Guard band breakdown
While Access Spectrum says it has one customer and a strategy for sales, other companies with guard band licenses are less forthcoming.
Pegasus disclosed for the first time that it is in “active discussions with a number of potential users for its guard band licenses.” Although it does not have any agreements in place, Pegasus told the FCC that it is in the process of negotiating spectrum lease agreements for its licensed areas. Pegasus said that it hopes to begin entering into lease agreements with spectrum users within a year.
None of the other band managers had anything to say about customers, although Nextel said that it had made its spectrum available for the use of wireless microphones at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Salt Lake City last winter.
Nextel has no plans to put its guard band spectrum to use if it can trade it for much more valuable 1.9 GHz spectrum that it could use for third-generation cellular service.
And why shouldn’t Nextel wait and see what happens in the pending FCC proceeding to resolve interference to public safety radio communications systems in the 800 MHz band if the outcome means a breathtaking spectrum upgrade? As do all the band managers, Nextel has until Jan. 1, 2015, to develop its 700 MHz spectrum.
“In the event the FCC does not adopt an 800 MHz band plan to address public safety interference that includes a spectrum swap involving the 700 MHz guard band spectrum held by Nextel, Nextel intends to meet its substantial service requirements on the guard band by the 2015 license renewal date,” Nextel told the FCC.
The equipment question
Some band managers told the FCC that they knew equipment for 700 MHz was available, and others seemed to be oblivious.
Access reported that it had met with “[more than] a dozen manufacturers of voice and data radio equipment-including Microwave Data Systems and Trident Micro Systems, that have begun to develop 700 MHz equipment-to facilitate the development of equipment that utilizes our 700 MHz spectrum.”
Access also told the FCC that it had “entered into an agreement with Motorola to design, manufacture and market infrastructure and portable and mobile radio products for use by enterprises and private carriers.”
“Equipment currently available for use with the 700 MHz guard band licenses includes a trunked subscriber portable and mobile radio system from Motorola; repeaters from Spectrum Corp., and PassPort trunking controllers from Trident Micro Systems. In addition, Microwave Data Systems has announced the future production of a system for private point-to-multipoint operations, and SCADA has announced a remote telemetry unit and master station unit,” Pegasus wrote.
“Delays in the auction of adjacent 700 MHz licenses have caused delays and uncertainties over the availability of equipment for the 700 MHz band,” Harbor Wireless told the FCC.
“Radiofone is not aware of any available base station or end-user equipment that is commercially available at this time,” Radiofone reported.
“Due to uncertainties related to the adjacent 700 MHz spectrum bands and the lack of available equipment for commercial use at this time, PTPMS II is unable to predict when it will have agreements in place for the use of the spectrum, or when equipment will become available,” PTPMS II wrote.
“Motorola has received FCC equipment authorizations for base, portable and mobile equipment capable of operating in the 700 MHz guard bands. The equipment is available for shipment today or in the near future,” Motorola told the FCC.
“Largely due to the broadcast incumbency on these frequencies, there is little, if any, readily available equipment that can operate at the guard band frequencies other than for public safety radio systems,” Nextel reported.
Dominion, whose report contained the fewest details, told the FCC nothing about equipment availability.
Siegel is a partner with Columbia Capital, Alexandria, Va., an original investor in Nextel Communications, and an investor in Neoworld, Bloomfield, N.J. Neoworld, headed by a former Nextel president, bought 900 MHz spectrum from Geotek after that company went bankrupt, and Neoworld apparently never developed it. Neoworld then sold its spectrum to Nextel this year, and that 900 MHz spectrum might be included in Nextel’s spectrum swap.
The Big Three
Access Spectrum — 21 licenses
Pegasus — 34 licenses
Nextel 700 Guard Band, Reston, Va. — 39 licenses
The rest of the pack
Radiofone Nationwide PCS, Metarie, La., has one license for the Gulf of Mexico
PTPMS II Communications, Cranford, N.J., has three licenses
Dominion 700, Alexandria, Va., has one license for Washington, D.C
Harbor Wireless has one license for Alaska
Motorola has one license for New Orleans-Baton Rouge