Nextel's Frequency Two-Step

We have looked in the past at the story of how some of Nextel’s spectrum interferes with police, fire, and rescue radios, and how Nextel is proposing a swap where it will free up the spectrum around 800MHz in exchange for some spectrum at 1900MHz. Nextel has even offered to pay up to $850M to re-tune emergency radios if the swap goes through. So why would Nextel want to give up prime 850MHz spectrum for shorter-range 1900Mhz, and pay cash? Well, Nextel is also spectrum-constrained and iDEN has no network evolution to 3G. Nextel has extended the life of iDEN by installing a 6x vocoder to further compress voice traffic, but will eventually need a valid 3G migration strategy. To that end, there have been some quiet deals wherein Nextel has essentially chosen Qualcomm CDMA2000 3G. Unfortunately, cheap US EV-DO or EV-DV handsets will only be produced in volume for 1900MHz, so therein lies one motive for swapping frequencies – cheaper 3G equipment. At 1900, they could also access roaming with Sprint, Verizon, Alltel, or USCellular to fill out their coverage.

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