800 MHz order published in Federal Register
More than three months after being approved by the FCC, the agency’s order calling for Nextel Communications to contribute $4.8 billion worth of cash and spectrum to reband 800 MHz users was published yesterday in the Federal Register, which started the clock on Nextel’s decision-making timetable.
Under revisions to the order approved last month, Nextel must decide whether it will pay for rebanding within 75 days after the item is published in the Federal Register—Feb. 7, 2005.
“We’re pleased that the process is moving forward, and this is the next step,” Nextel spokeswoman Leigh Horner said.
Most analysts believe Nextel will agree to the terms of the FCC order because the wireless carrier needs the contiguous spectrum at 800 MHz and 1.9 GHz it would receive through rebanding to offer advanced wireless services.
In the wake of a settlement with rival Verizon Wireless and a favorable opinion from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), legal issues are not expected to be a problem. In addition, Nextel will know by Dec. 22 whether anyone will seek judicial review of the FCC’s order, according to an FCC spokesman.
If there are no legal challenges, the biggest remaining questions for Nextel revolve around the carrier’s requested changes to the order.
In conjunction with the original order being published in the Federal Register, the FCC requested comments on a series of proposed alterations, the most notable being a $400 million reduction in the minimum amount of cash Nextel would have to pay for rebanding. Nextel has asserted that the FCC erred when calculating the value of the spectrum the wireless carrier would contribute under the order.
Comments on the possible changes are due on Dec. 2, and the FCC can choose to act any time after that date.
Horner declined to speculate when Nextel might announce its decision but acknowledged that the carrier is interested to “see what the FCC will do” with the proposed changes.