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Recently a well-known trade publication reported that Motorola has applied for $50 million in Federal grants for a Bay Area broadband network in partnership with the Bay Area Super Urban Area Security Initiative (SUASI).  The proposed network (known as BayWeb) would use 700 MHz radio spectrum intended for public safety usage,  and potentially allow Motorola to compete with incumbent cell phone carriers to sell service to government and private users.

I see serious ethical issues when a government entity which is directed by a former Motorola employee recruits a staff of former Motorola employees and then enters into an exclusive and unique business arrangement that would allow Motorola to potentially acquire incredibly valuable spectrum and contracts without a competitive selection process.  This is not in the best interest of the cities and counties in the Bay Area.

This is not the first appearance of impropriety with regard to Bay Area SUASI and Motorola.

Public safety agencies in the Bay Area already benefit from superb wireless data access provided by Verizon,  Sprint and ATT.  The cost is approximately $50 per month per mobile unit, with no capital investment or capital replacement expense for the subscribing agencies. These carriers have all announced plans to migrate from existing 3G technologies to a 4G systems based in LTE or WiMax.  Would  the Federal grant-funded Motorola deal offer any advantage to Bay Area municipalities, or is the benefit focused on Motorola stakeholders?

Does SUASI’s sponsorship of Motorola’s grant proposal uniquely position Motorola to compete with the incumbent wireless carriers?  Will Motorola provide the hardware, software, engineering and system integration services and ongoing operational support for this proposed taxpayer-funded network without competitive bid?   Does SUASI’s action give an unfair competitive advantage to Motorola?  Is this yet another appearance of impropriety at Bay Area SUASI?

Click here to read the full article as it appeared in Mission Critical Communications, Radio Resource International.

Motorola Applies for $50M in Grants for Bay Area Broadband Network – 04/12/2010