800 MHz Transition Administrator
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This section contains reconfiguration guidance for licensees in the U.S.-Mexico Border Regions.
Wave 1 - Wave 4, Non-Border Regions


Canada Border Region


Mexico Border Region


Puerto Rico & U.S. Virgin Islands


In This Section

News and Highlights
Overview
Mexican Border Reconfiguration
TA's Reconfiguration Timetable
Who Needs to Reconfigure? To Where?
Reconfiguration Process
Preparing for Reconfiguration
Presentations and Webinars
Planning and Negotiation
   1. Frequency Proposal Reports (FPRs) and Frequency Planning
   2. Request for Planning Funding (RFPF)
   3. Planning and Preparing a Cost Estimate
   4. Subscriber Equipment Deployment (SED)
   5. System Upgrades
   6. Frequency Reconfiguration Agreement (FRA)
   7. Change Notice Process
   8. Review Payment Process & Funding Guidelines
Reconfiguration Implementation
   1. Implementation Sequence
   2. Implementation Schedule Monitoring and Reporting
   3. Implementation Planning and Attending an Implementation Planning Session
   4. Implementation Activities
Closing Phase


News & Highlights

FCC Extends Application Freeze - On August 26, 2016, the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) released a Public Notice extending the freeze on the acceptance of new 800 MHz applications along the U.S.-Mexico border until February 1, 2017. Additional information about the freeze is available here.

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Overview

Public safety radio systems - those used by police, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians - and other commercial and private systems operating on the 800 MHz Band have been experiencing increasing levels of interference and "dead zones" as a result of commercial wireless carriers operating in the same or adjacent spectrum bands. Reconfiguration is designed to alleviate this interference by spectrally separating the two types of systems.

The 800 MHz band reconfiguration program is part of the FCC's plan to promote safety and protect the lives of first responders and other emergency personnel by addressing the harmful interference to public safety communication systems operating in the 800 MHz Band.

The 800 MHz Transition Administrator, LLC (TA) serves as the Transition Administrator for the reconfiguration of the 800 MHz Band mandated by the FCC.

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Mexican Border Reconfiguration

On June 8, 2012, the FCC announced in a News Release that the United States and Mexico signed a new Protocol for sharing spectrum in the 800 MHz band along the U.S.-Mexico border, which paved the way for completion of 800 MHz band reconfiguration by licensees operating along the U.S.-Mexico border. The new Protocol: (1) revised the allotted band segments between the U.S. and Mexico, (2) specified the technical parameters for operation on these band segments within 110 kilometers (68 miles) of the common border (the Sharing Zone), and (3) created a bi-national Task Force to support the transition of incumbent operators along the border to the new allotment plan.

On August 17, 2012, the PSHSB released a Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing a new 800 MHz band plan along the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border and procedures for the reconfiguration of affected licensees. The PSHSB sought comments from interested parties and comments and reply comments were filed with the FCC in October 2012.

On April 1, 2013, the PSHSB released a Fifth Report and Order, adopting a reconfigured channel plan for the 800 MHz band along the U.S.-Mexico border. The PSHSB adopted a channel plan for licensees that operate within 110 kilometers of the border and channel plans for licensees operating in the portions of the NPSPAC regions bordering Mexico that are outside the Sharing Zone. It eliminated the channel center offsets in the Sharing Zone and instructed the TA to assign licensees to post-rebanding replacement channels with standard channel centers. The PSHSB established a 30-month transition period for licensees to complete rebanding in the NPSPAC regions bordering Mexico that began on August 23, 2013. It set forth timelines and procedures for planning, negotiations, mediation, and implementation of reconfiguration for Mexican border licensees.

The Fifth Report and Order established two stages for the reconfiguration of Mexican border licensees. Stage 1 includes non-public safety licensees (e.g., Business, Industrial, and Land Transportation (B/ILT) licensees and Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) licensees) and public safety licenses on pool channels. Stage 2 is comprised of NPSPAC licensees. Many 800 MHz licensees along the U.S.-Mexico border will be required to relocate to new frequencies as part of the transition from the current band plan to the new band plan. This includes virtually all licensees operating within the Sharing Zone in the NPSPAC regions bordering Mexico and licensees operating outside of the Sharing Zone in the NPSPAC regions bordering Mexico. The affected regions are Southern California (NPSPAC Region 5), Arizona (NPSPAC Region 3), New Mexico (NPSPAC Region 29), Texas – El Paso (NPSPAC Region 50), and Texas – San Antonio (NPSPAC Region 53). For a description of the general guidelines about where licensees will relocate to and for more detailed information on the specific band plans for the NPSPAC regions along the U.S.-Mexico border, you may review the PSHSB’s Fifth Report and Order.

