Joint BAS parties seek commission assurances on MSS licensee conditions

Three broadcast industry groups and Sprint Nextel asked the FCC March 4 to require a Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) licensee, which will use a portion of the spectrum being freed up by the 2GHZ Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) relocation project, to fulfill its obligations to make the effort a success.

In a letter to the commission from the NAB, the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV), the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) and Sprint Nextel, the group urged the FCC to make sure MSS licensee New ICO Satellite Services pays its prorated share of relocation costs. The group also asked the commission to ensure that ICO adheres to its obligation to relocate BAS operations in the top 30 TV markets and all fixed systems nationwide. Additionally, the group sought assurance that the commission would see to it that the MSS licensee avoids interfering with broadcasters’ electronic newsgathering (ENG) transmissions.

The letter responds to points raised by ICO in recent correspondence with the commission in which it asked the regulator to impose four conditions on the aforementioned group. The conditions include:

  • Allowing ICO to conduct an MSS system test by April 2008 in Brewster, WA; South Easton, MA; and Ellenwood, GA.
  • Early relocation of BAS incumbents in Las Vegas and Raleigh-Durham, NC, to allow ICO to begin a trial of its MSS service.
  • An obligation on the part of the group to file monthly status reports on the BAS relocation effort.
  • Receiving access nationwide to a portion of the existing BAS bands by January 2009.

Additionally, ICO sought relief from any responsibility for the BAS relocation.

In the letter to the FCC, the group agreed to permit ICO to conduct the tests in the Brewster, WA, South Easton, MA, and Ellenwood, GA, markets even though they will not be transitioned to new BAS channels by April as long as ICO agrees to cease its tests if they generate harmful interference. The letter also agreed to ICO’s second and third conditions. However, it rejected the final condition, saying, “the record is devoid of information that explains how ICO might share spectrum in, or geographically adjacent to, untransitioned BAS market areas.”

The letter also asked the commission to affirm that ICO must be a part of the relocation solution and fulfill its obligation to “pay its fair share of the cost of transitioning BAS licensees above 2025MHz.” Additionally, the letter asked the commission to require ICO to share technical information with broadcasters “to determine whether coexistence is feasible.”

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