TA urges more involvement
One week after the original negotiation deadline for Wave 1 NPSPAC licensees to sign 800 MHz rebanding agreements, only 5% of the deals were done, and the Transition Administrator had not heard from more than half of the affected licensees.
Of the 424 public-safety licensees in Wave 1, only 20 had signed a rebanding agreement as of Aug. 7, TA Director Brett Haan said during a session held during last month’s Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) conference in Orlando. While a low number of completed deals at this point was anticipated by many, the fact the TA had not received responses from more than half of the Wave 1 NPSPAC licensees received the most attention.
“Right now, we have 231 licensees who are not in active negotiations … [and] are not calling,” Haan said. “That, frankly, is a concern.”
At the moment, no public-safety licensees have missed a deadline because the FCC granted a three-month extension earlier this year. While noting that licensee representatives attending the APCO session likely are participating appropriately in the rebanding process, Haan asked them to urge their cohorts to become engaged in the effort.
“If that extension had not been granted by the FCC, you would be in mediation right now,” Haan said. “This is your additional three months. Let’s use it.”
Robert Gurss, APCO’s director of legal and government affairs, said one of problems is that some public-safety licensees — often busy with other tasks — are receiving proposals from third-party vendors and submitting them to Sprint Nextel with little or no review to determine whether they are necessary and appropriately priced. Although getting these licensees to become more engaged is a priority, many who have participated actively have been unable to reach agreements because of difficulties with one of the other parties in the process.
“I share Brett’s concern that many licensees have not been engaged … but there are a lot of people who are working their butts off and are frustrated,” Gurss said.
On a more encouraging note, Channel 1-120 licensees — those occupying the spectrum where public-safety licensees will reside after rebanding — are being cleared rapidly, said Sandy Edwards, Sprint Nextel’s vice president for spectrum resources (see column on page 28). Rebanding agreements have been signed with virtually all of the Wave 1 and Wave 2 licensees, and significant progress is being made in Wave 3.
Even with the slow pace of rebanding agreements signed with Wave 1 NPSPAC licensees, Edwards said he believes the job can be completed.
“It’s not an insurmountable number [of Wave 1 contracts that need to be signed], but it’s going to take a lot of hard work on everyone’s part to get it done,” Edwards said. “It’s a team effort.”
The good, the bad and the ugly
Rebanding snapshot as of Aug. 7
Deals have been cut with virtually all Channel 1-120 licensees in Wave 1 and Wave 2, and significant progress has been made to actually clear the spectrum for NPSPAC licensees.
Only 20 of 424 NPSPAC licensees in Wave 1 had signed deals, even though the original deadline for conducting mandatory negotiations had passed.
Transition Administrator officials have not heard from 231 NPSPAC licensees, raising serious questions as to whether they can reach a rebanding agreement before mediation begins on Nov. 1.
Sources: Transition Administrator, Sprint Nextel