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Time To Act On National-Safety Net Is Now

In the wake of today's apparent terrorist bombings in London, it's appropriate to ask -- now almost four years after the attacks of Sept. 11 -- why there isn't yet a national first-responders network built in this country.
Blame whoever you want -- lobbyists, weak politicians, internal bureaucrats -- the simple truth is, we're still woefully unprepared, from a telecommunications standpoint, for the inevitable next attack on our cities and citizens. Thankfully, London's mobile networks apparently handled the strain caused by today's events, but there's no guarantee that our current communications infrastructures are ready for the next occurrence, be it a bombing or another disaster, like a hurricane or a widespread power outage. Clearly, we need a better system. Now.

The technology for such a network already exists in many forms, ready to be deployed. All it takes is some cash and perhaps some policital will. But instead of making something necessary happen, today's leaders and their fiscal supporters seem much more interested in making theatric statements about fringe issues that don't affect everyday life, or how our country will deal with its next true crisis.

If this kind of thing makes you mad, now is the time to speak up. Contact your representatives -- you know, the people you elected -- and tell them to speed up the release of the old analog television spectrum, so that the valuable wavelengths can be used for powerful wireless communications that won't get snarled in times of heavy use.

Tell them you'll gladly pay the 50 bucks for a converter so your old tube will still work with the new digital networks, thereby eliminating the threadbare arguments used by the broadcasters' lobbyists. That's a small sacrifice we can each make to get the ball rolling toward the advanced services our emergency and protection professionals deserve.