After months of hushed comments, off-the-record statement and knowing nods and winks, it's out in the open now: Rebanding is officially behind schedule.

Two weeks ago, the Transition Administrator (TA) said so in its quarterly report. Last night, Sprint Nextel confirmed this and indicated it might be worse than the TA had stated. In addition, Sprint Nextel asked that the entire three-year process should be pushed back at least seven months.

Sprint Nextel claims it is behind the aggressive implementation schedule because it was not a product of "sound" planning -- Wave 1 should have been the easiest wave instead of the largest and most complex -- and because the TA and the FCC keep changing rules and guidelines associated with rebanding.

Today, a TA spokesman said the Sprint Nextel request is "under review." It will be interesting to see the kind of reception it gets at the FCC, which approved the report and order establishing the need for rebanding almost a year-and-half ago. I don't think the commission envisioned this process extending well into 2009 when it approved the order.

Also, if the FCC considers granting the order, I wonder whether we will hear from Sprint Nextel's wireless competitors. Remember, Verizon Wireless was outspoken that the FCC was providing Nextel a sweet deal, allowing a carrier charged with creating interference to emerge from the situation with valuable blocks of spectrum at 800 MHz and 1.9 GHz.

Whether one agrees with Sprint Nextel's arguments or not, one aspect of the wireless carrier's filing seems to be true: We're only now getting where we should have been months ago. Just in the last few weeks have licensees been given direction on how to submit forms for planning funding and received some guidance regarding personnel costs and educational costs.

Unfortunately, there still are several unanswered questions, such as when overtime payments are appropriate and which--if any--so-called "drive tests" Sprint Nextel will pay for. It's understandable that TA and Sprint Nextel officials value the flexibility that comes with dealing with such issues on a case-by-case basis, but it seems increasingly apparent that more blanket policy guidelines are needed to complete this massive engineering undertaking in a timely manner.

E-mail me at djackson@primediabusiness.com.