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US and Mexico strike public safety spectrum deal along national borders

US and Mexico strike public safety spectrum deal along national borders
Zachary Lutz
Zachary Lutz|June 8, 2012 8:22 PM

The FCC announced today that Chairman Julius Genachowski has entered into an agreement with Mexico's telecommunications officials to create a new spectrum sharing scheme along the nation's borders. The move will normalize 800MHz and 1900MHz spectrum use within 68 miles of the common border, and is primarily intended to reduce interference and allow for reliable public safety communications in the region. Further rollout of commercial services is also central to the pact, as Sprint has been authorized to deploy its CDMA service in the 1900MHz spectrum along the border. The move is hardly a free gift, however, as Sprint had previously surrendered a share of its 800MHz holdings to pave way for the agreement. A bi-national task force will oversee the adjustment process, and both nations have agreed to discuss future spectrum coordination along the border in future meetings. Proof that cooperation isn't completely dead, folks. To gain a greater understanding of where both nations are headed, just hop the break for the announcement.

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Washington D.C. – Today, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski participated in high-level discussions with U.S. and Mexican telecommunications officials at the State Department where the United States signed two Protocols with Mexico for sharing spectrum in the 800 MHz and 1.9 GHz bands along the U.S.-Mexican border. The signing of these documents marks the beginning of the final phase for rebanding in the 800 MHz band across the country. These actions will help support commercial broadband services and public safety mission-critical voice communications along the U.S.-Mexico border and throughout the United States.

"These agreements with Mexico will unleash investment and benefit consumers near the borders by enabling the rollout of advanced wireless broadband service and advanced systems for critical public safety and emergency response communications," Chairman Julius Genachowski stated. "I appreciate the commitment and dedication of agency staff and those at the State Department who made these important agreements possible."

The United States and Mexico also signed a high-level expression of support, or "Joint Statement," for continued coordination of spectrum along the border and cooperation on telecommunications policy issues as well as an ambitious work plan, or "Directory of Bilateral Issues," for 2012-2014.

Specifically, the new 800 MHz Protocol: (1) allots band segments between the United States and Mexico, (2) specifies the technical parameters for operation on these band segments within 110 kilometers (68 miles) of the common border, and (3) creates a bi-national Task Force to support the transition of incumbent operators along the border to the new allotment plan.

The Protocol for 800 MHz replaces a previous agreement and paves the way for completion of 800MHz rebanding by U.S. public safety and commercial licensees operating along the U.S.-Mexico border. The FCC ordered rebanding to alleviate interference to public safety licensees in the band caused by commercial cellular licensees.

The new Protocol for the 1.9 GHz band allows Sprint Nextel Corporation to deploy CDMA service along the border with Mexico. Sprint obtained access to the 1.9 GHz band in 2004 as compensation for vacating its spectrum holding in the lower segment of the 800 MHz band in accordance with the rebanding project.

The relevant documents are available on the International Bureau web site at
http://transition.fcc.gov/ib/sand/agree/. They are also available for reference in the FCC Reference Information Center, Courtyard Level, and 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, D.C. Copies may be purchased by calling Best Copy and Printing, Inc. at (800) 378-3160.

Contacts: Brian Marenco, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau at (202) 418-0838, Jennifer
Gilsenan, International Bureau at (202) 418-0757 and Tim Maguire, Wireless Telecommunications
Bureau at (202) 418-2155.

– FCC –

For more news and information about the FCC please visit: www.fcc.gov