11.04.2003 12:00 PM
Report shows 2GHz BAS conversion to digital service will exceed $500 million

The price of making the transition from existing analog ENG and fixed 2GHz microwave links to digital point-to-point service will top $500 million, according to the results of a new survey conducted by an ad hoc group of broadcast groups, station representatives, industry associations and equipment manufacturers.

The report, entitled “2003 2 GHz BAS Census & Digital Conversion Cost Estimate,” was compiled from the findings of an on-line survey the group conducted in September. More than 500 respondents, 437 of which were from full-power television stations in Neilson Designated Market Areas (DMAs) one to 200, completed the survey that was available on the Society of Broadcast Engineers Web site. The sample represents about 27 percent of the 1,643 full-power stations licensed in the top 200 DMAs.

Some of the report’s findings include:

  • The digital transition cost for the 655 fixed 2GHZ sites reported by those responding to the survey will be $65 million.

  • Based on 1,150 fixed 2GHz sites licensed in the FCC’s Universal Licensing System, the cost will actually be $115 million.

  • The transition of 2GHz ENG equipment (including transmitters, receivers and antennas) to digital in the top 210 DMAs will be about $397 million.

  • The cost for transition of all 2GHz transmitters will be $254.

  • Similar transition costs for receivers will be $53 million.

In addition to the information gathered from the survey, several other data points were used to determine the cost of the transition, including information from Economist Inc. regarding the number of stations that originate local news and manufacturers on equipment costs.

According to survey results, .5 percent of portable, 5 percent of mobile and 8 percent of existing airborne transmitters are digital and .6 percent of mobile/portable, 4.8 percent of airborne and 5.3 percent of fixed receivers were digital.

The survey revealed that 58 percent or respondents’ stations had antennas with agile feed horns needed for polarization diversity bandwidth management. When it came to accessing antennas to add polarization diversity, respondents said 23 percent of sites would be easy to get to, 42 percent were moderately accessible and 35 percent had difficult access. Of those responding, 12 percent said they knew their fixed site was already digital.

To read the entire report, please visit: http://mstv.org/docs/Ad%20Hoc%20Census%20Report.pdf.

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