Sprint asks commission for delay in vacating 800MHz spectrum

Sprint Nextel has asked to FCC to extend the June 26 deadline for it to stop using a key piece of 800MHz spectrum close to the networks of public safety agencies.

Sprint is required to vacate the spectrum as part of a larger FCC plan to swap spectrum with public safety agencies in the 800MHz band, a move aimed at minimizing interference between wireless service and public safety users.

The request, filed last week, came shortly after the FCC granted requests from several public safety agencies to delay relinquishing their spectrum under the swap until July 1, 2009. Sprint’s request for a delay, however, is separate and focuses on a third piece of spectrum, between the two ends of the swap, that serves as a buffer zone to prevent interference.

That piece is important because it would allow Sprint to minimize disruption during the transition as the spectrum is being reconfigured.

Sprint is asking that it be allowed to give up the spectrum on a phased schedule, as public safety agencies in each region of the United States get closer to vacating theirs.

A federal appeals court last month ordered Sprint to adhere to the June 26 schedule after concluding that the deadline was reasonable.