Nextel today formally accepted the FCC Report & Order (pdf) to eliminate public safety radio interference at 800 MHz (WT Docket 02-55) by swapping frequencies and paying for costs related to moving incumbant public service users. With Nextel’s acceptance, the implementation phase of reconfiguration begins immediately.
Interference at 800 MHz is caused by commercial wireless carriers operating adjacent to public safety licensees. Because the FCC allowed Nextel to provide service in channels immediately adjacent to police and fire radios, it has caused interference around the country. The phenomena, first discovered by Joe Kuran, of the Washington County Coordinated Communications Agency, was then dismissed by the FCC as inconsequential.
The Consensus Plan, largely adopted by the FCC, swaps Nextel’s frequencies (adjacent to public service frequencies), for a block in the 800 and 1.9 GHz band. It give back many of Nextel’s 700, 800, and 900 Mhz frequencies to public service users in exchange for 10 Mhz at 1.9 Ghz. It also consolidates their existing 800 Mhz into a non-interfering section of spectrum. Nextel (and the new Nextel-Sprint merger), may now be able to provide voice and data services for current users (at 800 Mhz), as well as future 3G services (at 1.9 GHz) and 4G services (at 2.5GHz).
The Nextel Spectrum Swap
Under the agreement, public service agencies will gain use of the 700 and 800 Mhz bands currently operated by Nextel that were causing interference. Nextel will exchange 16 megahertz of spectrum spread around the 700 MHz, 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands for 6 megahertz in the 800 MHz band and 10 megahertz in the 1.9 GHz band. Nextel will then have 16 megahertz of contiguous spectrum in the 800 MHz band, on which the carrier could continue to offer its voice service, and 10 megahertz in the 1.9 GHz band to offer “3G” services in the future. Nextel would then have a total of 26MHz, about what it has now, but allocated differently to avoid interference and consolidate their spectrum bands in 800 Mhz and 1.9Mhz.
The move will be completed over 42 months. The first nine months will be dedicated to frequency planning and data collection. The movement of the largest public safety systems would occur in the final stages.
The FCC credited Nextel $2 billion for the old 800 Mhz spectrum it was giving up and applied it toward the price Nextel would pay for the new spectrum at 1.9GHz. Nextel agreed to pay about $1.3 billion for relocating public safety groups and will pay the government about $1.5 billion for the new spectrum.
Verizon threatened to sue FCC commissioners personally over the Consensus swap, and said they’d pay up to $5 billion for the spectrum. In the end, Verizon went along. Nextel, after all, is not receiving additional spectrum. They’re swapping it, giving up chunks of valuable 800 Mhz spectrum. In exchange they get 10 Mhz in the 1.9 GHz PCS band. The interference was caused, in large part, by the FCC’s own ruling.
This deal is completely separate and independent of Nextel’s other spectrum resource; the 2.5 MMDS band (above). That licensed band could enable Nextel to offer “4G” services — like those enabled by WiMax and Flarion. Sprint plans to trial WiMax service. Public safety broadband, for example, might be backboned with Sprint fiber (or a cable deal).
Some industry observers speculate that a Sprint-Nextel broadband wireless service will be offered to cable providers, first as a cellular service, then as a mobile WiMax service.
Related DailyWireless stories include; Sprint/Nextel to Merge, Sprint-tel: Done Deal?, Sprint + Nextel = Cable?, Sprint Talks Up WiMax, Nextel Gets Spectrum Credit, Flarion Lights Flexbeam, Consensus Decision in Nextel’s Court, FCC: Nextel Gets PCS Spectrum, Consensus Plan From FCC?, Consensus Plan Near?, Freq Consensus?, Localizing Consensus Plans, Nextel’s Consensus Move, Nextel Gets 2.1 & 2.5 GHz, 800 MHz Spectrum Swap Near?, WiFi Vrs WiMax, Will 802.20 Challenge WiMax?, Nextel’s Flarion Goes Live, WiFi Cable Phones, Sprint + Lucent for EV-DO, Consensus Decision in Nextel’s Court, FCC: Nextel Gets PCS Spectrum, Nextel Gets 2.1 & 2.5 GHz, 4G Clouds in the United States, WiFi Vrs WiMax, Nextel Adds Priority Service, Cingular/AT&T Merger Approved, 3G in Dallas & San Diego, Cellular VoIP?, Sprint Plans National EV-DO Service, Cingular 3G Details and Cellular At The Races.