Friday, October 13, 2006

Listen up AT&T: Protect the BellSouth Engineers!

Most people don't know it... but Bellsouth is home to the most experienced hurricane response team in the world. Bar none. Bellsouth - and pretty much any utility company in the south - has almost yearly experience recovering from some sort of natural disaster. They have successfully recovered from hurricane after hurricane, tornados, flooding, ice, etc.

After Katrina, it’s amazing that Bill Smith, Chief Technology Officer for BellSouth Corporation, and his team have yet to be guaranteed their positions once the SBC(ATT)/BellSouth merger completes. While Bill would be the first to tell you they have procedures that need improvement, the BellSouth response to Katrina and Rita's large scale crisis was professional and (relatively) effective.

Keep in mind that disaster preparedness is not revenue generating! And even in the best cases recovering from a distaster costs the company millions to billions of unbudgeted dollars. So we all need to remind the folks planning ATT/SBC/Bellsouth's 10,000 layoffs how crucial protecting these skills are.

The FCC Commissioners recently introduced a new Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. The new bureau will presumably continue the often complimented job (yeah, it's ok to laugh) of the FCC getting regulations out of the way during Katrina crisis. Regardless, D.C. bureaus and committees are not enough. Real public safety requires the most skilled professionals at the companies involved.

Hopefully part of the merger approval negotiations that are ongoing will include a quiet conversation between the FCC Chairman, Randall and Ed. A simple comment that the commission will continue to watch the staffing and level of investment in disaster preparedness should do the trick. AT&T has plenty of good reasons to take advantage of the BellSouth engineering talent. Let's hope they actually do the right thing.