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BAS Relocation Completed

A simple note has appeared on the Sprint-Nextel web site dated July 14, 2010. It reads:

"Thanks to the collective efforts of the BAS Community and Sprint-Nextel, effective today, all Television DMAs have relocated to the new channel plan."

In its news release, Sprint noted that the move took more than five years and required replacing more than 100,000 pieces of equipment at more than 1,000 TV broadcast stations. Now that the move is complete, an additional 35 MHz of spectrum is available for future broadband use, including mobile satellite services (MSS).

"Sprint's completion of the BAS spectrum transition marks an important step toward President Obama's goal of freeing 500 MHz of additional wireless broadband spectrum," said Michael B. Degitz, VP of Spectrum Management for Sprint. "This newly cleared spectrum has the potential to be used to create jobs, to enhance the nation's and the telecommunications industry's economic competitiveness and to increase productivity. Sprint is pleased that it has been able to support this essential element of the President's technology agenda and the National Broadband Plan."

David Donovan, president of the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) also commented on the relocation project's end.

"These BAS systems are critical in serving local communities," Donovan said. "Because each system is unique, relocating them required a tremendous amount of engineering. We want to congratulate the broadcast-engineering community, especially those who served as MSTV-sponsored market captains, for their tireless efforts. We also want to thank our partner, Sprint, for its tremendous work in making this project a success. Together, we have upgraded newsgathering capabilities of local stations and, at the same time, provided additional spectrum for mobile satellite and wireless broadband services."

The transition has not been easy for broadcasters, with some problems still continuing to plague users. I've heard reports that several stations are having problems with their new digital microwave equipment, and as microwave equipment manufacturers cut back on support now that the relocation is complete, it may take longer for such issues to be resolved.

This may not be the last relocation for 2 GHz broadcast auxiliary service (BAS) users. As described elsewhere in this week's RF Report, the FCC is looking to use spectrum allocated for mobile satellite services for wireless broadband. Some of that spectrum was previously used for 2 GHz BAS.

Will the FCC seek to further reduce the 2 GHz BAS band to make more room for wireless broadband? Will TV broadcasters have to choose between giving up more UHF broadcast channels or giving up some 2 GHz spectrum?