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Sprint Nextel: Give Us Just A Little More Time...

In its annual report to the FCC, Sprint Nextel hinted that it won't finish the 2 GHz transition by its September deadline. Of 210 DMAs, Sprint Nextel has completed relocations in two.

While a spokesman for the company said it had not formally requested an extension from the FCC, the report states that, "Sprint Nextel anticipates requiring an additional 12 to 24 months to complete the BAS transition."

The FCC in 2004 agreed to allow Sprint Nextel (just Nextel at the time) to move from the 700 and 800 MHz bands into the lower two channels of the 2 GHz spectrum used for broadcast auxiliary service.

The deal called for Nextel, which later merged with Sprint, to put up $2.5 billion to relocate incumbent broadcasters, some of whom have not been overly enthused about being relocated. Early in the process, a dispute emerged over whether Sprint Nextel or BAS licensees would be liable for the property tax on the replacement equipment--radios, antennas, transmitters, etc. The report also said that the process was slowed down by the way some BAS operations have been cobbled together over time.

"Some of this equipment is 30 years old or older, and can prove difficult to locate because it is used only occasionally or kept as a backup in a remote location," it stated.

In his weekly RF Report, Doug Lung gives further details of the report.

When the FCC approved the move in late 2004, it set the value of the 2 GHz spectrum Sprint Nextel was moving to at $4.8 billion. If the relocation expenses plus $1.6 billion for the spectrum the company abandoned to not total that valuation, Sprint Nextel has to pay the difference.