According to a US Federal Communications Commission official, a three-year project originally planned to be completed more than a decade ago, the 800 MHz band reuse plan is nearing completion and may be completed next year. A large-scale re-launch work was funded.
Michael Wilhelm, head of policy and licensing at the Federal Communications Commission's Public Safety and Homeland Security Agency (PSHSB), said rebinding involves band reorganization involving tens of thousands of base stations owned by more than 2,171 licensees. He said that as of last month, only 25 base stations in the US-Mexico border area needed to be completed.
"This is very close to completion - we are on the last lap," Wilhelm said at the annual FCC Regulatory Group meeting of the APCO 2019 annual event in Baltimore. "We hope that by this time next year, maybe I or David [Furth, deputy director of the US Federal Communications Commission for Public Safety and Homeland Security] can sit in this group and say that the 800 MHz renovation is history."
In 2004, members of the US Federal Communications Commission reached an agreement with mobile operator Nextel Communications to fund all costs associated with rebinding, including the conversion of interleaved LMR and Nextel iDEN channels into a contiguous spectrum band of the 800 MHz band. Wilhelm said that the main goal of a large-scale engineering program - reducing interference between cells and LMR signals - seems to have been met.
"The most important fact is that when we complete the rebinding, we can look at the sites used to report interference from cellular and Sprint and find that the number of complaints has been reduced to very, very small quantities," Wilhelm said. “In other words, what we started doing in 2002 [when we officially proposed the concept of the 800 MHz band in the Federal Communications Commission, we have done it successfully, and we did it successfully when we were drawing a moving train.
“In this regard, I mean, although the radio is being reorganized, they must continue to operate and serve the first responders. This is a daunting task involving some very clever technical solutions, and some Some hard work of very skilled engineers."
Although the US Federal Communications Commission reached a re-expansion agreement with Nextel Communications in the 800 MHz band in 2004, the mobile phone operator merged with Sprint the following year, so Sprint accepted the obligation to fund re-operation for all 800 MHz bands. The work was originally scheduled to begin in 2005 and in 2008.
However, numerous problems have arisen during the negotiation of many restart plans, and large-scale projects have been postponed many times. In addition, US and Mexican officials have been working for many years on a treaty agreement that outlines how to handle communications systems in the 800 MHz band on the southern border of the United States, which means that networks in the region have not been able to begin reprocessing for many years.
According to Wilhelm, overall, Sprint has paid more than $3.6 billion in reinvestment costs.
Last week, Sprint submitted a progress report on the monthly 800 MHz band to the US Federal Communications Commission, noting that only six licensees still have unfinished 800 MHz band reuse to complete. According to the Sprint report, only two of these licensees are listed as public safety users, both located in El Paso, Texas.