FCC Finds Mainly in Sprint’s Favor in 2 Rebanding Rulings (8/23/10)
Monday, August 23, 2010 | Comments

The FCC ruled in two de novo reviews regarding 800 MHz rebanding. In a Wave 1, Stage 2 mediation by the 800 MHz Transition Administrator (TA) involving a dispute over $34,080 in legal fees between the city of Hartford, Conn., and Sprint Nextel, the FCC said Hartford is entitled to reimbursement of $14,720.

The dispute stemmed from a change notice request filed by Hartford in March 2009, seeking $92,025 in fees for Hartford’s two external legal counsel. This amount consisted of $67,905 in fees for Schwaninger & Associates (Schwaninger) for work already performed and $16,120 in fees for Marjorie K. Conner for work already performed, along with and $8,000 in contingency fees for Conner’s future work. Sprint paid $57,945 leaving $34,080 in dispute.

The FCC found the following legal costs that Hartford requested met the criteria for change notice requests:

· $10,440 for negotiation of the rebanding contract;

· $600 for services involving FCC matters; and

· $3,680 for services relating to the change notice process.

All other claimed costs are disallowed as being inconsistent with the FCC guidance and precedent.

The second case involved a Wave 3, Stage 2 dispute between the county of Hinds, Miss., and Sprint Nextel regarding a change notice submitted by the county. The FCC resolved the dispute in Sprint’s favor.

FCC officials said the record demonstrates that the county, during frequency reconfiguration agreement (FRA) negotiations, specifically waived many of the costs it now seeks in its change notice. “It is impossible to verify the county’s claim for an additional $1.3 million for reconfiguration services because the county refuses to provide time records, invoices or other evidence documenting that the services were performed,” said the FCC in the ruling.

Second, the county violated the terms of the FRA and deviated from the procedures for change notices established in the commission’s 2007 supplemental guidance public notice. FCC officials said that the county failed to show why the need for those services was not anticipated during negotiations.

The FCC also rejected the county’s unfounded implication that the need for services, in addition to those provided by Motorola, was unforeseeable because a county employee deliberately ignored the need for those services during FRA negotiations in favor of a turnkey Motorola contract and later became a Motorola executive. Both the county’s planning funding agreement (PFA) and FRA were negotiated by the employee, but the FRA was reviewed by the county’s legal counsel and ratified by the president of its board.

Thus, the FCC found that Sprint is not responsible for the county’s internal costs, consultant’s fees or legal fees sought in the change notice.

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