On August 16, 2013, the PSHSB released a Public Notice announcing that the 30-month transition period for reconfiguration in regions along the U.S.-Mexico Border will commence on August 23, 2013 and end on February 23, 2016. The PSHSB provided guidance to licensees and vendors regarding reconfiguration. The PSHSB extended the freeze on the acceptance of new non-rebanding-related 800 MHz applications along the U.S.-Mexico border. Additional information about the freeze is available here.

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TA's Reconfiguration Timetable

In the Fifth Report and Order, the PSHSB directed the TA to develop and submit, by August 23, 2013, a detailed reconfiguration timetable with milestones for completion of each phase of the reconfiguration process. On August 6, 2013, the TA filed with the FCC a Reconfiguration Timetable for the Reconfiguration of the 800 MHz Band in the Sharing Zone and Affected NPSPAC Regions Along the U.S.-Mexico Border (Reconfiguration Timetable). The PSHSB approved the TA’s Reconfiguration Timetable in an August 16, 2013 Public Notice.

The Reconfiguration Timetable incorporates the guidance, band plans, timeframes, and sequencing the PSHSB set forth in the Fifth Report and Order. The Reconfiguration Timetable describes the specific steps required in each NPSPAC region for the relocation of non-NPSPAC and NPSPAC licensees.

The Reconfiguration Timetable provides that reconfiguration of Mexican border licensees will proceed in a single stage for purposes of starting planning, submitting a cost estimate to Sprint, and negotiating a Frequency Reconfiguration Agreement. All licensees began the planning and negotiation phase on August 23, 2013. Licensees seeking planning funding will negotiate a Planning Funding Agreement (PFA) or a PFA Amendment with Sprint, conduct planning activities, prepare and submit a cost estimate, and negotiate an FRA. For licensees without a PFA, the Reconfiguration Timetable designated August 23, 2013 as the start date for the planning period and for calculating the deadline for submitting a cost estimate to Sprint. Licensees without a PFA should plan for the reconfiguration of their system, prepare and submit a cost estimate, and negotiate a Frequency Reconfiguration Agreement.

The following timetable has been set for reconfiguration in the Sharing Zone and affected NPSPAC regions along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Key Dates
EVENT DATE
Commencement of 30-month transition period for reconfiguration

August 23, 2013

Requests for Planning Funding due

August 23, 2013

Change Notices due for licensees that already have a Planning Funding Agreement and need to amend it to complete planning

August 23, 2013

Start of planning period for licensees without a PFA

August 23, 2013

Expansion Band Elections due

November 20, 2013

Guard Band Elections due

November 20, 2013

Cost Estimates due for licensees without a PFA



      Licensees with 5,000 subscriber units or less

November 20, 2013

      Licensees with 5,001 to 10,000 subscriber units

December 2, 2013

      Licensees with more than 10,000 subscriber units

December 10, 2013

Cost Estimates due for licensees with a PFA or PFA Amendment

90 to 110 days from TA approval of PFA or PFA Amendment

      Licensees with 5,000 subscriber units or less

90 days

      Licensees with 5,001 to 10,000 subscriber units

100 days

      Licensees with more than 10,000 subscriber units

110 days

Completion of implementation by licensees

February 23, 2016



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Who Needs to Reconfigure? To Where?

Many 800 MHz licensees along the U.S.-Mexico border are required to relocate to new frequencies as part of the transition from the current band plan to the new band plan. This includes virtually all licensees operating within the Sharing Zone in the NPSPAC regions bordering Mexico and licensees operating outside of the Sharing Zone in the NPSPAC regions bordering Mexico. The affected regions are Southern California (NPSPAC Region 5), Arizona (NPSPAC Region 3), New Mexico (NPSPAC Region 29), Texas – El Paso (NPSPAC Region 50), and Texas – San Antonio (NPSPAC Region 53). For a description of the general guidelines about where licensees will relocate to and for more detailed information on the specific band plans for the NPSPAC regions along the U.S.-Mexico border, you may review the PSHSB’s Fifth Report and Order.

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Reconfiguration Process

The reconfiguration process consists of three phases: a Planning and Negotiation Phase, a Reconfiguration Implementation Phase, and a Closing Phase. Additional information about these phases is available below and in the following resources:
  • Reconfiguration Process Guide - This process guide and checklist provides a high-level sequential overview of the steps in the reconfiguration process and information about related resources and forms.
  • Reconfiguration Handbook - This handbook provides background information on reconfiguration and detailed information about the steps in the reconfiguration process.
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Preparing for Reconfiguration

In the Fifth Report and Order, the PSHSB encouraged licensees along the U.S.-Mexico border to begin preparing for reconfiguration prior to the start of the 30-month transition period that began on August 23, 2013. Although licensees were not required to engage in planning prior to receiving frequency proposals from the TA, the FCC encouraged them to engage in planning activities “to the extent that they are not frequency-dependent and would not result in unnecessary duplication of costs.”

