Nextel agrees to spectrum swap plan

Feb 07 2005 - 02:32 PM ET | Nextel
Nextel today agreed to a proposal from the FCC to swap some of its spectrum for new space in the 1.9 Gigahertz band. The deal was controversial because Nextel will make out like a bandit: bq. Under the plan it [Nextel] is expected to return over $2 billion worth of spectrum and receive airwaves valued at about $4.8 billion. The FCC was motivated to get the deal done because emergency radio communications were being interferred with by Nextel's network. We have covered this story many times in the past. Nextel's full statement is available below, it offers a nice background on the problem. Nextel Stands with Public Safety and Accepts FCC Order to Facilitate Interference-Free Communications for First Responders; Spectrum Reconfiguration to Begin Immediately Nextel Communications Inc. today formally accepted the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Report & Order to eliminate CMRS-public safety radio interference at 800 MHz (WT Docket 02-55, Improving Public Safety Communications in the 800 MHz Band). In this Order, the FCC has made clear and reliable communications possible for first responders and, with Nextel's acceptance, the implementation phase of reconfiguration begins immediately. Commenting on this decision, Nextel President and Chief Executive Officer Tim Donahue said, "Solving public safety interference and securing additional spectrum have been long-standing priorities for first responders, and we're pleased to stand with the men and women who protect America's communities. Nextel will begin the realignment process immediately and looks forward to continue working with the FCC, the Transition Administrator team, the public safety community, and all others involved in the reconfiguration process to complete the implementation." 800 MHz radio interference, caused by commercial wireless carriers operating adjacent to public safety licensees, has been affecting first responders around the country for more than five years. Reconfiguring the 800 MHz spectrum will reorganize the spectrum holdings within the band separating public safety from commercial licensees, thereby virtually eliminating CMRS-public safety radio interference in the 800 MHz band. Through this effort, public safety also will gain much-needed additional spectrum to facilitate future communications needs. The foundation of the FCC's Order reflects the hard work of an innovative public-private partnership among leading public safety agencies including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, International Association of Fire Chiefs, Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, International Municipal Signal Association, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Major County Sheriff's Association and the Fraternal Order of Police; private wireless organizations; private citizens and Nextel. Donahue added, "Nextel is, and always will remain, committed to the needs of the public safety community and this initiative ensures that public safety's needs are met. We are fully dedicated to doing what is necessary and within our power to ensure the smooth, efficient and effective implementation of reconfiguration."