Sprint Nextel completes 2GHz BAS relocation project

Sprint Nextel completed the 2GHz Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) relocation project July 14, transitioning broadcasters nationwide to new compressed digital channels between 2025MHz and 2110MHz for ENG and other contribution applications.

Costing about $750 million, the project, which began in 2005, frees up 35MHz of spectrum, which will be used nationwide for consumer broadband services.

"Sprint's completion of the BAS spectrum transition marks an important step toward President Obama's goal of freeing 500MHz of additional wireless broadband spectrum," said Michael Degitz, vice president of spectrum management for Sprint, in a statement released to the press July 20.

According to the company, more than 1000 engineers, technicians, tower climbers and laborers worked together to replace aging analog microwave and electronic newsgathering equipment with more than 100,000 pieces of new digital equipment. About 1000 TV broadcasters in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. territories took part in the transition.

Commenting on the completion of the project, NAB CEO and President Gordon Smith pointed to the importance of the new technology in newsgathering to meet the needs of the public. "The state-of-the-art, electronic newsgathering equipment that was deployed for the BAS transition is enabling broadcasters to provide the American public with the valuable live news, information and public service programming that they have come to expect from our nation's free, local, over-the-air TV stations," Smith said in the press statement.

The company notified the FCC of the BAS project's completion in a regulatory filing on July 15 when it completed the Anchorage, AK, designated market area. Anchorage was the last of 213 markets to be transitioned.

Sprint began the BAS spectrum transition project following the 2004 FCC decision to implement a plan to resolve ongoing interference between public safety and commercial operations in the 800MHz band.

Sprint's financial and spectrum contributions to the FCC's 800MHz Reconfiguration Plan included retuning BAS incumbents to a new, more efficient band plan, thus clearing the 1990MHz-1995MHz spectrum block for Sprint and the 1995MHz-2025MHz block for mobile satellite and future broadband services.