Licensees should undertake the following activities to facilitate the rebanding process: All planning and reconfiguration costs, must be negotiated with and approved by Sprint Nextel as part of either a Planning Funding Agreement or a Frequency Reconfiguration Agreement and approved by the TA.

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Presentations and Webinars

The TA held outreach meetings and conducted Webinars (online training seminars) with Mexican border licensees to educate and inform them about the reconfiguration process. Links to the TA’s presentations and audio recordings of the Webinars are below.

The TA conducted meetings with Public Safety licensees in Southern California and Arizona in May 2013 and in Texas in June 2013. The TA presented information regarding the phases and activities in the reconfiguration process, the new band plans, preparing for reconfiguration, and conducting planning activities. PDFs of the TA’s presentations from these meetings are available at the following links: The TA conducted Webinars for Public Safety and non-Public Safety licensees in June 2013 during which it presented information regarding the phases and activities in the reconfiguration process, the new band plans, preparing for reconfiguration, and conducting planning activities.

The June 10, 2013 Webinar presentation was for licensees in NPSPAC Region 5: Southern California. A PDF of the TA’s presentation is available here. An audio recording of the Webinar, which also displays the TA’s presentation, is available here

The June 11, 2013 Webinar presentation was for licensees in NPSPAC Region 3: Arizona, Region 29: New Mexico, Region 50: Texas - El Paso, and Region 53: Texas - San Antonio. A PDF of the TA’s presentation is available here. An audio recording of the Webinar, which also displays the TA’s presentation, is available here.

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Planning and Negotiation

During the Planning and Negotiation Phase, you should engage in planning for the reconfiguration of your radio system. If you need funding for planning activities, you may request funds by submitting a Request for Planning Funding and negotiating a Planning Funding Agreement. This step may not be necessary for all licensees. You should plan for the reconfiguration of your system, prepare and submit a Cost Estimate, and negotiate a Frequency Reconfiguration Agreement with Sprint for the costs of your system’s reconfiguration.

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Frequency Proposal Reports (FPRs) and Frequency Planning

A Frequency Proposal Report (FPR) is a report provided by the TA for each call sign and the related frequencies designated for reconfiguration that provides the proposed replacement frequencies and other information to assist licensees in the reconfiguration process. Licensees in the Sharing Zone and licensees outside the Sharing Zone in the NPSPAC regions bordering Mexico that did not previously receive replacement frequencies received FPRs from the TA. The TA has mailed FPRs to all Mexican border licensees. For additional guidance, licensees may also view the FPR Fact Sheet: Mexican Border Region.

Licensees should review their FPRs and evaluate their new frequencies early in their planning process. If a licensee finds issues with its proposed replacement frequencies (i.e., frequencies that the licensee believes are not comparable, issues with combiner spacing, or issues with Vehicular Repeater Systems), it should promptly inform the TA or Sprint.

Application Freeze: The FCC has imposed a freeze on the acceptance of new non-rebanding-related 800 MHz applications along the U.S.-Mexico border. The freeze along the U.S.-Mexico border is currently in effect until February 1, 2017. The freeze applies to NPSPAC Region 3: Arizona, NPSPAC Region 5: Southern California, NPSPAC Region 29: New Mexico, NPSPAC Region 50: Texas - El Paso, and NPSPAC Region 53: Texas - San Antonio and to stations located within 70 miles of the borders of these NPSPAC regions. The freeze applies only to applications for new facilities or modification applications that involve a change of frequency or expand a station's existing coverage area. Applications that do not affect frequency or coverage (e.g., administrative updates, assignments/transfers, or renewal-only applications) are not subject to the freeze. Licensees on pre-rebanding channels proposing to expand coverage or add a new channel during the freeze may seek Special Temporary Authorization (STA) from the FCC based upon a showing of public interest need as described in the FCC’s December 20, 2006 Public Notice. Licensees on post-rebanding channels proposing to expand coverage or add a new channel during the freeze may apply for permanent authorization from the FCC provided they include a request for waiver of the freeze with their application.

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Request for Planning Funding (RFPF)

If you require funding to conduct planning activities, you should prepare and submit a Request for Planning Funding (RFPF) Form (PDF or Word version) as early as possible. You may submit an RFPF and negotiate a Planning Funding Agreement (PFA) prior to receiving replacement frequencies.

As specified in the Fifth Report and Order, Mexican border licensees that intend to negotiate a PFA with Sprint were required to submit an RFPF on or before August 23, 2013. Licensees that already have a PFA and need to amend it to complete the planning process were required to submit a Change Notice on or before August 23, 2013.

