Last week’s letter from President and CEO Tim Donahue to the FCC that the cellular giant would vacate portions of the 800MHz band where its service interfered with emergency first responder communications and relocate to the 1.9GHz band raised many questions for BAS incumbents.
While it was clear from the start that they would be protected in the band reconfiguration, the logistics of how BAS incumbents currently in the 1990MHz to 2110MHz band would be relocated were fuzzy, but by week’s end some details began to emerge, including:
- Nextel will pay for this re-banding; broadcasters won’t incur expense for new or modified equipment
- The deal with the FCC gives Nextel 31.5 months (from Jan. 21, 2005) to complete the re-banding plan;
- Users in the 1990MHz to 2110MHz band will be cleared and moved to bands in the 2031.5MHz to 2103MHz range;
- Nextel must submit to the FCC a “hard roll out schedule” by April 6 for the re-banding;
- Seven of eight regions in the United States will be re-banded first; the eighth encompassing Montana, the Dakotas and northernmost Minnesota will be done last.
- A Nextel team, including a broadcast engineer, project manager and spectrum resource manager, in each region will help stations do inventories and work with installation vendors.
- The re-banding will be done by market where feasible, and market cluster where there’s overlap, such as San Francisco and Sacramento;
- Nextel will work closely with SBE to coordinate the re-banding locally;
- Local broadcasters will soon receive mailed invitations from Nextel to attend a kick-off meeting to discuss the plan; some pre-launch gatherings have occurred in markets such as Houston;
- Nextel will have a presence at the NAB convention in April to discuss the plan.
The company has launched a Web site for broadcasters to explain the process www.2ghzrelocation.com.