FCC seeks comment on possible changes to 800 MHz order
The FCC has asked interested parties to comment on the abundant number of ex partes filed in the 800 MHz rebanding order, including Nextel Communications’ request to alter the amount of money it would pay in the rebanding process.
Under the order approved in July, Nextel would be required to contribute $4.8 billion in assets–$3.2 billion in cash and $1.6 billion in spectrum–to pay for rebanding to alleviate interference with public-safety communications operating at the frequencies in return for contiguous spectrum blocks in the 800 MHz and 1.9 GHz bands.
Nextel said in September that it discovered an error in the calculations the FCC used to determine the value of the spectrum it would contribute to the process and asked the agency to credit it an additional $452 million to $740 million, thereby reducing its minimum cash outlay by that amount.
In addition to the spectrum-valuation question, comments are being requested on a host of other items associated with the controversial order, including the mechanics of the rebanding process and short-term interference issues.
“We’re pleased that they’re putting it out and continuing to move the process forward,” Nextel spokeswoman Leigh Horner said. “This is very important for public safety.”
While some observers said the FCC could make such a change administratively, others said such changes would require further comment and an additional vote by the commission. FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy has said she believes the commission should vote again if it decides to alter Nextel’s payment amount.
An FCC spokeswoman said the agency is hopeful the order–released in August after being approved unanimously in July–will be published in the Federal Register before the end of the month and that publication of the request for further comment would occur shortly thereafter. The latest round of comments must be submitted within 10 days of the comment request being published in the Federal Register.