Three years ago, MCP’s Nick Falgiatore received an IWCE Young Professional award, which was created to showcase next-generation leaders who are shaping the future of the communications industry. Now Nick is being recognized again, having been nominated for IWCE’s Critical Communications Leader of the Year award. This program recognizes individuals whose outstanding leadership has resulted in successful critical communications implementations. MCP Insights recently chatted with Nick about what his nomination means to him, the firm and—most importantly—our clients.
Insights: The nominees list reads like a veritable “who’s who” of industry heavyweights—what are your thoughts about being counted among them?
Nick: To be mentioned in the same breath as icons like Christy Williams, Andy Seybold, Robert LeGrande, Jeff Johnson and TJ Kennedy is incredibly gratifying.
Insights: What do you think got the nominating committee’s attention?
Nick: Over the last four years I’ve done a lot of sessions at IWCE events, as well as APCO conferences, about the convergence of LMR (land mobile radio) and broadband technologies. The message I’m putting out there is a different way of looking at how the adoption of broadband technology is going to happen. I’ve been able to share boots-on-the-ground experience in terms of how agencies actually are approaching convergence—and not the vendor community’s perspective based on products that they have available. I think the message is being very well-received.
Insights: Exactly how is your vision different?
Nick: Typically, any messages I put out there represent a pragmatic approach of augmenting public safety LMR with broadband. This migration will involve a lengthy transition period where technologies operate side by side, each with specific use cases.
Insights: Can you provide an example?
Nick: Some agencies will leverage push-to-talk over cellular or mission-critical push-to-talk as a secondary communications mode for a period of years until public safety broadband networks like the ones operated by FirstNet/AT&T and Verizon prove that they can meet public safety’s coverage, capacity, and reliability requirements, and prove the integrity of the applications that operate on them, so that public safety can feel comfortable using these networks for voice communications as well as data communications.
Insights: How have you been delivering the message?
Nick: The approach I’ve been presenting is logical and practical, and the presentations have been succinct, so that everyone, regardless of their technical expertise, can understand the message. One of my strengths is the ability to communicate complex ideas by simplifying them so that people can understand them, but without dumbing them down.
Insights: Hasn’t the public safety community always envisioned a phased migration from LMR to full broadband capabilities that would take several years?
Nick: Yes, and my vision builds on that. A lot of people understand that LMR and broadband systems will live side by side for quite a while, but my vision does a deep dive into the specific factors that will drive broadband adoption.
Insights: What are some of those factors?
Nick: Cost obviously is a huge one. One of the things we did was break down the cost of LMR procurements to a monthly per-user, per-radio fee. Historically, radio system procurements have represented such a large capital expenditure that no one has looked at them in the context of a monthly subscription fee. Because FirstNet’s network will have a such a fee, this approach enabled us to create an apples-to-apples comparison between LMR and FirstNet costs.
Insights: What other factors have you considered?
Nick: We’ve taken a look at the differences between LMR and broadband systems in terms of how they’re built. For example, with an LMR system you specify a very specific coverage level. With a broadband system, you don’t—you typically take what the carrier provides, and you have no ability to see where all the sites are located and determine what coverage each is delivering. Also the guarantees are a lot different.
Insights: In your various presentations, have you delved into tactics for integrating LMR and broadband?
Nick: The integration actually is pretty simple—it has two basic elements. One is the ability to take an LMR talkgroup, pipe it through a gateway, and then have it traverse into a broadband system. That’s not difficult to do. The other element is to have your channels go into a common dispatch console so that radio traffic can traverse both systems. We also have looked at integrated devices capable of LMR and public safety broadband operation, so that users can switch seamlessly between the two platforms. These are things that are available today—it’s not like we’re inventing anything—and the technical aspect of doing this is not terribly complicated. But the big picture that we’ve been trying to define is this: what is it going to take for an agency to say that it no longer needs LMR, and that it is going to buy a broadband system instead?
Insights: What do you think this nomination—which is a pretty big deal even if you don’t win—means in terms of your interaction with MCP’s clients and your ability to move the firm forward in the industry?
Nick: It brings a high level of credibility. We have worked very hard to position ourselves as thought leaders regarding the transition to the broadband environment, and we’ve been pushing the envelope in leading the industry to it.
Voting for IWCE's Critical Communications Leader of the Year Award ends Monday, March 9. To vote for Nick, click here.