U.S., Mexico agree to border area spectrum plan; clears path for Sprint Nextel 1.9 GHz use


The United States and Mexico signed a pair of protocols for sharing spectrum in the 800 MHz and 1.9 GHz bands along the U.S.-Mexico border associated with rebanding efforts in the 800 MHz band. The Federal Communications Commission noted the agreements were the beginning of the final phase of those rebanding efforts and will allow for the rollout of public safety mobile broadband services across the area.

“These agreements with Mexico will unleash investment and benefit consumers near the borders by
enabling the rollout of advanced wireless broadband service and advanced systems for critical public
safety and emergency response communications,” noted FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, in a statement.

The agreements cover an area approximately 68 miles within each country’s common border area.

The rebanding efforts are also connected with Sprint Nextel’s move to realign its spectrum assets in the 800 MHz band that will result in the carrier having access to 14 megahertz of contiguous spectrum as well as access to 10 megahertz of spectrum in the G-Block of the 1.9 GHz band that it plans to use for the initial rollout of its LTE services. As part of those efforts, Sprint Nextel gave up some of its 800 MHz spectrum holdings to public safety.

The FCC released an order last month reducing “barriers to the deployment of broadband, encourages investment in wireless technologies, and facilitates the efficient use of spectrum by revising a burdensome legacy regulation that unnecessarily constrained 800 MHz Specialized Mobile Radio licensees.”

Sprint Nextel noted the decision cleared the way for the eventual deployment of 3G and LTE services in the 800 MHz band. The carrier is currently using that spectrum to support its iDEN services that it recently reported it would shut down by the end of next year. Sprint Nextel is actively looking to deploy CDMA-based voice services in that band with plans to expand LTE services once iDEN customers are migrated.

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Dan Meyer

Editor-in-Chief, Telecom Software, Policy, Wireless Carriers
Dan Meyer started at RCR Wireless News in 1999 covering wireless carriers and wireless technologies. As editor-in-chief, Dan oversees editorial direction, reports on news from the wireless industry, including telecom software, policy and wireless carriers, and provides opinion stories on topics of concern to the market such as his popular Friday column “Worst of the Week.”