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Latest Sprint Nextel update reports significant progress on 2GHz BAS relocation project

Nearly all of the equipment required by Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) licensees to complete their relocation to frequencies above 2025MHz has been delivered, and 161 markets have completed their move to the new channels, according to the latest 2GHz BAS project update from Sprint Nextel.

The company, which along with broadcasters is clearing the portion of the 2GHz band used for analog ENG operations, made the bimonthly update as required by the FCC at the beginning of December.

The project, which initially was plagued by delays, has gained significant momentum over the past six months. According to the filing, as of the beginning of the month, 98 percent of all replacement BAS equipment has been delivered, and 96 percent of BAS operators have all of the equipment they need to complete their relocation.

Since the company’s last update submitted in October, 15 more Designated Market Areas (DMAs) have been relocated, including: Lafayette, LA; Jonesboro, AR; San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA; Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA; Monterey-Salinas, CA; Philadelphia; Syracuse, NY; Salisbury, MD; Sioux Falls, SD; Fargo-Valley City, ND; Rapid City, SD; Casper-Riverton, WY; Minneapolis-St. Paul; South Bend-Elkhart, IN; and Twin Falls, ID.

With completion of the relocation in Philadelphia and San Francisco and their surrounding markets, Sprint Nextel and the broadcast industry have cleared 2.6-million square miles from the old band plan, including all of California, the entire Eastern Seaboard, all of the Gulf Coast, most of the Southwest, the Great Lakes and the Great Plains.

The latest update also illustrated how large the effort has been in some markets. For example, to relocate the broadcasters in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose DMA required changing out 106 ENG vehicles, 52 central receive sites, two fixed links, 14 studio master controls, five helicopters and 65 portable transmitters.

Despite the remarkable progress, some problem areas remain. A total of 10 markets, or 19 percent of all unrelocated markets, are ready to transition to the new band plan with the exception of a single BAS operator in each market. In some instances, the remaining station is waiting for an installer to complete the necessary work. In others, a station has not applied for or received the necessary license from the FCC to begin using the new channels. The 10 markets include: Burlington, VT-Plattsburgh, NY; Traverse City-Cadillac, MI; Seattle-Tacoma; Wheeling, WV-Steubenville, OH; Bluefield-Beckley-Oak Hill, WV; Idaho Falls-Pocatello, ID; Tri-Cities, TN-VA; Cincinnati; Columbia-Jefferson City, MO; and Quincy, IL-Hannibal, MO-Keokuk, IA.

Two additional markets, Lafayette, IN, and Springfield, MO, are ready to begin operations on the new channels but must wait for relocation of stations in adjacent markets to avoid harmful interference. Two more markets, Charleston-Huntington, WV, and Clarksburg-Weston, WV, are completely installed and expect to begin new digital BAS operations this month, the report said. Together, these 14 markets represent 27 percent of all markets that still must be relocated to the new spectrum, the report said.

The company also reported making progress on concluding frequency relocation agreements with three New Mexico public broadcasters, including KNME-TV, Albuquerque, KENW-TV, Portales, and KRWG-TV, Las Cruces.