Nextel accepts 800MHz plan; 1.9GHz BAS re-banding on the way

The cellular giant agreed to an FCC plan to vacate portions of it 800MHz operation, relocate to 1.9GHz and pay to move BAS incumbents out
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Nextel Communications accepted the terms of a significant spectrum re-banding and reconfiguring plan Monday, Feb. 7, that clears the company from the 800MHz band where its cellular phones interfere with emergency communications systems of first responders. It also commits the company to paying for the relocation of Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS)incumbents currently in the 1.9GHz band.

Under an FCC plan, the company had until Feb. 7 to accept or reject the terms of the deal.

In his letter of acceptance, Nextel President and CEO Tim Donahue told out-going FCC Chairman Michael Powell that his company “stands shoulder to shoulder” with the commission and the public safety community and “accepts the responsibilities, obligations, license modifications, and conditions” laid out in the FCC’s “Improving Public Safety Communications in the 800MHz Band” Report and Order.

Nextel said it has begun the reconfiguration process.

According to a Nextel spokesman, the company has three years to complete the reconfiguration of the 800MHz band. Moving the portion of Nextel’s existing 800MHz cellular operation that interferes with radio transmissions of emergency first responders to the 1.9GHz band will begin as soon as the company has relocated BAS incumbents.

The agreement is a boon to broadcast ENG operations using the 1910MHz to 1915MHz and 1990MHz to 1995MHz band, which were in the commission’s crosshairs for band clearing via a market segment plan that both the National Association of Broadcasters and the Association for Maximum Service Television called “flawed.”

BAS incumbents will be relocated at the expense of Nextel, which could save broadcasters as much as $500 million.

Details of exactly how the BAS relocation will be implemented have not yet been made public. At mid-week, Nextel put up a new Web site, to address basic questions about BAS reconfiguration. Additionally, Nextel plans to have a presence at the NAB convention, April 16-21, in Las Vegas to further the dialogue with broadcasters as well as present the details during a session at the trade show.

To read more about the plan, see: “FCC adopts plan to end interference in public safety band; broadcasters stand to benefit.”

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