Visit the Resources by Category: Processes section of the TA’s website for more information and for Instructions for submitting an RFPF. Additional information about submitting a Change Notice is available here.

After you submit an RFPF or a Change Notice, you and Sprint will negotiate a PFA or a PFA Amendment. A PFA can be put in place that allows you to proceed with planning activities for which replacement frequency information is not needed, while waiting for frequency information to be available for the remainder of the activities. You and Sprint will have 30 days from submittal of the RFPF or Change Notice to negotiate a PFA or PFA Amendment. If a PFA or a PFA Amendment has not been submitted to the TA by the end of the 30-day negotiation period, you and Sprint will participate in mediation for 20 working days. If you do not reach agreement during the mediation period, the TA will refer any remaining disputed issues to the PSHSB within 10 days after the close of the mediation period.

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Planning and Preparing a Cost Estimate

During the planning process, you and your vendors plan for the reconfiguration of your radio system. Planning activities include, but are not limited to, the following activities:
  • Conducting an inventory of your subscriber units
  • Conducting an inventory of your infrastructure
  • Determining whether any of the equipment requires special considerations for reconfiguration. Examples include bi-directional amplifiers (BDAs), Vehicular Repeater Systems (VRS), SCADA systems (e.g., for irrigation), siren control systems, and wireless monitoring and alarm equipment in nuclear power plants
  • Engineering and implementation planning
  • Defining your interoperability environment
  • Evaluating your proposed replacement frequencies
Additional information about these activities is available in the Reconfiguration Handbook.

You should prepare a Cost Estimate – an estimate of the costs associated with the reconfiguration of your radio system. Additional information about preparing a Cost Estimate is available in the following resources: Licensees in the Sharing Zone may include in their Cost Estimate the costs to monitor their replacement frequencies at the appropriate time prior to infrastructure retuning to ensure there is no harmful interference from users in Mexico that have not properly cleared the replacement frequencies. Licensees with such costs should develop a monitoring plan and include it and the related costs in their Cost Estimate. Additional information is available in the Monitoring Replacement Frequencies guidance.

After the TA approves your Planning Funding Agreement or PFA Amendment, you must complete planning and submit a Cost Estimate to Sprint within 90 to 110 days, depending on the number of mobile/portable radio units in your system (see below). You may submit your Cost Estimate to Sprint as soon as it is prepared.
  • If you have up to 5,000 subscriber units, the period to complete planning and submit a Cost Estimate is 90 days;
  • If you have 5,001-10,000 units, the period is 100 days; and
  • If you have more than 10,000 units, the period is 110 days.
If you have not received your proposed replacement frequencies by the date the TA approves your PFA or PFA Amendment, the planning period will run from the date you receive your proposed replacement frequencies.

During planning, you should provide the TA with biweekly reports regarding the status of your planning activities in such form as the TA may request.

Extension Requests: If you cannot complete planning and submit a Cost Estimate within your 90 to 110 day planning period, you may petition the PSHSB for additional time for planning. Your petition must (a) explain why more time is necessary, (b) demonstrate that you have exercised diligence in the time already allotted (e.g., commencing planning promptly after TA approval of your PFA, promptly reviewing statements of work prepared by your vendors, and completing planning tasks on schedule), and (c) set a firm schedule for planning completion. You may submit your extension request either as a motion or in a letter. The submission may be signed either by the licensee or by its counsel. You should file the extension request with the PSHSB via email to PSHSB800@fcc.gov and copy TA Mediation at TAMediation@squirepb.com and Sprint at 800mhz@sprint.com.

The PSHSB’s Orders addressing licensees’ extension requests are available here.

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Subscriber Equipment Deployment (SED)

If you have completed your inventory, you may want to consider participating in the Subscriber Equipment Deployment (SED) program, which allows you to begin reconfiguration of subscriber units, including obtaining replacement equipment, software upgrade kits, and installation services, before you negotiate a complete Frequency Reconfiguration Agreement. Please review the SED Request Form and instructions: Back to top


System Upgrades

Pursuant to the Fifth Report and Order, any licensee along the U.S.-Mexico border seeking a system upgrade during reconfiguration (whereby licensee upgrades its radio system, Sprint pays the licensee the lesser of the amount that it otherwise would have paid for reconfiguration to comparable facilities or the cost of the upgrade, and the licensee pays any additional cost of the upgraded system from its own funds) should notify the TA and Sprint, in writing, no later than the due date for submission of the licensee’s cost estimate. The notice must describe the nature of the proposed upgrade, the cost, the source of funds, and the implementation schedule. The upgrade proposal must comply with the TA’s upgrade policy, which can be found on pages 85-88 of the Reconfiguration Handbook. If the licensee and Sprint negotiate an FRA that includes an upgrade, the TA will review the upgrade, giving close scrutiny to determine that the upgrade will not lengthen the licensee’s reconfiguration schedule and that any incremental funding needed to accomplish the upgrade is demonstrably available. The upgrade proposal is subject to TA approval.

