updated 03:30 pm EDT, Thu June 19, 2008
FCC Stays Nextel Handover
The US Federal Communications Commission today said it has reached an agreement with Sprint that will give the cellular company extra time to give up using some of the channels it relies upon for its Nextel-born iDEN network. The company had previously been required to clear out some frequencies by June 26th to prevent interference for new public safety services but has now been given an indefinite but conditional grant to continue using some of its push-to-talk network channels until they become necessary.
The carrier can continue to use the channels without a set date but will need to drop these channels within 60 days of institutions indicating they're ready to take over the wireless space, the FCC says. The telecoms provider also has to reassure any of the public safety groups that Sprint's leftover nearby channels won't cause problems.
Some of the channels that will be given up have yet to be given a reprieve but are being examined to give them a similar extension.
Sprint has had three years' advance notice to clear out the channels but has suffered a number of corporate and technical delays that have pushed the carrier to make the request, including its large subscriber base. The company has over 16 million customers still on its iDEN network, many of whom use its walkie talkie-like functions for business or government purposes.
Sprint is planning to transition much of its Nextel services to its EVDO Revision A-based 3G data network but is still in the early stages of the upgrade.