FCC Grants Second 60-Day BAS Extension, Requires Industry Update by Dec. 6

The FCC Tuesday granted a second 60-day extension to Sprint Nextel for completing the transition of BAS systems to their new frequencies in about 2.025 GHz.

The FCC also ordered Sprint Nextel, the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV), NAB and the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) to submit a consensus plan or specific proposal on the transition by Dec. 6.

On Sept. 4, the groups asked the FCC to extend the original Sept. 7 by 29 months (to January 2010). The FCC then granted a 60 day extension (till Nov. 6) while it considered the proposed 29-month delay. The new extension runs to Jan. 5, 2008.

The FCC noted that granting the 29-month extension would delay the start of mobile-satellite services (MSS).

“Because any action we take... has the potential to affect the interests of multiple parties, we conclude that it serves the public interest to promote further discussions with the anticipation that doing so will result in a consensus plan or specific proposals that allow the MSS licensees to initiate service in the band while avoiding MSS-BAS interference and continuing the BAS transition,“ the FCC said.

For Sprint Nextel, moving forward will probably mean finding a plan for completing the transition market by market to enable local deployment of MSS.

Sprint Nextel has bought $4.8 billion worth of affected spectrum from the government and has committed to paying $500 million for new BAS equipment for broadcasters moving from analog to digital BAS systems and switching to narrower channels in a different part of the 2 GHz spectrum.