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CTIA Opposes Public Safety Spectrum Plan

The Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Monday opposing a "Joint Commentators" plan that seeks to resolve public safety interference issues in the 800 MHz band.

Since 2000, a number of public safety agencies using the 800 MHz band have reported interference problems related to commercial radio transmitter sites operated in most cases by the wireless carrier Nextel.

Nextel responded to the complaints by filing a report with the FCC proposing a reorganization of the current 800 MHz that would create two blocks of contiguous spectrum, one for public safety uses and one for commercial use. Nextel pledged $500 million to help public safety agencies relocate to the new allocations.

Since then, a number of companies and organizations, known as the Joint Commentators, have signed off on the Nextel plan that the CTIA, the principal trade association of the wireless industry, calls "dangerously flawed." The CTIA also says the plan creates an unfair advantage for Nextel.

"This is an issue that demands swift resolution," said Tom Wheeler, president and CEO of CTIA. "The Joint Commenters' plan is unnecessarily complex, extremely resource intensive and will take nearly four years to complete. And, it will only reduce, not eliminate, interference for the public safety community. This solution is neither swift nor sure, and the FCC should not deceive itself into thinking that the so-called 'Consensus Plan' is the answer to its problems."

CTIA claims there are more timely and less difficult solutions to the interference problem, including providing a case-by-case review, providing immediate relief for affected parties. The CTIA also recommends that, if necessary, the 800 MHz band be restructured within that band to minimize interference.

Finally, according to the CTIA, the 700 MHz band, where 24 MHz of spectrum has already been reserved for public safety, should be the long-term solution for public safety communications.