WASHINGTON—Responding to the urgent need for reliable and interoperable communications in the U.S.-Mexico border area, senior telecommunications officials of both countries recently signed a spectrum sharing agreement to support first responders and other state and local public safety organizations. The agreement also supports the operations of commercial entrepreneurs who are expected to deploy advanced wireless services along the border.
For public safety licensees in the U.S., the agreement provides access to 12 MHz of primary spectrum in the border area. For commercial services, the agreement provides certainty regarding network operations for new broadband wireless service providers once broadcasters complete their conversion from analog to digital television (DTV) in spectrum now used for TV channels 52 to 69. A portion of the commercial spectrum is already in the hands of commercial licensees awaiting the completion of the DTV transition. The remainder will be auctioned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to meet a congressionally mandated deadline of Jan. 28, 2008. With the agreement, these wireless broadband service providers will have more certainty for deploying their networks near the Mexico border.
The agreement became effective on Nov. 8, 2006, when it was signed by Ambassador David A. Gross, U.S. coordinator for international communications and information policy in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, while attending a meeting with Mexican officials in Antalya, Turkey, at the Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Telecommunication Union. Senior Mexican telecommunications officials had signed the agreement on Nov. 1, 2006, in Mexico City so that it could become effective as soon as possible.
The signing comes after the U.S.-Mexico High Level Consultative Commission on Telecom-munications last July issued a joint statement expressing its intent to sign the agreement subject to completion of certain final reviews.
The agreement will be implemented by the FCC in the United States and by the Ministry of Communications and Transporta-tion and the Federal Telecom-munications Commission in Mexico.
The agreement takes the form of a protocol under a 1994 U.S.-Mexico framework agreement covering terrestrial non-broadcasting radio communication services.
The signed protocol can be found at www.state.gov/documents/organization/76000.pdf and www.fcc.gov/ib/sand/agree/ files/mex-nb/698_806.pdf. Please contact: Viktor Sidabras in the State Department at (202) 647-0677 and Charlene Lagerwerff at the Federal Communications Commission at (202) 418-1349 for more information.