APCO: FCC ‘turning up the heat’ on rebanding, panelist says
BALTIMORE–Licensees still struggling to reach 800 MHz rebanding agreements with Sprint Nextel should get some help soon from the FCC, but it won’t be in the form of an extension of time beyond the June 2009 deadline to complete the process, an FCC official said yesterday during a panel at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) conference.
Dana Shaffer, deputy bureau chief for the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB), reiterated the message issued earlier in the week by Chairman Kevin Martin and PSHSB Chief Derek Poarch that the timeline for rebanding will not be changed.
“That’s not to say we won’t work with public safety, particularly in some of the unique circumstances that are going to be very difficult and are going to take time, but please do not count on a blanket extension,” Shaffer said. “We are moving forward, we are turning up the heat, we are issuing the orders that we needed to clarify issues that will help with negotiations and avoid mediation. We are willing to roll up our sleeves … with specific cases to help clear the roadblocks.”
To help speed the process, there will be “a number of changes,” Shaffer said. In the “near future” the PSHSB will issue a public notice designed to ensure that the Transition Administrator and mediators “are not bringing the same issue back to us over and over and over,” she said.
In response to an audience member’s concern that Sprint Nextel has appealed almost so many mediation fundings to the FCC, Shaffer said a similar philosophy would be applied to the wireless carrier that must fund the rebanding process.
“As those are rolled out and that precedent is set, you won’t see Sprint come back on the same issues. As our chief says when someone issues you an order and they tell you what to do, then you get asked the same question again: ‘Well, I already gave you what’s called a clue,’” she said. “You will be seeing things rolled out that should make things go more quickly, so just stay tuned.”
Shaffer said the FCC has received favorable response from its May ruling that clarifying the cost standard has helped some negotiation proceed.
Meanwhile, many licensees in Wave 4 cannot be rebanded until the U.S. reaches border treaties with Canada and Mexico. FCC representatives are meeting with officials from Canada and Mexico in an effort to establish mutually acceptable for the border regions, Shaffer said.
“We are making progress, particularly on the Canadian border issues,” Shaffer said. “We should see some movement in a matter of months.”