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FCC's Proposed Spectrum Swap For Nextel Is Scrutinized

The FCC's 256-page order designed to clear up Nextel Communication's interference problems with public-safety agencies is being digested this week by the various parties involved in the issue over the past several months.

Neither Nextel, nor its most vociferous critic, Verizon Wireless, have weighed in with a decision on the order, which was released on Friday. Most observers expect Nextel to go along with the order because it meets most of its wishes.

It is a different story with Verizon Wireless, however, as that firm has complained that the coveted 1.9-GHz spectrum the FCC wants to award Nextel should be put out to bid at public auction. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that a Verizon Wireless spokesman said the firm is still "reading the order and assessing our options."

In endorsing the order, FCC Chairman Michael Powell noted that the public proceedings leading up to it produced more than 2,200 filings. In a statement, Powell said: "It is a Commission-derived solution that represents the most comprehensive and effective means of solving the 800-MHz public-safety interference problem.

"Our decision fulfills our mandate to promote public safety by reconfiguring the 800-MHz public safety band to segregate systems causing unacceptable levels of interference to public-safety communications."

The order calls for a reshuffling of spectrum by Nextel, for which it will pay at least $3 billion. Eventually, the 800-MHz band will be cleared to make way for additional public-safety agencies.

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