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Frequency Reconfiguration Agreement (FRA)

After completing your planning activities and submitting a complete Cost Estimate to Sprint, you will have 30 days to negotiate a Frequency Reconfiguration Agreement (FRA) with Sprint. A TA mediator will monitor the negotiations. If an FRA has not been submitted to the TA by the end of the 30-day negotiation period, you and Sprint will participate in mediation for 20 working days. If you do not reach agreement during the mediation period, the TA will refer any remaining disputed issues to the PSHSB within 10 days after the close of the mediation period.

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Change Notice Process

As your planning and reconfiguration activities proceed in accordance with the work described in your PFA or FRA, there may be a need for changes to the scope of such work. These changes may occur at any point in the planning and reconfiguration process between the time that you execute your TA-approved PFA or FRA with Sprint and the time that you reconcile your costs with Sprint prior to the contract closing. Whenever a change to your PFA or FRA scope of work is required, you will need to submit a Change Notice in accordance with the applicable “Changes” provisions of your PFA or FRA. Change Notices are to be submitted concurrently to Sprint and the TA. You will negotiate the change with Sprint and, in most cases, submit an amendment to the PFA or FRA to the TA for review and approval.

The FCC has stated that a Change Notice is appropriate only when a licensee is faced with unanticipated changes in cost, scope, or schedule that occur during implementation or in the case of an emergency. The FCC has indicated that a licensee may not use the Change Notice process to recover costs that were reasonably foreseeable during PFA or FRA negotiations but were not raised in negotiations, or that were considered and rejected.

You should review the following documents regarding Change Notices: You may also view the Change Notice FAQs in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the website.

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Review Payment Process & Funding Guidelines

Upon TA approval of your FRA (or PFA), Sprint will initiate payment in accordance with the contractually agreed terms. When a licensee was paid based on a Cost Estimate, a financial true-up of payments is necessary at conclusion of your system reconfiguration. You are required to maintain documentation of the costs incurred to reconfigure your system. Sprint is only required to make payments for reasonable and prudent expenses directly related to the retuning of an 800 MHz system. You will be required to submit documentation to Sprint no later than the closing of your reconfiguration.

Licensees may also wish to review the policy and reimbursement guidelines (listed under RFPF Documents) regarding planning funding and PFAs.

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Reconfiguration Implementation

After you execute an FRA with Sprint at the end of the Planning and Negotiation Phase, the Reconfiguration Implementation Phase begins. The objective of this phase is to execute the reconfiguration of your system according to the plan developed in your FRA. Reconfiguration implementation, or physical reconfiguration, consists of: (1) replacement and/or retuning of subscriber units; (2) retuning base stations to your new frequencies and commencement of system operations on the new channels (sometimes referred to as the system “cutover”); and (3) additional post-cutover system activities (e.g., disposal or return of temporary or legacy equipment, removal of pre-rebanding channels from subscriber units (where appropriate)) as provided in your FRA. Because many of the replacement frequencies for licensees in the Sharing Zone will first have to be cleared by another licensee, you should expect to work closely with Sprint and the TA on the timing and coordination of your implementation.

After your FRA is approved by the TA, you can proceed with implementation activities if your replacement frequencies are clear. If your replacement frequencies are blocked, you can proceed with some implementation activities. Some licensees in the Sharing Zone may not be able to proceed with certain implementation activities (e.g., infrastructure reconfiguration) due to operations in the U.S. or in Mexico that have not been cleared from their replacement frequencies. The TA has conditioned the approval of the FRAs for affected licenses, allowing the licensees to reconfigure subscriber units, but not authorizing the modification of FCC licenses to add the replacement frequencies or the reconfiguration of infrastructure until the replacement frequencies are clear. The FRA approval letter for affected licensees describes the conditions. These licensees should move forward with the reconfiguration of their subscriber units and other implementation activities authorized by their FRA approval letter.

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Implementation Sequence

Information about the implementation sequence in the NPSPAC regions bordering Mexico is available in the following TA presentations.

Some Mexican border licensees may be required to move in two steps (non-NPSPAC then NPSPAC) to support regional implementation. The FCC has stated that Sprint must pay the reasonable cost of any licensee undergoing multiple retunes.

Implementation Schedule Monitoring and Reporting

After a licensee has a fully executed FRA, the TA will contact the licensee regularly to obtain schedule updates and progress reports regarding its implementation activities. Licensees should promptly respond to the TA’s phone calls, emails, and requests for information throughout the reconfiguration process.

