800 MHz Rebanding Deadlines, Sprint True-Up Deadline Pushed Back (6/29/12)
The FCC extended the voluntary negotiation period for Wave 4 Stage 1 and 2 licensees in the U.S.-Mexico border, and postponed the beginning of the mediation period for the licensees until the FCC establishes a mandatory negotiation and timetable.
Officials from Mexico and the United States signed a new protocol for the 800 MHz band along the U.S.-Mexico border June 8. The FCC said it intends to release a notice of proposed rulemaking seeking comment on a post-rebanding channel plan based on the new protocol. In that document, the commission will also seek comment on planning, mandatory negotiation and mediation timelines for licensees along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Accordingly, extending the voluntary negotiation period for these licensees will alleviate administrative burdens on licensees, avoid unnecessary rebanding expenditures, and provide additional time for resolution of border issues and issuance of frequency designations by the 800 MHz Transition Administrator (TA).
During the extended voluntary negotiation period, Wave 4 licensees in the U.S.-Mexico border region are not required to engage in planning or mandatory negotiation prior to the receipt of frequency designations from the TA.
Separately, the FCC again postponed the 800 MHz rebanding financial reconciliation “true-up” date until Dec. 31, 2012. The FCC order requires the TA to file a report by Nov. 15, with its recommendation on whether the true-up date should be further postponed.
The TA indicated that, despite additional progress in rebanding since the last extension, Sprint Nextel has still not incurred sufficient rebanding expenditures to warrant moving forward with the true-up.
“While the broadcast auxiliary service (BAS) relocation is now complete and substantial progress has been made in 800 MHz rebanding, a substantial number of licensees have to complete the process,” said the FCC order. “Therefore, we conclude that a true-up of Sprint’s rebanding expenditures as of July 2 would be premature because it would fail to take into account a large portion of Sprint’s eventual cost obligation.”
The FCC established the true-up in the 800 MHz report and order to assess the total creditable rebanding costs incurred by Sprint Nextel for both 800 MHz rebanding and relocating BAS licensees in the 1.9 GHz band. The process will compare these costs to the value of the 1.9 GHz spectrum that the FCC awarded to Sprint. If the true-up shows that the value of the 1.9 GHz spectrum exceeds Sprint’s combined 800 MHz and BAS relocation costs, Sprint must pay the difference in an “anti-windfall” payment to the U.S. Treasury.
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