FCC Extends 2 GHz Relocation Deadline

The Sprint Nextel 2GHz relocation deadline has again been slid back, this time to March 5, 2009.

The cell phone giant is systematically replacing electronic newsgathering tranceiving gear at TV stations to claim 2 GHz spectrum for advanced wireless services. Sprint Nextel brokered the $4.8 billion deal with the FCC three years ago and subsequently was granted a two-year timetable to get the job done. The undertaking to re-engineer and replace this broadcast auxiliary service, or BAS, equipment turned out to be more complicated than originally anticipated.

Detailed documentation is required for each station. Old gear must be located and cataloged and carefully matched to new, comparable equipment. Sprint Nextel is paying to replace gear on a one-to-one basis. Broadcasters have to pay for any upgrades, and many are using the opportunity to migrate their ENG operations to hi-def.

Sprint Nextel previously received a waiver of the original September, 2007 deadline while the FCC considered a new timeframe. The order granting the 29-month extension also allows new communications services to commence in the top 30 TV markets by Jan. 1, 2009, whether the BAS transitions are complete in those markets or not.