Nextel Communications has asked the FCC to deny a petition filed to remove BearingPoint from the Transition Administrator team overseeing 800 MHz rebanding, saying that BearingPoint revealed it had a contractual relationship with Nextel during the search process.

Mobile Relay Associates and Skitronics filed the petition on Feb. 7, stating that BearingPoint's disclosure that it received almost $32 million annually in contracts with Nextel means the company does not meet the FCC's standard for independence and impartiality in the position.

“BearingPoint, almost certainly, in consultation with Nextel, had concealed the existence of material information demonstrating it to be unqualified,” the petition states. “With BearingPoint receiving almost $32 million per year from Nextel — a fact hidden until Jan. 28, 2005 — BearingPoint is not independent or impartial.”

In its filing, Nextel asserted that BearingPoint revealed its contractual relationship with Nextel last October, when the five-member Transition Administrator Search Committee (TASC) — with Nextel being one member — recommended BearingPoint as part of the TA team.

BearingPoint's October letter noted that it had an ongoing contract with Nextel to provide back-office systems testing and support. BearingPoint stated “the contracts do not involve any work with the 800 MHz network and … BearingPoint has not had any interaction with Nextel's TASC representative for any of these contracts.”

But David Kaufman, attorney for Mobile Relay Associates and Skitronics, said the October letter's nondisclosure that Nextel was paying BearingPoint almost $32 million annually — 1% of BearingPoint's annual revenues — was deceptive.

“They figured it was a lot harder for the FCC to remove somebody than to not appoint them in the first place,” Kaufman said. “This was obviously a plan.”

Indeed, both Nextel and the law firm of Squires, Sanders & Dempsey — legal counsel for the Transition Administrator team — noted in filings last month that an FCC decision to remove BearingPoint almost certainly would delay the rebanding process as a replacement is sought. A schedule released on Jan. 31 calls for the rebanding process to begin officially on June 27 and be completed during the summer of 2008.

This petition was the second one filed by Mobile Relay Associates and Skitronics to try to stop progress on rebanding. The first petition, claiming the rebanding order would cause irreparable harm to the two companies, was denied on Jan. 14 by the FCC. An appeals court upheld that decision on Feb. 2.