UTC to poll members about Nextel proposal
The United Telecom Council intends to ask its members via e-mail for opinions about the Nextel Communications spectrum reallocation proposal. Founded in 1948, UTC represents the telecommunications interests of electric and gas utilities, water companies and gas pipelines.
Along with other associations that represent the interests of private and commercial land mobile radio system operators and users, UTC is expected to file comments with the FCC once the Nextel proposal is released in the form of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Nextel has proposed reallocating spectrum in the UHF and microwave bands. The purpose is foremost to reduce the interference that its systems cause to public safety radio communications and secondarily to other private and commercial radio systems.
UTC members with questions about the Nextel proposal have been invited to contact the association’s vice president and general counsel, Jill Lyon, at [email protected]
In a statement issued on Dec. 4, 2001, UTC signaled what it called its “strong opposition” to the Nextel proposal, saying that if the proposal were adopted, it would devastate hundreds of vital critical infrastructure communications systems now operating in the affected spectrum.
“Nextel’s proposal, while politically attractive on the surface, would cause significantly more harm than it would solve,” the statement quotes Lyon as saying. “In calling for the forced migration of thousands of private wireless systems to inadequate and often unavailable spectrum, Nextel’s proposal would endanger the ability of utilities, water systems and energy companies to provide basic, critical services to the people of the United States.”
UTC characterized the Nextel proposal as claiming to embody a way to eliminate harmful interference to adjacent systems caused by Nextel’s and cellular carriers’ digital systems while adding to the current public safety spectrum inventory. The association has taken the position that the steps Nextel proposes would come at the expense of all other users, especially critical infrastructure, an area of national concern no less, if not more, important than public safety emergency communications.
UTC’s statement summarizes the Nextel proposal as requiring all business and industrial/land transportation licensees, together with public safety pool licensees to move from their present assignments in the 800MHz band, and allowing continuing BI/LT operations only on a secondary, non-interference basis in their present home in the on 806MHz-816MHz/851MHz-861MHz paired frequency bands. UTC warned that Nextel proposes that BI/LT licensees pay for their own forced migration to frequencies now licensed to Nextel licenses in other frequency bands.
“Nextel’s efforts to buy remaining 800MHz spectrum have been unsuccessful because utilities and other critical infrastructure rely on their internal systems for a number of mission-critical purposes no commercial carrier can match,” said Lyon. “This is basically an anti-competitive proposal. Nextel now seeks to accomplish by regulatory fiat what it has been unable to win using market forces.”
Although UTC has urged the FCC not to initiate a rulemaking proceeding based on Nextel’s proposal, it appears as though the federal agency intends to do just that.