The FCC last month denied Sprint Nextel's request for an eight-month delay in the 36-month schedule to reconfigure the 800 MHz band but acknowledged that some flexibility within the three-year window to accommodate public safety may be warranted.

Sprint Nextel made the request in early December 2005 in an FCC filing that noted numerous issues negatively impacting the rebanding effort, including changes such as a November 2005 FCC order that gave some 800 MHz licensees the right to change their frequency elections. In a letter to Sprint Nextel, the FCC denied the request.

“A paramount goal of the commission in this proceeding is to eliminate harmful interference to public-safety systems as quickly as possible,” the letter states. “We therefore believe the public interest would not be served by a blanket adjustment of the current 36-month rebanding schedule and will not grant your request.”

While denying the most significant request, the FCC acknowledged the challenges in the rebanding schedule, including the fact that Wave 1 has a disproportionate number of complex public-safety systems that may need more time than the existing reconfiguration schedule allots.

“I think everybody's beginning to learn the lesson that public safety needs the time to plan and to execute — not only execute the reconfiguration but execute contracts, also,” said Sandy Edwards, Sprint Nextel's vice president of spectrum resources. “And that timing needs to be addressed a little bit better. I don't want to say to a public-safety entity, ‘OK, you have three days to get this done.’ That's not good for any of us.”

Transition Administrator Director Brett Haan said officials are reviewing the schedule and considering the notion of extending some wave-specific deadlines. Although such changes are possible, Haan stressed that rebanding participants should proceed based on the current schedule.

“We're currently evaluating whether adjustments to the reconfiguration schedule are necessary,” Haan said. “But unless or until changes are approved by the FCC, all parties should continue to aggressively engage in the process according to the timelines we've laid out.”