Over the last two years many radio users have been left wondering why the process leading up to the P7200 portable exchange has been taking so long. One reason for this prolonged wait has been the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) ongoing Band Reconfiguration Process. Public safety radio systems are not the only users to operate within the 800 MHz band. Specialized Mobile Radio Systems, in particular Sprint Nextel, also operate within this band. As more and more public safety agencies began to utilize the 800MHz band in recent years, problems began to occur. Often times Sprint Nextel, one of the cellular telephone companies previously licensed to operate on a frequency close to or adjacent to a public safety system caused severe interference and often times caused the public safety system to not work to its full capability. To combat this problem the FCC has embarked on a 36 month transition that will reconfigure the banding and frequency assignments. New frequencies or spectrum will be reassigned with the Public Safety Sector relocating to the lower portion of the band, and cellular services spectrum will be moving to the upper portion of the band. The industry determined that it is not the location on the spectrum band that will improve the public safety systems, but rather the separation from the cellular services that cause interference.
The FCC has determined that all costs associated with this project have been deemed the responsibility of Sprint Nextel. Nextel has committed to providing $850 million for this project. Rebanding spectrum is an ongoing process that could take years to complete and is occurring nationwide. Cumberland County, as well as, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are going through the same process simultaneously. Obviously there are many players involved, including but not limited to our County, Sprint Nextel, Harris, and the FCC Transition Administrator. These groups have been working together for the last two years to address the rebanding process, to determine what was the appropriate inventory of portable radio and ancillary equipment, what the costs for exchange and installation and replacements in the exchange and who and what financial responsibility would have to be assigned. Currently we are waiting for the appropriate final authorizations to complete Phase I of this reconfiguration so that proposed inventory of replacement P7200’s portable radios can be released.
As we work towards the completion of Phase I, our department has been working diligently to make sure everything is in place for the immediately release of the P7200. A replacement schedule was developed and agreed to. A warehouse facility has been prepared and staffed in the recent weeks in preparation for the delivery and inventory of the radios coming into our possession. Both of these actions need to be in place and operating so that the exchange process can begin as rapidly as possible.
As we are resolving the final remaining issues and we inch closer to the exchange process this blog will be used to inform everyone and was established as part of our commitment to keeping you, the user up to date. We will continue to provide frequent updates as the exchange process gets underway in earnest.
Check back soon for the next blog update soon! In that blog we will address why the reconfiguration process requires new radios like the P7200 series.