FCC grants rebanding waivers
The FCC gave Sprint Nextel an expected waiver from completing rebanding as originally scheduled for June 26. Meanwhile, the wireless carrier asked the commission to relieve it from a deadline regarding other 800 MHz frequencies that a federal court recently upheld.
The FCC also granted 504 waivers to National Public Safety Planning Advisory Committee (NPSPAC) licensees seeking relief from the commission’s original rebanding deadline. These waivers — which extend the deadline to complete rebanding in most cases to July 1, 2009 — addressed the requests of most NPSPAC licensees not located near the Canadian or Mexican borders.
The FCC granted Sprint Nextel’s waiver request that the carrier be allowed to operate its iDEN network on Channels 1-120 spectrum until NPSPAC licensees in the region are ready to retune their systems. Upon the NPSPAC licensee’s request, Sprint Nextel must vacate the spectrum within 60 days — something the carrier has promised to do for several months.
Sprint Nextel also asked the FCC for some relief from a commission ruling last fall that required the carrier to vacate its interleaved channels by June 26. Sprint Nextel proposed that that FCC allow it to vacate the interleaved channels in stages, based on the percentage of NPSPAC licensees that have completed rebanding.
“The more reconfiguration advances, the more interleaved spectrum we would give up,” Sprint Nextel spokesman Scott Sloat said.
Under the Sprint Nextel proposal, the carrier would clear 20 channels in its interleaved spectrum immediately, then clear 40 more channels in a region when 25% of the NPSPAC licensees have rebanded and clear another 60 channels when 50% of the NPSPAC licensees have rebanded. Sprint Nextel would vacate an additional 80 channels when 75% and 90% thresholds are reached, and the carrier would clear all interleaved channels after all NPSPAC licensees have completed the rebanding process.
The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the International Association of Fire Chiefs stated in a joint letter to the FCC that they did not object to Sprint Nextel’s proposal, but included a notable caveat: that the carrier vacate all of its interleaved channels within 60 days of a public-safety agency being prepared to operate on the spectrum after July 1, 2009.