As the FCC decides whether to rule on its proposal to transition some 900 MHz spectrum from land-mobile-radio (LMR) use to broadband, pdvWireless is buying and swapping airwaves in the band make its desired retuning task easier, according to Morgan O’Brien, the vice chairman for pdvWireless.

Under the pdvWireless proposal, a 5x5 MHz swath of interleaved 900 MHz spectrum that was designed for LMR use in the 1980s would be reconfigured. If completed as planned, pdvWireless would have a nationwide, contiguous 3x3 MHz swath at the upper end of the band that could support broadband technologies like LTE, while the lower end of the band would continue to be used for narrowband communications.

O’Brien and other pdvWireless officials have said that the company plans to leverage the proposed broadband spectrum to offer enhanced-dispatch services via customized networks, with critical-infrastructure entities like utilities receiving priority access on the systems.

In November 2014, the FCC initiated a proceeding on the proposal that was completed last year. The FCC has not issued a rulemaking, but the Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) believes a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) has been drafted, according to EWA President and CEO Mark Crosby.

“It’s EWA’s belief that the [FCC] has drafted an NPRM, the contents of which we have no idea,” Crosby said during an IWCE 2016 session about the 900 MHz band. “Something’s going to happen … this is a proceeding that has a heartbeat.”

Meanwhile, pdvWireless officials have not been sitting idly as the FCC considers the company’s proposal, O’Brien said. Instead, the company has been meeting with 900 MHz narrowband incumbents—many of which are utilities—to discuss private arrangements that can be executed without an FCC ruling.

“If you buy a 900 MHz system, that system no longer has to be retuned,” O’Brien said. “If you swap spectrum from another band with an incumbent and make them happy with the swap, then your job just got a lot easier.

“We discuss what the incumbent might find acceptable, so we can move on.”

And the spectrum deals are not necessarily limited to acquisitions or swaps of 900 MHz spectrum, O’Brien said.

“I wouldn’t say that there’s no consideration or discussion of other bands,” he said. “Sometimes, you have to do a four-way deal to get to an objective.”

This strategy is not new to pdvWireless officials, many of whom are veterans of Nextel Communications—the iDEN operator co-founded by O’Brien and sold to Sprint more than a decade ago. Nextel and its predecessor, FleetCall, built its nationwide airwave holdings via a series of spectral-maneuvering deals. Officials for pdvWireless officials have been adamant that the company does not plan to become a nationwide commercial carrier like Nextel, but such deals can “lessen the problem” of realigning the 900 MHz band, O’Brien said.