Saturday, September 17, 2005

Bailing out the U.S.

I had dinner last night with a technical guru from one of the major European manufacturers of cell phone infrastructure. He's here meeting with representatives from the U.S. armed forces because..., well because they have a problem, and this European corporation is chipping in to help gratis.

The problem is that in New Orleans, after the prolonged power outage, many of the cell phone towers went dead - their battery backup ran out, and service was cut. The various america relief forces - National Guard, Army, Navy, police etc., all have excellent field communication equipment. But none of these systems can talk with the other. And what is the solution - to setup an ad-hoc cellular network. This European company is actually drop-shipping huge cellular phone base stations complete with diesel powered generators to create a phone system that the various relief forces can use to communicate among themselves.

So of course I asked why the U.S. can't pay for all this. Well, he explained, the problem is that no one wants to shoulder the burden - the state, the city, the federal government - it's a stalemate. So for humanitarian reasons the company is shipping this super-pricey equipment without a purchase order and without any guarantee that it will ever be paid for.

It's a bit equivalent to me going out and panhandling on the excuse that I can't get my shit together...

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