FCC Improves Public Safety Communications in the 800 MHz Band

The Federal Communications Commission has successfully concluded its 800 MHz band reconfiguration program, which enabled public safety, critical infrastructure, and other licensees in the band to operate free of the interference that previously plagued first responder communications in these frequencies.

In 2004, the Commission launched its 800 MHz reconfiguration program, known as rebanding, to eliminate harmful interference to public safety radio systems and other 800 MHz licensees caused by commercial cellular networks operated by Sprint (now T-Mobile) and other providers.  The Commission implemented a revised 800 MHz band plan to reduce the interference by relocating Sprint’s system to the upper range of frequencies in the band and relocating public safety licensees to the lower end of the band.  The Commission required Sprint to pay the accumulated relocation costs incurred by public safety and other licensees, in addition to its relocation costs, and to secure its financial obligation with a letter of credit.  The Commission also appointed a Transition Administrator to administer the program under the Commission’s direction.

The rebanding process is now essentially complete, with over 2,100 systems relocated to new channels in the band and no interruption to public safety communications during the transition. As a result, the Commission today adopted an Order to close out the successful program and terminate the proceeding.