Verizon Wireless drops opposition to 800 MHz rebanding
Verizon Wireless and Nextel Communications today jointly announced that the two companies have agreed to dismiss their respective lawsuits against each other. As part of the agreement, Verizon Wireless has agreed to drop its opposition to the FCC’s 800 MHz rebanding order.
The order requires Nextel to reband the 800 MHz airwaves to solve interference problems that plague first responder communications across the country. The order requires Nextel to pay at least $3.2 billion to reband all users in the 800 MHz band and contribute 8.5 MHz of spectrum—valued at $1.6 billion—to public safety in the 700 MHz and 800 MHz bands. In return, Nextel would receive contiguous spectrum in the 800 MHz and 1.9 GHz bands.
Verizon Wireless had contested the award of the 1.9 GHz airwaves, stating that telecom law requires that spectrum be awarded only via an auction. The FCC had maintained it was within its jurisdiction because the commission was amending Nextel’s current license. The U.S. Government Accountability Office is reviewing the matter at the request of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., though it is not conducting an official investigation. Rather, it is researching the situation for purposes of issuing a legal opinion, according to Susan Poling, the GAO’s managing associate general counsel.
The agreement announced today also results in Nextel dropping its trademark claims regarding the phrases “push to talk,” “PTT” and any other variant involving the word “push.” Both companies now will be free to use those phrases in their respective marketing campaigns.
The agreement also releases each party from all other existing claims. In June, 2003, Verizon had sued Nextel in federal district court alleging that Nextel gained unauthorized possession of two prototype Verizon push-to-talk handsets and confidential performance-related information that Nextel leaked to at least one telecommunications industry analyst in the hope of discrediting Verizon’s effort. At the time, Nextel said it was “baffled” by the allegation and characterized the litigation as being “completely without merit.”