The latest report to the FCC from Sprint Nextel shows continued progress on the relocation effort to move Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) licensees to new 12MHz-wide digital channel assignments in the 2GHz band.
In a letter dated Aug. 1 to the commission, Sprint Nextel reported that 91 percent of 968 primary BAS broadcasters eligible for relocation have executed frequency relocation agreements (FRAs) with the company. Additionally, 99 percent of those broadcasters have submitted quote packages for the equipment and services necessary to make the transition.
As in the last update to the commission, Sprint Nextel pointed out that it, along with many of the BAS incumbents, have experienced challenging circumstances in executing the FCC mandate to complete the transition. For example, broadcasters in Reno, NV, use towers atop Slide Mountain, 10,000ft above sea level. When crews attempted to do a site survey of the facilities on the mountain in May, which were only accessible via snowcat, they found buildings, towers and cable troughs buried in 10ft of snow and ice. As a result, work was postponed for a later date when conditions had improved, delaying the successful transition of the market until July 30.
The company also pointed to a few other noteworthy accomplishments since its last update submitted to the commission in June. Specifically, the Columbus, GA, market has completed its transition ahead of schedule and BAS licensees in the Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL, DMA completed their transition in mid-July.
The Tampa transition was especially demanding given the number of BAS licensees and amount of equipment in the market. According to the company, transitioning the market required replacing equipment in 34 electronic newsgathering (ENG) trucks, four helicopters and dozens of fixed and portable microwave links.
Sprint Nextel also reported that its efforts to accelerate the 2GHz BAS transition in markets where Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) operators, which will take over some of the spectrum freed up by the transition, have requested expedited action are making progress. Fourteen of the 25 markets where MSS licensees Terrestar and ICO have requested the BAS transition be accelerated have completed their relocation. Additionally, all broadcast incumbents in the 11 remaining high-priority markets have submitted signed FRAs and submitted purchase orders for replacement RF equipment and services.