The TA initially will ask a licensee to provide its start and finish dates for implementation tasks as provided in its FRA. Examples of such tasks are:
  • Vendor Agreement Approved
  • Receipt of Replacement and/or Loaner Equipment
  • Conduct Subscriber Unit Reconfiguration
  • Conduct Infrastructure Reconfiguration
  • Conduct Subscriber Unit Second Touch (if necessary)
As a licensee’s implementation progresses, the TA will ask the licensee for updates about the status of implementation tasks, including changes to start and finish dates, durations, percent complete, and dependencies. For NPSPAC regions that previously had an Implementation Planning Session, the TA monitors the progress of licensees’ implementation activities against the regional implementation schedule developed at the session. The TA encourages licensees to inform the TA of any changes to their schedule so that it can update the regional implementation schedule and keep it current. Licensee Progress Reports Fact Sheet provides additional information.

The TA collects information about licensees’ status and schedules for the purpose of developing and maintaining comprehensive regional implementation schedules that facilitate reconfiguration of all licensees. The TA incorporates The schedule information that each licensee provides for its individual system into the regional implementation schedule for that particular region. The TA will distribute the information collected from licensees as necessary to assist with reconfiguration activities, maintenance of interoperability with neighboring licensees, and the successful completion of the 800 MHz band reconfiguration program. The schedule information that licensees provide to the TA may be shared by the TA, on a need-to-know basis, with other licensees, vendors who have been hired by licensees for reconfiguration, Sprint, and the FCC. After an Implementation Planning Session is conducted, the TA will distribute the regional implementation schedule to licensees in the region, their vendors, and Sprint. The TA may distribute the regional implementation schedule to licensees or third parties outside a region, as it is deemed necessary. If you do not want your schedule information shared with other licensees, vendors, or Sprint, you should inform the TA accordingly at the time of disclosure of the information and mark the information as “not for disclosure” or “confidential.” If you inform the TA that you do not want your schedule information shared, the TA will discuss with you the potential impacts to your efforts, as well as to the reconfiguration program.

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Implementation Planning and Attending an Implementation Planning Session

As part of implementation preparation, the TA conducts an Implementation Planning Session (IPS) for reconfiguring Public Safety licensees in a NPSPAC region. The purpose of an IPS is to develop a comprehensive reconfiguration implementation schedule for licensees in a given region, including the identification of key issues, risks, dependencies, implementation sequence, and next steps. Participants include Public Safety licensees, vendors, consultants, Sprint, and the TA. Non-Public Safety licensees may be invited to participate as needed.

After a critical mass of Public Safety licensees in a NPSPAC region has submitted FRAs to the TA and is ready to provide information about their implementation schedules, the TA will conduct an IPS to assist licensees with coordination of their implementation activities and clearing of frequencies. An IPS may not be conducted in every NPSPAC region, such as a region that does not have extensive blocking or interoperability concerns. The TA is not planning to conduct an IPS in NPSPAC Region 29: New Mexico or NPSPAC Region 50: Texas – El Paso. When your region is ready for an IPS, you will be contacted by the TA. Often, by the time the critical mass is reached, most licensees will have started some implementation work.

Licensees that have an approved FRA and do not have blocked replacement frequencies or interoperability concerns should commence implementation activities without waiting for an IPS to be scheduled or held. Licensees that have questions about whether their replacement frequencies are blocked should contact Sprint or the TA.

During the IPS, the TA works with licensees to develop a comprehensive implementation schedule for the region that identifies key milestones and dependencies associated with reconfiguration implementation activities. Licensees identify interdependencies between their systems and the effect on the regional implementation schedule is discussed. The IPS helps licensees adjust implementation schedules to deal with interoperability and interdependencies of shared networks – particularly setting dates for retuning mutual aid channels used by neighboring jurisdictions. At the IPS, licensees and Sprint coordinate timely clearing of replacement frequencies and subsequent relocation of licensees onto their final replacement frequencies. Clearing of licensees in Mexico will impact the schedule and coordination of licensee implementation in the Sharing Zone.

Licensees should come to the IPS prepared to discuss their overall timelines and implementation plans for reconfiguration, as well as interoperability, vendor commitments, dependencies, key assumptions, and open issues. Multiple licensees that are proposing to reconfigure as a single coordinated group are encouraged to present a common integrated timeline and plan (even if they have separate FRAs). The following documents include information about preparing for implementation and preparing for an IPS: If you are attending an IPS, please utilize and complete the IPS Preparation Worksheet in advance of the IPS as items on the worksheet will be discussed at length during the IPS. Additional information about Implementation Planning Sessions is available on the IPS and Webinars Page.

