Sprint Nextel reports continued progress on 2GHz BAS relocation project

Sprint Nextel reported major progress in the 2GHz Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) relocation project in terms of agreements reached, equipment ordered and markets completed in its bimonthly progress report submitted Oct. 1 to the FCC.

According to Sprint Nextel, two major TV markets, Chicago and Baltimore-Washington, D.C., have completed their BAS relocation since its last FCC filing. In Chicago, the largest TV market to transition so far, the project required particularly extensive replacement of equipment, including that used in 56 mobile trucks, 40 central receive sites, 10 production studio, six helicopters and two fixed links as well as the replacement of 20 portable receives and 74 portable transmitters.

Before Chicago broadcasters relocated their 2GHz BAS operations over the Sept. 26-28 weekend, they conducted extensive testing, simulating live coverage of a breaking story where more than 12 ground-based and airborne microwave units transmitted simultaneously to central receive sites on the Sears Tower and Hancock Center in downtown Chicago. According to the filing, the new digital BAS equipment proved to be less vulnerable to interference than the broadcasters’ old analog gear.

The Sept. 13 switchover to the new band plan was no less demanding in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., market. There, 64 news trucks, six helicopters, nearly two dozen fixed links and more than 100 portable BAS transmitters were replaced.

Nationwide, Sprint Nextel reported to the commission that 100 percent of broadcasters have submitted quote packages and that 97 percent have entered into frequency relocation agreements. Additionally, equipment orders fulfilled by vendors now stand at 40 percent.

The company also reported that BAS relocation target dates set to accommodate the demands of new Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) licensees for entry into specific markets have been met.

In the update, the company took a swipe at MSS operators for their lack of assistance with the relocation — something the company has repeatedly pointed to throughout the project. “The only parties absent from this process were — once again — the two MSS licensees, who long ago entered the 2GHz band through licensing, building, testing and, in ICO’s case, operating their satellite systems, but continue to do nothing to help relocate the BAS systems that encumber the 20MHz of BAS spectrum that their MSS systems occupy,” the letter said.

The letter also identified KGTF in Guam as “the only operator in the country that has not yet met” the BAS equipment inventory milestone. However, Sprint Nextel pointed out that being the only BAS operator on the island, KGTF can meet its BAS needs using any of the five remaining BAS channels above 2025MHz without participating in the relocation project.