Broadcast Sports nears agreement on 2GHz relocation

Broadcast Sports in Odenton, MD, is near concluding an agreement with Sprint Nextel for replacement of about 700 microwave transmitter/receivers as part of the Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) relocation project, said company general manager Peter Larsson.

The company, which in Larsson’s estimation provides nearly all of the in-car camera and RF systems for motor racing and about 70 percent of RF camera links used to cover golf, is believed to be one of the largest single users of point-to-point microwave transmission equipment covered under the BAS relocation plan.

The Federal Communications Commission has mandated that broadcasters, fixed link service users and others using 1990MHz to 2110MHz spectrum band must replace or upgrade their transmission facilities to operate on 12MHz-wide digital channels between 2025MHz and 2110 MHz by Sept. 7, 2007.

According to Larsson, Broadcast Sports is on the same deadline as other BAS users to relocate and begin digital operation. However, Broadcast Sports and a handful of other companies that provide RF links at sporting events for the networks face an unusual circumstance in which they may be in a location one weekend where the changeover has happened and the next where analog operation under the old band plan is still being used, he said.

Therefore, Broadcast Sports will retain its analog transmitters and receivers until all markets have made the switch, Larsson said. “When the transition is complete, we will return our (analog) equipment,” he said.

According to Larsson, Broadcast Sports is in negotiations with Microwave Radio Communications in North Billerica, MA, for microwave replacement equipment that he estimates to have a value of $15 million. An important factor in Broadcast Sports’ decision to select MRC as the supplier of replacement transmitter/receivers was its common ownership with Link Research, which has pioneered RF camera transmitters for high definition use, he said. Both companies are owned by Vislink.

The transition also will result in a “leveling of the playing field” among the few companies providing RF links for sports production, he said. “In the past, we used technology as a great differentiator of services, but after the relocation we will be playing the same game,” he said.