FCC approves Nextel spectrum swap

Jul 08 2004 - 12:30 PM ET | Nextel
The FCC has voted to approve a spectrum swap for Nextel to keep emergency radio spectrum clean from interference. We let you know that it was likely to be approved, as late as yesterday. bq. The decision by the Federal Communications Commission would give Nextel Communications highly sought airwaves in a band that won't disrupt the radio communications of emergency officials. In exchange, Nextel will abandon some of its airwaves in the 800 megahertz range, where the company's cell phones are causing interference. Nextel pust pay $2.5 billion to make the switch, but that won't be enough to satisfy Verizon Wireless. Verizon was very vocal in stating that the spectrum is worth much more and is "a gift" to Nextel. Verizon said it would pay as much as $5-7 billion. Verizon Wireless' full statement follows below. Verizon Wireless Statement on FCC Decision to Award Multi-Billion Dollar Windfall to Nextel In a Bizarre Decision, Company That Causes Interference to Police Communications is Rewarded Handsomely by the Federal Government The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today announced its preferred way to eliminate interference caused by Nextel to public safety communications: a spectrum give-away worth billions of dollars in lost revenue to the U.S. Treasury. Bypassing both Congress and the FCC's own spectrum auction process, and conferring a multi- billion dollar windfall on Nextel at taxpayer expense, Commissioners took the bizarre step of rewarding Nextel, which acknowledges that its operations cause interference to police, fire department and other public safety communications. Verizon Wireless issued the following statement: "The FCC has failed to provide a lawful solution to the challenge presented by Nextel's interference with communications vital to the nation's first responders. Now Congress must step in to fix this mess. Only Congress has the Constitutional authority to spend taxpayer dollars. Instead of seeking a lawful appropriation from Congress to finance the work of untangling public safety's frequencies from Nextel's interference, the FCC has pushed ahead, while serious legal questions raised by senior Congressional leaders remain unanswered. Has the FCC financed this project illegally by bypassing both the Congress and the auction process? Is the award of billions of dollars worth of prime spectrum to a private commercial service provider prohibited by federal law? "As the GAO investigates the legality of Nextel's spectrum windfall and Members of Congress continue to express deep concern about the loss of billions of dollars to the U.S. Treasury, taxpayers and first responders would have been far better served if the FCC had allowed the GAO and Congress to assess the legality of the Nextel spectrum grab before approving it."