FCC Pushes Sprint on Rebanding Obligations

The FCC sets new benchmarks for moving first responders from the 1.9GHz band to the 800MHz spectrum.

The Federal Communications Commission said Sept. 11 that Sprint Nextel has not met its rebanding obligations for moving public safety agencies into the 800MHz band.

The FCC established new benchmarks for Sprint with the goal of clearing the spectrum for first responders by June 26, 2008.

In a controversial 2004 spectrum swap, the FCC approved giving Nextel, which was later acquired by Sprint, a new spectrum at 1.9GHz in exchange for vacating the 800MHz band, where public safety officials complained of cell phone interference.

The FCC calculated the value of the 1.9GHz spectrum at $4.8 billion, minus the cost of relocating incumbent users. Nextel agreed to pay the cost of moving first responders using the 1.9GHz band to the 800MHz band.


Click here to read more about the Nextel spectrum swap.

The transition has been less than smooth for both sides and Sprint Nextel has fallen behind schedule.

"While the Commission has hoped to be further along, we are committed to ensuring that 800MHz rebanding is completed in a timely manner while, at the same time, protecting full continuity of public safety operations during the transition," said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, in Washington.

The FCCs Sept. 11 order requires Sprint to complete clearing of all 800MHz incumbents, with the exception of Sprint, by the end of 2007. In addition, Sprint must clear its own channels in the band within 90 days of a request by a public safety licensee.

"The obligation to complete the rebanding process does not fall on Sprint alone, but requires all stakeholders to redouble their efforts," Martin said.


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