800 MHz decision scheduled for Thursday
The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to issue an order in the two-year-old proceeding to abate interference issues in the 800 MHz band during its regular monthly meeting on Thursday.
The 800 MHz item is expected to call for rebanding of operators in the frequencies to alleviate well-documented interference to public-safety communications caused by interleaved spectrum shared by public-safety groups and Nextel Communications. With rebanding, public safety and Nextel would operate on contiguous airwaves that are much less susceptible to interference.
Nextel would supply additional spectrum to public safety. In return, Nextel reportedly will receive 10 MHz of 1.9 GHz spectrum, although that award is expected to be challenged in court. Nextel also is expected to make a cash contribution to cover the cost of rebanding, but analysts’ estimates on the amount vary widely, from $850 million to more than $3 billion.
In addition, some legal concerns have been raised recently regarding the FCC’s ability to oversee Nextel making payments for rebanding. Although most analysts believe speculation about commissioners being criminally liable for approving such a plan is not realistic, there is a very real possibility that a legal challenge could overturn the rebanding process.