After an IPS, the TA will email the regional implementation schedule that was developed at the IPS to licensees in the region, their vendors, and Sprint. To provide licensees with visibility into implementation progress and any changes to the schedule for their region, the TA will circulate, on a monthly basis thereafter, an updated regional implementation schedule to licensees in regions where an IPS was held, their vendors, and Sprint. The updated schedule will include the implementation schedule and progress updates that licensees provide to the TA. This schedule allows licensees to view the progress of interdependent licensees and helps to promote maintaining interoperability in the region during implementation. Licensees that participated in an IPS should continue to move forward with and complete their implementation activities in accordance with the regional implementation schedule. Licensees should work with other licensees, Sprint, and the TA to support the regional implementation schedule.

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Implementation Activities

The Reconfiguration Implementation Phase for individual licensees may consist of the following activities (subject to the terms of the licensee’s FRA): Additional information about these activities is below.

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Finalize Vendor Contracts and Kick-off the Implementation Phase

In addition to entering into an FRA with Sprint, licensees may enter into a contract with their reconfiguration vendor(s) and consultant(s) for their work during the implementation phase. You are encouraged to finalize and execute such contracts shortly after your FRA is executed. The contracts with your vendors and consultants should establish a framework that ensures equipment will be delivered and implementation work completed in accordance with your established reconfiguration schedule and FCC requirements.

A licensee and its vendor(s) often have a kick-off meeting to discuss the implementation phase. You are encouraged to schedule that meeting as soon as possible after the FRA is executed.

Receive Loaner and/or Replacement Equipment

Your FRA may provide for Sprint and/or an equipment vendor to provide you with loaner equipment to use during reconfiguration and/or equipment that will replace your current equipment (replacement equipment). You are encouraged to coordinate with your Sprint Project Manager and/or your vendor for the timely delivery of this equipment.

Install Back-to-Back Repeaters (if necessary)

Some licensees, if provided for in their FRA, may install back-to-back repeaters to operate on their old and new channels during reconfiguration. This task is not necessary for all licensees. Public safety licensees may use back-to-back repeaters to maintain operations or interoperability on the five nationwide NPSPAC mutual aid channels. The timing for installing or implementing the back-to-back repeaters is dependent on the licensee’s subscriber unit reconfiguration plan and regional requirements for interoperable communications. Some licensees may install back-to-back repeaters prior to subscriber unit reconfiguration and others may install them prior to starting infrastructure reconfiguration.

Reconfigure Subscriber Units

A key component of implementation is the retuning, reflashing, and/or replacement of subscriber units, including mobile radios and portable radios. You or your vendors will add the replacement frequencies to the subscriber units. As part of this task, licensees may modify the templates for their subscriber units as provided in their FRA.

Request Sprint to Clear Replacement Frequencies

The detailed schedule for Sprint to clear your replacement frequencies may be arranged as part of the FRA, at an IPS, or in a Retuning Schedule Letter (RSL). A licensee can request a channel clearing date from Sprint, discuss it with Sprint, and then come to an agreement with Sprint on a clearing schedule. The schedule is typically set forth in an RSL.

You should request a channel clearing date in timely manner so that the clearing will correspond with the completion of your subscriber unit reconfiguration work and the channels can be cleared prior to your scheduled date for starting infrastructure reconfiguration. The requested channel clearing date should be consistent with your schedule for reconfiguring the system infrastructure or, in the case of mobile-only channels, the need to start operating on those channels. You should ensure that you are prepared to use the cleared channels upon their release by Sprint. If a NPSPAC licensee requests access to spectrum in the new NPSPAC band for testing purposes or to commence operations, Sprint must clear the necessary channels within 60 days of the request.

The TA has developed a Channel Clearing Request Form that licensees can use to request a date by which Sprint will clear the licensee’s replacement channels. A licensee does not need to fill out the Channel Clearing Request Form if it attended an IPS during which it provided its implementation schedule dates. Channel Clearing documents include:
File FCC Applications for License Modifications to Add New Frequencies

Licensees or Sprint will prepare and file the appropriate FCC applications to add the new frequencies to the existing licenses. The TA sends out proposed replacement frequencies to those licensees requiring them, but licensees, their authorized representative, and/or Sprint, depending upon the terms of the FRA, are responsible for filing the necessary licensing applications with the FCC. Licensees may request that Sprint prepare and file the application(s) on their behalf.

FCC Grants License Modifications

The FCC must grant license modifications before the new frequencies can be activated or used in your system.

