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FCC Grants Sprint Nextel 60-Day BAS Extension

Last Friday, September 7, was the deadline set for Sprint Nextel to complete the 2 GHz broadcast auxiliary microwave relocation. Anyone working on the transition knows there is a lot more work to do before users of the 2 GHz broadcast auxiliary service (BAS) frequencies can convert to digital and free up spectrum at 1990 to 2025 MHz. Sprint Nextel cannot begin using spectrum at 1990 MHz until the transition is complete. The Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV), the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) joined Sprint Nextel in requesting an extension of the deadline.

The FCC issued an Order waiving the 2 GHz deadline for 60 days, until Nov. 6, 2007. Obviously there is no way the transition can be completed in 60 days, but it will give the FCC time to study the issues raised in the petition from Sprint Nextel and the other groups. Sprint Nextel is not the only company waiting for broadcasters to clear 1990-2025 MHz. If you have been following the Satellite Update section in RF Report, you know two Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) are planning to use this spectrum. While both companies have experienced some delays in getting their systems operational, it is possible they will need the spectrum before Sprint Nextel is able to complete the conversion.

It’s in broadcasters’ interest to complete the 2 GHz relocation as soon as possible. If Sprint Nextel fails in its relocation effort, MSS operators may not have the same incentive to cover broadcasters’ costs in converting their 2 GHz band ENG and 2 GHz fixed links to digital.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.