Sprint Nextel Files 2 GHz Transition Update

Sprint Nextel said it moved ENG operations in 12 more markets over the last two months, bringing the total to 88 stations in 30 markets.

Sprint Nextel, the Overland Park, Kan. cell phone operator, is replacing electronic newsgathering equipment at TV stations around the country per its deal with the FCC to move into the 2 GHz spectrum.

The company is marking progress in terms of steps completed. E.g., of 1,067 affected TV stations, inventory submissions and verifications are 100 percent complete; 97 percent have submitted quote packages; 83 percent have come to relocation agreements; and 28 percent of equipment orders have been fulfilled. A total of 174, or 18 percent, have installed the new gear; 88 or 9 percent, are considered relocated and 69 stations--6 percent--have closed contracts with Sprint Nextel.

The original deadline for the project was September of last year, but it proved more formidable than originally anticipated and the FCC subsequently extended the deadline to next March.

Meanwhile, Sprint Nextel continues to run into unforeseen circumstances, according to its progress report, filed with the FCC

“â?¦replacing decades-old BAS equipment with new integrated systems can pose immense practical challenges that often remain unknown and unknowable until installation begins,” the filing stated. “In Greensboro, N.C., for example, the installation team hired by the affected TV station at Sprint Nextel“s expense recently encountered asbestos in the ceiling of the multi-party data and systems management center where the BAS equipment had to be housed.

“After consultation with the building owner, the asbestos specialist cautioned against encapsulating the ceiling based on his assessment that adding any weight to the ceiling would increase the chances of dispersal.”

The specialist recommended wrapping all of the affected air-cooled equipment in air-tight plastic, which would have caused it to overheat. Sprint Nextel said it“s looking for alternatives, and the company noted how the asbestos encounter illustrates the type of complications that simply can“t be anticipated.

“Despite expert planning and preparation,” Sprint Nextel“s representative wrote, “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.”