As expected, Nextel Communications today announced that it has accepted the terms of the FCC’s 800 MHz order, which calls for the wireless carrier to pay for interference-alleviating reconfiguration of the band in exchange for contiguous spectrum at 800 MHz and 1.9 GHz.

Nextel’s announcement was expected, as the FCC has addressed most of its primary concerns with the order and lawyers representing 800 MHz users publicly last week publicly acknowledged that they already had negotiated rebanding contracts with the wireless operator. In addition, most analysts said Nextel’s pending merger with Sprint was contingent on Nextel accepting the deal, which would create favorable spectrum synergies for the two wireless carriers.

"Solving public safety interference and securing additional spectrum have been long-standing priorities for first responders, and we're pleased to stand with the men and women who protect America's communities,” Nextel President and CEO Tim Donahue said in a prepared statement. “Nextel will begin the realignment process immediately and looks forward to continue working with the FCC, the Transition Administrator team, the public safety community, and all others involved in the reconfiguration process to complete the implementation.”

Under the FCC order, Nextel will pay at least $2.8 billion. This money will fund the rebanding process that will eliminate the current interleaved spectrum shared by Nextel and public-safety agencies—the source of most interference in the band—and leave Nextel and public safety with separate, contiguous swaths of 800 MHz spectrum. In addition, public safety will receive additional spectrum in the 800 MHz band.

Rebanding will be coordinated through a Transition Administrator team headed by BearingPoint and Baseline Telecom. Last week, the Transition Administrator released a schedule calling for rebanding to be completed by the middle of 2008.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell called the announcement a “major milestone,” thanking Nextel, public-safety officials and his fellow commissioners—each of whom voted for the controversial order—for making the rebanding process a reality.

“I am confident that we have set in motion a real solution,” Powell said in a prepared statement. “I can think of no better mark to leave than protecting the lives of the men and women who wear the shield, and it has been a privilege.”