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Letters: New service ushers in new interference

An article by Patrick Springer entitled "Making waves in new technology" appeared in The Fargo Forum on Nov. 22, describing a proposal by a company known as Flow Mobile for a statewide wireless network, as well as unusual steps by the state to usher it in, despite opposition from the entire national public safety community. It would seem that Flow Mobile's "marquee" demonstration of this service in Dickinson is more an indication of the widespread complaints that state and local governments could expect from a Flow Mobile service.

In particular, it appears that the system has been facilitated without regard to citizen use of the popular unlicensed band that it occupies.

"Over 65 customers of Consolidated Telecom have complained about radio frequency interference since Flow Mobile installed their equipment," said Paul Schuetzler, CEO of Consolidated Telecom.

Many businesses have complained about local interference, including hotels, clinics, insurance agents, dental offices and numerous consumers. The common element with these customer complaints is their proximity to the new Flow Mobile transmitters on top of city-owned light poles and buildings.

The frequencies that Flow Mobile uses take up just about the entire 2.4GHz unlicensed band, and thus interfere with almost every wireless consumer device in the home or office that operates in that frequency band.

Flow Mobile has installed a massive net of these transmitters, which drown out consumer-owned devices such as cordless phones, baby monitors, wireless computers, wireless routers, wireless play station controllers, wireless light switches, wireless dog fences and wireless iPods.

Flow Mobile's network is publicized for public safety and public use; yet it appears that "public" use has been relegated to only that which is controlled by Flow Mobile. Given the number of citizen complaints, one can't help but wonder, why would both the city of Dickinson and the state be so interested in endorsing a company that has virtually no operating experience in North Dakota, and is creating problems for citizens already using the unlicensed spectrum.

It seems like the citizens should be able to expect better when their government is giving away free use of its infrastructure to Flow Mobile.

Derrick Bulawa, CEO of BEK Communications, Steele