Mexican Licensees Ask FCC to Facilitate 800 MHz Rebanding Compensation Dispute
Tuesday, August 09, 2016 | Comments

In a strange twist to the continuing 800 MHz rebanding saga, four Mexican companies have petitioned the FCC to clarify a dispute regarding U.S.-Mexico border 800 MHz rebanding. The Mexican companies want Sprint or AT&T to pay to reband their 800 MHz licenses in the “sharing zone” along the border.

The petitioners, which include Comunicaciones Digitales del Norte, Radio Sistemas de Tamaulipas, Troncatel and Union Agricola Regional del Norte de Tamaulipas, also asked the U.S-Mexico Task Force to spur discussions with parties responsible for compensating and assisting implementation of the Mexican licenses to comply with the Amended Protocol. The 2012 Amended Protocol outlined spectrum sharing in the 800 MHz band along the border and was supposed to pave the way for 800 MHz reconfiguration by Mexican border region licensees.

The protocol outlined reconfiguration along the “sharing zone” of the border, which spans 110 kilometers into each country. It was anticipated that some of the Mexican incumbent operators in the sharing zone would face relocation.

Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFT), the FCC’s counterpart in Mexico, asked the four companies to relocate. “The Mexican licensees who are filing this petition have not been compensated as is required by Sprint (and/or AT&T Mexico) for actions they will be asked to undertake to comply with the requirements of the Amended Protocol,” the filing said. The FCC has purview over the obligations of Sprint and AT&T Mexico, the filing said.

Last year, AT&T purchased Nextel Mexico from NII Holdings, which had filed for bankruptcy.

“Some of the Mexican operators in the sharing zone are being asked to abandon their operations within the 800 MHz to benefit other users, including AT&T’s subsidiary, AT&T Mexico,” the petition said.

The companies said at the time of the Amended Protocol, Sprint obligated itself to cover the reasonable relocation costs of Mexican incumbent licensees. Sprint, through Nextel Communications, entered an agreement with NII Holdings to facilitate negotiations with Mexican licensees and pay up to the first $18 million in rebanding costs, the petition said. The filing said Sprint committed to compensate the companies for vacating their 800 MHz operations during a 2014 meeting. Two months later, it became public that AT&T was purchasing Nextel Mexico and “Sprint started distancing itself from the commitment it made …” the petition said.

The petitioners said an FCC declaratory ruling will clarify the dispute, which is delaying full implementation of 800 MHz rebanding along the U.S.-Mexican border.

“The petition has no merit and should not, in any way, delay U.S. – side band reconfiguration," said James Goldstein, Sprint senior counsel – legal and government affairs. "These operators are making a last-ditch attempt to embroil the FCC in a dispute they have with their own government. We continue to work closely with the FCC, the IFT, AT&T Mexico and other stakeholders to conclude 800 MHz band reconfiguration, which will lessen interference risk for U.S. public-safety first responders and enable enhanced broadband wireless services on both sides of the border.”

In an Aug. 4 quarterly report to the FCC on 800 MHz reconfiguration progress, the Transition Administrator (TA) said the primary focus of the reconfiguration program during the first quarter of 2016 continued to be the Mexican border licensees. As of March 31, all of the 127 frequency reconfiguration agreements (FRAs) anticipated for Mexican border licensees had been submitted to the TA. However, only 36 percent of public-safety physical retunes are complete.

The TA report said Mexican border licensees in the sharing zone may be blocked from proceeding with certain implementation activities because of operations in Mexico that have not cleared their frequencies. The TA conditioned the approval of 52 FRAs for affected licensees, allowing the licensees to reconfigure subscriber units but not authorizing the modification of FCC licenses or the reconfiguration of infrastructure until the replacement frequencies are clear.

“Licensees with FRAs with conditional approval cannot reconfigure their infrastructure because they are blocked by licensees in Mexico,” the report said.

The full petition for declaratory ruling is here.

The 800 MHz TA report is here.

Sprint’s monthly 800 MHz rebanding report dated Aug. 1 is here.

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On 12/1/16, Jaime Jimenez said:
We were told by IFT in Mexico that the reason why they want to move us away from the 800 MHz band was because of the U.S.-Mexico protocol for rebanding.

We did not want to move; this uncertainty of what it will happen if we stay or if we get moved and when this will happen has cost us a lot in our businesses.

I think this delay on the rebanding is costing everyone involved a lot of money. We are the first one interested in getting this resolved so we can continue with our business. But it seems that the interest of big U.S. companies on not wanting to fullfill their contracted obligations are more important then emergency services and the whole rebanding process. The Mexican government did not create rebanding; the U.S. government did. That is why we are asking the FCC to step forward and put some order into this craziness of obscure interests among Sprint, AT&T Mexico and the Mexican authorities.

On 11/23/16, Patricio Ruiz said:
The only reasonable point is a complete suspicion of corruption in Mexico and the U.S. businesses involved because they are trying to move the carriers without pay, affecting the network and clients they have had for the last 20 years. We need an investigation of the TA.

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