Sprint can deploy in 1.9 GHz spectrum along Mexico border

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) is a beneficiary of two new spectrum-sharing agreements with Mexico in that the operator will be allowed to deploy wireless service in 1.9 GHz spectrum along the border separating the United States and Mexico.

The bilateral agreements concern protocols for sharing spectrum in the 800 MHz and 1.9 GHz bands along the border and mark the beginning of the final phase for rebanding the 800 MHz band across the United States. The FCC previously ordered rebanding to alleviate interference to public-safety licensees in 800 MHz band caused by commercial cellular licensees, and this final stage involves rebanding by U.S. public-safety and commercial licensees operating along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sprint was granted access to the 1.9 GHz band in 2004 as compensation for vacating its spectrum in the lower segment of the 800 MHz band in accordance with the rebanding project. The new protocol for the 1.9 GHz band allows Sprint "to deploy CDMA service along the border with Mexico," according to the FCC.

However, the commission did not reference the fact that Sprint is refarming its 1.9 GHz spectrum across the United States from CDMA to LTE, with initial LTE launches slated for this summer. Sprint has said it will shutter service on its 2G iDEN network as early as June 30, 2013. Sprint plans to deploy LTE first in its 1900 MHz PCS spectrum and then later on the 800 MHz spectrum currently reserved for iDEN service

"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," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

In line with U.S. 800 MHz rebanding efforts, the new bilateral 800 MHz protocol allots band segments between the United States and Mexico, specifies technical parameters for operation on these band segments within 68 miles of the common border and 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.

The nations also signed a joint statement expressing support for the continued coordination of spectrum along the border and cooperation on telecommunications policy issues as well as a work plan for 2012-2014.

For more:
- see this FCC release
- see this ComputerWorld article

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