need more redundancy to
function in disasters.

As of Friday, calls to hurricane relief centers in Louisiana were still
not being answered. The only response was that "all circuits are busy."

Back when Clinton was in office, I had to read through a stack of FEMA docs.

The importance of amateur radio was obvious and prominent.

I wonder if this has changed with the change in the administration and the change in emphasis at FEMA.

Rob of UnSpace
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