As Chicago police braced for protests at the NATO and G-8 summits in 2012, hometown radio giant Motorola, which has used tenacious marketing to reign over the emergency radio business, donated $1.8 million in telecom equipment that could beam data and videos to law enforcement officers shielding the world leaders. McClatchy Newspapers reports that Motorola executive John Molloy said the firm also could operate a network for the city as a “test platform” and provide Chicago agencies entrée to the world of emergency broadband LTE, the new standard for transmitting large amounts of data at rocket speed. From Mississippi to Texas and California, the company now known as Motorola Solutions Inc. has reshaped its business strategy “in the face of a technology tsunami that threatens to upend its decades-long hold on the emergency communications market,” McClatchy says.
While fighting to preserve its walkie-talkie franchise, Motorola has maneuvered to become a player in broadband, where it must contend with new and bigger competitors in a scrum for billions of dollars of taxpayer funds pledged for a coast-to-coast emergency data delivery network. Motorola's aggressive push into broadband, however, is a cause for consternation among officials of the First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet, the Commerce Department agency tasked with building the first nationwide public-safety communications system. Motorola has landed scores of sole-source radio contracts and wielded enough pricing power to sell its glitzy handsets for up to $7,000 apiece, at a taxpayer cost of hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars that could have been saved in a more competitive market.