CTIA Moves Against Nextel In 800MHz Relocation Issue

For a while now, I’ve been regularly covering the political dance around the problem of Nextel causing interference with Public Safety (Fire, Police, etc.) radios in the 800MHz band. It seems that when a cop is close to a Nextel tower, his radio equipment may not work, and eventually this may cost lives. Nextel offered a solution that trades their 800MHz slot for one at 1900MHz, and they would throw in $800M as well. However, all the other carriers know that Nextel wants that 1900 spectrum, so they are trying to block the proposal. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the industry association, the CTIA, is standing on the side that includes all of its members except Nextel, and the CTIA has formed a proposal where Nextel would pay $3B and get less desirable spectrum at 2100MHz instead of 1900. The CTIA proposal also suggests that the Nextel swap from 800 to 2100 take place on a region-by-region basis, which would eliminate the scale benefits of a national swap, and further cause costs to Nextel. The Associations of Public Safety organizations in general back the Nextel plan, because they believe that with Nextel’s support, it is the plan most likely to be implemented swiftly. They don’t care about whether Nextel gets a windfall in the mobile industry, they just want the firefighters to have working radio when a building is burning next to a Nextel tower. I think the CTIA should have stayed out of this one, since it is divisive, and let the various carriers fight against Nextel at the FCC if they so choose. Sorry Nextel… if you want the pledge, “All for one and one for all”, you should have joined the Musketeers, not the CTIA.

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