Reconfiguration of the 800 MHz band is progressing. Licensees and Sprint Nextel are reaching frequency reconfiguration agreements, or FRAs, and many licensees have either completed their physical retuning (reconfiguration implementation) or are preparing to reconfigure. Through June 16, 647 FRAs have been submitted to the 800 MHz Transition Administrator.

Given the established schedule, much of this progress has been generated by Stage 1 (General Category, Channels 1-120) licensees. As such, there is still a significant portion of the licensee community, specifically NPSPAC licensees, that has not commenced negotiations with Sprint Nextel.

Many licensees require funding to begin the activities necessary to prepare their cost estimates and require reaching FRAs with Sprint Nextel. With more NPSPAC (Stage 2) licensees preparing to commence their activities, it is important to revisit the request for planning funding (RFPF) process.

On June 14, the TA issued revised RFPF guidance that provides information on the submission requirements for the planning funding agreement (PFA) fast-track option and updated deadlines for RFPF submittals. In addition, the TA provided additional clarifications on areas resulting in requests for information (RFI) from the TA.

The TA sends RFIs to the licensee when issues with the RFPF are identified. These issues can range from data inconsistencies to missing information, and hinder the TA's ability to finalize the RFPF review.

The TA encourages licensees with fewer than 500 subscriber units to consider working with Sprint Nextel to reach an FRA that includes any necessary planning funds (known as a hybrid FRA) rather than expending the time and resources necessary to reach a separate PFA. In coordination with public safety, TA resources are available to assist in efforts to develop an RFPF and cost estimate as input to the FRA negotiations.

RFPFs must be submitted by the TA deadlines for each wave and stage as illustrated in the table.

WAVE 1 WAVE 2 WAVE 3 WAVE 4
1-120 NPSPAC 1-120 NPSPAC 1-120 NPSPAC 1-120 NPSPAC
Voluntary Start Date for 1-120 / NPSPAC June 27 2005 Feb. 1, 2006 Oct. 3 2005 Aug. 1, 2006 Jan. 3, 2006 Nov. 1, 2006 July 3,* 2006 Feb 1 2007*
Request For Planning Funding Submission Deadline N/A July 17, 2006 N/A Aug. 1, 2006 May 15, 2006 Nov. 1, 2006 July 1,* 2006 Feb 1 2007*
*Tentative dates; actual dates for this Wave depends on border treaties with Mexico and Canada

These deadlines are necessary to ensure reconfiguration proceeds on schedule pursuant to the FCC's Report and Order. If you miss the deadline, you should incorporate any necessary planning costs into the cost estimate as part of your FRA. Planning funding requests submitted after the deadline will not be accepted without adequate explanation as to why funding is required prior to negotiating an FRA.

The fast-track option allows licensees and Sprint Nextel to streamline their efforts to execute a PFA. It does not require anything different when submitting your RFPF. Rather, it allows licensees, whose RFPF submissions meet certain guidelines, to secure planning funding faster. If a licensee's RFPF submission does not qualify, the RFPF will follow the standard negotiation process.

Engaging early, whether requesting planning funding or not, is critical to the success of reconfiguration. Early dialogue with Sprint Nextel and, where necessary, the TA, is critical to successful reconfiguration. If at any time negotiations have stalled, the TA is available, whether to assist with Sprint Nextel or to request mediation. Forms are available online. As you fulfill your responsibilities as a reconfiguring 800 MHz licensee, take advantage of the resources and information on our Web site (www.800TA.org), including the Online Reference Guide, online seminars (Webinars) and/or the TA Contact Center, which is available to assist in the process. For further assistance, contact the TA at comments@800TA.org or (888) 800-8220.


Brett Haan is the director of the Transition Administrator, established by the FCC to guide the 800 MHz band reconfiguration.