Congressman pushes FCC to guarantee reband funding
Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.) this week called on the Federal Communications Commission to reband the 800 MHz spectrum that is plagued by interference issues, but said it was critical that the FCC ensure that public-safety entities receive “a sufficient amount of funding to fully and completely transition to the band.” Fossella made his comments in a letter to FCC Chairman Michael Powell.
In the letter, Fossella said the cost to relocate public safety in the 800 MHz band is estimated at $698 million, and claimed that Nextel has pledged $700 million for the project. “Even the slightest cost overrun would break the fund,” Fossella said. He also expressed concern that the spectrum Nextel would receive as part of the deal—including an additional 10 MHz in the 1.9 GHz band—is “valued at between $3 billion and $5 billion.”
Last week, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association wrote to President George Bush to criticize aspects of the Nextel-initiated Consensus Plan. The FLEOA is concerned that public-safety entities would have to pay for the relocation and then apply for reimbursement, something that might be difficult given the fiscal constraints that some police and fire departments find themselves under. The FOP also expressed concern about the reimbursement plan and the fact that Nextel’s contribution would be capped at $700 million, which would fall “far short of what would be needed to replace literally millions of radios that would be rendered obsolete” by the realignment.
Meanwhile, the Law Enforcement Alliance of America and consumer groups including the United Seniors Association and The Consumers’ Voice expressed support for the Consensus Plan. The LEAA, in a letter to Congress, called it the “only viable plan that will virtually eliminate interference, without any cost to the taxpayers.” However, in his letter to Powell, Fossella cited estimates from some analysts that the rebanding would result in a $1 billion shortfall should Nextel’s contribution be capped.