Rebanding must involve everyone
By now you’ve probably read media reports that Bob Foosaner, vice president at Sprint Nextel, suggested a two-year extension of the current deadline for the completion of 800 MHz rebanding.
Bob’s comments are fairly consistent with my widely reported statement at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) panel session at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials’ annual conference in August that “no one in this room believes that rebanding will be completed in 36 months.” Where we differ is the placement of blame.
The media reports I’ve seen basically depict Bob blaming public-safety agencies for not being diligent in getting their cost estimates and related information completed.
I certainly agree that there are far too many public-safety agencies that believe if they ignore it, it will go away. However, there is plenty of blame to go around. There are many public-safety agencies that have been fully engaged and ready to roll, but other players in this complicated dance have delayed a successful outcome.
In many cases, the FCC’s delay in making decisions on crucial issues still pending before the agency has precluded negotiations from continuing. The agency has had various important reconsiderations on their desks since last December. As I said at the APCO meeting, without the FCC’s cooperation, we cannot go forward in far too many cases.
The Canadian and Mexican border regions are a prime example. If deals aren’t cut immediately, you can forget about Wave 4 being done by the original deadline. Don’t even continue to play the game of pretending anymore.
In other cases, unreasonable cost estimates from consultants (including attorneys) have delayed the completion of negotiations. Delays in receiving a response from the Transition Administrator, or a TA decision that must be appealed, sometimes impact the process.
More important, Sprint Nextel itself is not without blame. As of this writing, there are still some fundamental differences concerning replacement equipment that must be resolved before a number of NPSPAC negotiations can move forward (and there are some other Sprint Nextel issues, too).
One of my concerns for many months is the continuing delays at the beginning of negotiations, but no extension on the backend for completion of the work. Deadlines were extended while the TA got up to speed on rebanding (which we then, in some cases, had to correct), the manufacturers and Sprint Nextel fought over equipment issues and licensees were educated. In my view, this compression of time is causing a significant fraying of nerves on all sides and creating a strain on resources.
Now that I’ve made every portion of the industry angry, let’s look at how to move forward. We need realistic deadlines for completion, but we also need licensees to stop viewing an extension as another reason to delay getting started. We need a fully engaged FCC, and we need to make sure that any extension is not an avenue for Sprint Nextel to merely complete 1-120 rebanding and then decide to “walk the deal” and not reband NPSPAC. In other words, we all must cooperate and move forward expeditiously.
Alan Tilles is counsel to numerous entities in the private radio and Internet industries. He is a partner in the law firm of Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker and can be reached at email@example.com.
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