Nine More Stations Complete BAS Transition

Since April 1, nine more television markets have completed the 2 GHz transition for Broadcast Auxiliary Services, according to a June 2 report from Sprint Nextel. That brings the total number of converted markets to 30 markets comprising 88 stations.

Trey Hanbury, director of Sprint Nextel, said in the report that 100 percent of the markets had kicked off the transition process with inventory submissions and verifications. About 97 percent of broadcasters have submitted quote packages, and broadcasters and Sprint Nextel have signed 83 percent of the needed agreements. The number of equipment orders fulfilled now stands at 28 percent of the total required to complete the move.

In the BAS conversion, narrower digital channels in the 2 GHz range are replacing analog channels, with Sprint Nextel providing the needed equipment to broadcasters. The deadline for completion of the entire process is March 5, 2009.

Some markets are just one station away from completing the process. In Tampa, Fla., for example, 13 of 14 television stations are prepared to relocate and will do so after the remaining station finishes its equipment installation in June. Five of the six stations in Jacksonville, Fla., are prepared to move to the new band plan and the last should complete the installation process in June.

Sprint Nextel has encountered at least one tough obstacle—asbestos in Greensboro, N.C., in the facility where the new BAS gear was to be located. The abatement programs recommended by a specialist would require the wrapping of air-cooled equipment, including unrelated broadcast and public-safety equipment at the same site, in airtight plastic.

That would likely result in overheating and equipment failure. The problem remains unresolved, Sprint Nextel said, which added that the situation represents the myriad unforeseen obstacles encountered during the transition.

“Despite expert planning and preparation, every BAS facility is different and the parties are likely to encounter other unexpected challenges as each of the nearly 1,000 stations involved in the BAS transition work through their own unique installation and integration issues,” the report said.

As part of the Sprint Nextel BAS conversion initiative, the company was required by the FCC to file progress reports with the Commission every two months beginning in April 2008.

The nine markets to complete the transition in April or May were Houston; Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Fla; Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Va.; Corpus Christi, Texas; Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas; Tuscon, Ariz.; Phoenix; Charlotte, N.C.; and Chattanooga, Tenn.