WASHINGTON-Nextel Communications Inc. reportedly has begun negotiations with the incumbent licensees in the 800 MHz band to move them off the network in order for Nextel build out its own telecommunications system more quickly.
The Federal Communications Commission has yet to release the relocation public notice, but it is expected shortly. This public notice officially will start the clock to move and build out the specialized mobile radio systems envisioned for the 800 MHz band.
The public notice is expected to be released once all licenses in the upper 800 MHz band are granted, which the FCC is in the process of doing.
Relocation became necessary because previous licenses in the upper 800 MHz band were site-specific, but recent auction winners were granted licenses for larger geographic areas. These geographic license holders now have the right to move site-specific license holders to the lower 800 MHz band. Relocation could be costly because site-specific license holders may require new equipment and other expenditures before a move is acceptable to them. Additionally, site-specific license holders are expected to require the same capacity as they currently have.
Winners in the 800 MHz auction-most notably Nextel-have 90 days from the release of the notice to announce to incumbents they intend to relocate them to the lower band. If they do not issue the notifications within that time frame, they lose the ability to move the site-specific license holders.
The public notice also will start the clock on a one-year voluntary negotiation period. Following the one-year negotiation period, a one-year mandatory negotiation period will occur. During this second year, the FCC expects both parties to negotiate in good faith toward an acceptable relocation solution. The FCC strongly has encouraged the incumbents and the auction winners to resolve all relocations in the first two years to keep regulators out of the process. If negotiations fail, the parties are expected to seek an alternative resolution process, such as mediation or binding arbitration by an independent third party, before demanding FCC action.