800 MHz rebanding runs for the border
More than four years after the initial 800 MHz rebanding schedule was unveiled to public-safety agencies, an international agreement that would allow such agencies along the U.S./Mexico border to reconfigure is several months away, an official for the 800 MHz Transition Administrator said.
“If things go well, then we could see something out of the commission perhaps late second quarter or early third quarter, but there’s a lot that has to fall in place for that [to happen],” said TA representative Joe Boyer, who added that addressing the matter is “perhaps the top priority” of the FCC’s public-safety and homeland security bureau.
A U.S./Canada agreement reached last summer means that rebanding work along the Canadian border is expected to begin in earnest this spring and summer, but NPSPAC licensees along the U.S./Mexico border need a deal between the two countries to commence 800 MHz rebanding work.
In the meantime, the estimated 200 licensees that will be affected by a U.S./Mexico agreement should ensure that their FCC licenses are up to date, that the TA has the proper contact information and that any planning work not requiring knowledge of the eventual frequency plan is pursued, Boyer said.
In other news, Sprint Nextel said last month in a report to the FCC’s public safety and homeland security bureau that 315 of the roughly 900 public-safety licensees in the band are operating on new frequencies after completing rebanding work, compared with 265 licensees reported in October to have completed their reconfiguration. Moreover, one out of five NPSPAC licensees still remains without a rebanding agreement with the wireless operator.
However, Sprint Nextel noted that 97% of licensees in Channels 1-120 — the frequencies where NPSPAC licensees are scheduled to be relocated — have completed their rebanding efforts.
Also, BearingPoint, the consulting company that is leading the TA’s project management of the 800 MHz rebanding efforts, announced that its U.S. operation has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as part of a financial restructuring deal with its senior secured lenders.
FCC spokesman Rob Kenny said the agency has spoken with BearingPoint representatives about the matter to determine any potential impact on 800 MHz rebanding.
“In those discussions, BearingPoint has indicated that they don’t expect any disruptions to the process, but we’re going to closely monitor the situation to ensure that things are going smoothly,” Kenny said.
The subject of BearingPoint’s financial status and its relationship to rebanding was addressed during last month’s Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Winter Summit in Orlando. During the session, moderator Alan Tilles — a partner in the law firm of Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker who represents numerous 800 MHz licensees — asked whether the TA could continue to operate if BearingPoint has problems. TA attorney Robert Kelly replied that he does not believe it is something public-safety licensees need to worry about.
BearingPoint representatives have not returned multiple calls asking for comment.