Verizon Wireless questions Nextel, FCC discussions
Attorneys for Verizon Wireless this week said the carrier is “deeply concerned” by a Legg Mason report that suggested the Federal Communications Commission and Nextel Communications have held discussions to significantly reduce the amount Nextel would pay to the U.S. Treasury as a result of the FCC’s order issued last month that calls for Nextel to reband 800 MHz airwaves. The rebanding is necessary because interference caused primarily by Nextel is adversely affecting public-safety radio communications nationwide.
In a letter to FCC Chairman Michael Powell, Verizon Wireless’s attorneys said Legg Mason’s report indicated Nextel has questioned the FCC’s valuation of the 800 MHz the carrier is relinquishing under the order. The report also stated that a recalculation could result in a $600 million to $700 million payment into the U.S. Treasury. The FCC’s order as it stands calls Nextel to contribute at least $4.8 billion in cash and spectrum to enable rebanding of 800 MHz spectrum.
An FCC spokesman declined comment, saying the commission doesn’t respond to allegations made against it.
Nextel spokesman Tim O’Regan acknowledged that the carrier has been in discussions with the FCC and has filed ex parte comments with the commission, but said neither party has acted inappropriately. “The information in those ex partes is commensurate with what has been discussed with the FCC in those meetings. We believe the information in the ex partes is entirely appropriate,” said O’Regan, who declined to comment on the Legg Mason report.
In a filing dated September 16, Nextel said it had provided evidence in a previous filing that it holds nationwide licenses for the General Category and Lower 80 interleaved SMR channels, but that the FCC’s calculation of the 800 MHz spectrum the carrier would give up “appears to be inconsistent with that information.” Nextel further said it would respond to a Wireless Telecommunications Bureau staff request to provide “updated and detailed analysis” of the 800 MHz spectrum it would relinquish and anticipated doing so by early next week.
With reporting by Donny Jackson.