FCC Relieves Sprint of 800 MHz Band Anti-Windfall Obligation

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau today released a declaratory ruling relieving Sprint Corp. of any obligation to make an anti-windfall payment to the U.S. Treasury related to the 800 megahertz band realignment. The FCC had imposed the anti-windfall provision to make sure that the carrier did not receive an economic benefit from the agency’s award to Sprint of spectrum in the 1.9 gigahertz band.

“We have now determined that the anti-windfall payment provision should be lifted, as Sprint has expended sufficient funds in fulfilling its 800 MHz rebanding commitments to preclude the windfall that the provision was intended to prevent,” the bureau said in the order in WT docket 02-55. “We make this assessment, pursuant to a directive from the Commission, based on the report of the 800 MHz Transition Administrator, which determined that Sprint’s creditable expenses in connection with the rebanding initiative have exceeded $2,796,548,000 ($2.8 billion). We issue this ruling because there is no longer any economic or policy reason to keep the anti-windfall provision in place. This order, however, does not alter other rebanding-related obligations and license conditions applicable to Sprint until rebanding is completed.”

In its 2004 800 MHz band order, the FCC said that if Sprint’s actual rebanding costs were lower than $2.8 billion, it would have to make a windfall payment (TR Daily, July 8, 2004). That’s because the FCC said the 10 MHz of 1.9 GHz band spectrum that Sprint got was worth nearly $4.9 billion, while the 800 MHz band channels it relinquished were valued at nearly $2.06 billion.

“We are pleased with the FCC’s decision that Sprint has fully satisfied its cost obligations and that no additional ‘anti-windfall’ payment will be required as part of 800 MHz band reconfiguration effort,” Sprint said in a statement today. “We continue to work aggressively and cooperatively with all 800 MHz public safety stakeholders, mostly along the U.S.-Mexico Border, to complete the rebanding work that remains.” —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily