Nextel Communications and the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association this week exchanged barbs concerning CTIA’s proposal to award Nextel 2.1 GHz replacement spectrum as part of an FCC plan to reband 800 MHz frequencies in an attempt to eliminate interference with public-safety communications.

For nearly two years, Nextel has supported the Consensus Plan, which is backed by most public-safety organizations and would award the wireless carrier the 1.9 GHz spectrum it desires. CTIA recently proposed a plan that would award 2.1 GHz airwaves to Nextel, noting that the carrier initially sought this spectrum in 2001.

But Nextel no longer wants 2.1 GHz spectrum, as President and CEO Tim Donahue recently wrote to FCC Chairman Michael Powell that such an award would be "untenable" to his company’ shareholders. This week, Nextel noted in a filing with the FCC that three potential downlink bands in the CTIA proposal are encumbered largely by its wireless competitors, which Nextel likely would have to pay to clear from the spectrum. Nextel fears it will be difficult to get these competitors to vacate the spectrum at a reasonable price, which could delay the carrier’s plans to offer advanced wireless services using the spectrum.

"This gives them [Nextel’s commercial wireless competitors] the opportunity to directly affect the time and costs for us to use that spectrum," Nextel spokesman Tim O’Regan said.

Nextel also noted that Verizon Wireless—the most outspoken competitor in its opposition to the FCC awarding 1.9 GHz spectrum to Nextel—acknowledged in a separate proceeding the difficulty of using 2.1 GHz spectrum for mobile services and recommended that the uplink band be designated for government use instead of being auctioned to commercial carriers.

CTIA responded Wednesday with a filing that described Nextel’s concerns about 2.1 GHz airwaves as "unwarranted," noting that "nothing of significance" has changed in the band since Nextel included the spectrum in its 2001 white paper that initially proposed the 800 MHz rebanding.

Nextel would be allowed to negotiate with incumbents on the spectrum for two years, after which the carrier could "involuntarily relocate" them, according to CTIA. If Nextel remains concerned about clearing the three potential downlink bands cited in its filing, CTIA suggested Nextel consider using airwaves at 2155-2160 MHz band that are "at least partially licensed to Nextel, so Nextel should have an easier time of clearing incumbent systems and making use of the band."