Licensees of LMR networks operating at 800 MHz near the U.S.-Mexico border can begin rebanding their system after the two countries reached a spectrum-sharing agreement for the 800 MHz band, as well as a separate deal for spectrum sharing of 1.9 GHz airwaves.
There are lessons to be learned from the rebanding experience that should be avoided as the federal government embarks on a similarly challenging engineering project — the deployment of a nationwide public-safety broadband network using LTE in the 700 MHz band.
Like many public-safety communications officials today, Felix Perez is a busy man. As the director of Miami-Dade County’s radio communications information division, he’s in charge of maintaining the existing 800 MHz LMR system, overseeing the rollout of a new P25 system and testing on a new 700 MHz LTE pilot project.
The FCC issued a three-month extension for affected 800 MHz licensees to take their first tangible steps toward rebanding their LMR networks. Such extensions have been approved regularly for years by the FCC, which has no control over the timetable for the U.S. and Mexico to reach a treaty agreement.
Wireless carrier Sprint Nextel spent $1.8 billion on spectrum reconfiguration related to 800 MHz rebanding through 2008 and projects it will spend $3.2 billion to $3.6 billion by the time the massive effort is complete, the company said in an annual regulatory filing released last week.
Officials for two 800 MHz public-safety licensees in Florida expressed frustration with slowdowns in their respective rebanding efforts caused by interoperability agreements and a lengthy change-order process during a panel at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Winter Summit in Orlando last week