Sprint Clears Replacement Frequencies and/or Confirms Predecessor Licensees Have Cleared

Once the requisite FCC applications have been granted, Sprint will clear your replacement frequencies. This will make the new frequencies for your system available. Sprint will notify both you and the TA when it has cleared the new frequencies (by discontinuing operations), usually within five days of completing the clearing.

In some cases, other licensees besides Sprint will need to clear your replacement frequencies first. In such a case, Sprint, working in conjunction with the TA, will advise you when your frequencies have been cleared by other licensees and are available for your use.

Monitor Replacement Frequencies

Licensees in the Sharing Zone in the U.S. may need to monitor their replacement frequencies at the appropriate time just prior to infrastructure retuning to ensure there is no harmful interference from users in Mexico that have not properly cleared the replacement frequencies. The licensee’s costs to develop and implement a monitoring plan should be negotiated and agreed to with Sprint as a component of the FRA. Licensees will be notified when their replacement frequencies in the Sharing Zone in the U.S. have been reported as clear and ready for licensing and use. Licensees should not monitor ahead of this notification as they may detect signals from licensees, both in Mexico and the U.S., that are still in the process of reconfiguring and erroneously report them as interference. Additional information is available in the Monitoring Replacement Frequencies guidance.

Complete Pre-Infrastructure Reconfiguration Preparation Work

Concurrent with Sprint clearing frequencies, you should complete any tasks provided for in your FRA that can be performed in advance of infrastructure reconfiguration. The specific activities included in this step will vary significantly depending on the complexity of your system. Preparation work may include confirming that you received all loaner equipment and/or all replacement equipment from Sprint and/or your vendor, scheduling the work by your vendors, facility preparation, system baseline testing (if required), monitoring your replacement frequencies to ensure they are clear, or other activities outlined in your reconfiguration plan.

Reconfigure Infrastructure

Activities that may occur during infrastructure reconfiguration include site retunes and other tasks necessary to operate on the new frequencies while minimizing disruption to the existing operations. These tasks may include the retuning or replacement of combiners, repeaters, and other fixed network equipment pursuant to your FRA. Specific activities will vary depending on the complexity of your system.

Complete System Cutover

The system cutover milestone is reached when all physical reconfiguration tasks, except second or subsequent touches to subscriber units to remove old channels (if necessary) and/or removal of mutual aid back-to-back repeaters, are complete. At this point all infrastructure and subscriber equipment is verified to be operational on the new frequencies.

Complete Acceptance Testing (if required)

If provided for in your FRA, acceptance testing ensures the reconfigured system is comparable to the pre-reconfiguration system parameters. It is important to note that the coverage testing for reconfiguration (as outlined in the Coverage Testing Fact Sheet) has a different objective than the testing necessary for acceptance of a new system. For a new system, the objective is to verify the vendor has delivered to specification in all parts of the coverage area promised.

New system acceptance may require a drive test using a grid with thousands of data points and is quite different from comparing coverage before and after reconfiguration. To be valid, these measurements must be performed as close together in time as the reconfiguration will allow in order to minimize the effect of seasonal changes and other potential environmental differences. Methods include:
  • Method 1: Repeater Site Measurements
  • Method 2: Line-of-Sight Measurements
  • Method 3: Drive Test
For additional information on verifying comparable coverage for reconfiguration, please consult pages 119-122 of the Reconfiguration Handbook or your system vendor.

Conduct Second Touch of Subscriber Units (if necessary)

If provided for in your FRA, you or your vendors may conduct a second (or subsequent) touch of your subscriber units to remove the pre-reconfiguration frequencies. This task is not necessary for all licensees.

Remove Back-to-Back Repeaters (if necessary)

If provided for in your FRA, you or your vendors will remove the back-to-back repeaters from your old channels. This task is not necessary for all licensees. Public safety licensees should take into consideration their local and regional interoperable communication needs as they plan the removal of the mutual aid back-to-back repeaters. For example, public safety licensees should not remove the mutual aid back-to-back repeaters until their interoperability partners have completed the programming of the post-rebanding channels in their subscriber units.

Closing Phase
After you complete Reconfiguration Implementation, the Closing Phase begins. The Closing Phase addresses the administrative aspects of completing reconfiguration. You have not completed reconfiguration until all closing activities required in your FRA are complee. For FRAs, the closing consists of the following activities:
  • License Modification - The modification of your FCC licenses to delete old frequencies.
  • Equipment Reconciliation - The true up of loaned, replaced, and replacement equipment.
  • Actual Cost Reconciliation - The true up of cost support documentation with amounts paid or to be paid by Sprint.
  • Closing - The preparation, execution, and delivery of the closing documents, including an FRA Completion Certification.
  • Maintaining records and documentation - You should retain all information related to reimbursable costs for reconfiguration for a minimum of 18 months after the closing of a FRA and longer if you typically retain records for longer.
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