Nextel Accepts FCC 800 MHz/2 GHz Plan

February 8, 2005
At a press conference including executives from Nextel and FCC Chairman Michael Powell this week, Nextel announced that it had accepted a plan to move the cell phone carrier off frequencies that interfered with public safety radio frequencies and onto new frequencies in the 1.9 GHz band, including 5 MHz of former 2GHz ENG channel 1.

In a letter to the FCC accepting the plan, Tim Donahue, president of Nextel said, "Today, Nextel stands shoulder to shoulder with public safety and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and accepts the responsibilities, obligations, license modifications and conditions specified in the FCC's Report and Order in WT Docket 02-55, Improving Public Safety Communications in the 800 MHz Band, as modified by the subsequent errata, public notice and orders that have been issued by the Commission."

One of the obligations Nextel accepted was relocating broadcast auxiliary services (BAS) from the lower two channels of the 2 GHz BAS band. In under three years, Nextel will have to transition incumbent BAS licensees in the 2 GHz band from ENG systems that are predominantly analog and require a 16 to 17 MHz wide channel to digital systems that will provide comparable audio and video quality in the 12 MHz wide channels under the new band plan. Nextel has been preparing for the transition by holding meetings with broadcasters around the country and working with equipment manufacturers to ensure enough digital microwave equipment will be available to complete the transition by the deadline.

I described the plan in RF Report for Aug. 10, 2004. My next RF Technology Column in TV Technology outlines steps stations with 2 GHz ENG facilities should take to prepare for the transition to digital ENG and how Nextel will help. For more information on the plan, see the FCC Web site Public Safety: 800 MHz Band Reconfiguration. A time line on the Web page shows that in addition to the Feb. 7 deadline for Nextel to accept the plan, there is a March 7, 2005 deadline for Nextel to certify it has obtained a letter of trust, to specify trustees and to file a bankruptcy letter and financial interest letter.

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