Broadcasters have no time to delay 2GHz BAS work

While a filing June 2 with the FCC shows that the pace of the 2GHz Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) relocation has quickened dramatically, completing the project expeditiously will depend on broadcasters cutting purchase orders for new microwave equipment and lining up installers without hesitation, said Michael Degitz, VP of spectrum at Sprint Nextel.

“Once the FRA (frequency relocation agreement) is signed, it really becomes the responsibility of the broadcaster to get the gear ordered and installed,” Degitz said. “There seems to be some delay in getting those POs out to the installers.”

With hundreds of markets still needing to install new digital microwave electronic newsgathering (ENG) equipment, unnecessary delays impede the smooth scheduling of limited installer resources. Another reason for delay is the inevitable unexpected circumstances that arise at the site, he said.

In its June filing, Sprint Nextel recalled the case of Greensboro, NC, where workers unexpectedly encountered asbestos, halting work and slipping the schedule for the market. Since then, a solution has been found, he said.

Other delays are easier to eliminate. In one instance, installers arrived at a tower to mount new digital BAS equipment only to find that the owner of the tower had a crew at work on the tower doing maintenance, Degitz said. The incident not only pushed back the conversion of the station involved, but also prevented the entire market from switching to the new band on schedule.

According to Degitz, Sprint Nextel conducts two conference calls per month with installers and equipment vendors to resolve problems and keep the project on track. But the company can only go so far. “We can’t install this stuff for broadcasters,” Degitz said. “It’s really their responsibility.”