Sprint offers status report on ENG spectrum relocation at SBE conference

Sprint Nextel continues to fund the purchase and installation of new digital electronic newsgathering equipment as part of an FCC-approved deal in which TV stations must relinquish part of their ENG spectrums for cellular phone use.

Legal, cost and logistical issues continue to plague reimbursement agreements at many station groups. Despite this, Sprint said it was making significant progress.

Speaking at a three-hour training session at the Society of Broadcast Engineers’ (SBE) annual conference last week in upstate New York, Sprint Nextel representatives said the company had completed its design phase of its substantial 2GHz relocation project, and was now in the process of ordering and installing the necessary ENG equipment and training local engineers.

Station groups with agreements now in place have begun to submit purchase orders to Sprint Nextel for review and approval, said Eric McCulley, director of the relocation project for Sprint Nextel.

Engineers with signed purchase orders need to anticipate installation, according to Tim Carroll, president of RF Systems, whose company’s equipment will help facilitate the transition. He said that among the requirements for implementation, stations would most certainly have to hire extra staff.

In the meantime, engineers should assess the viability of their transmission tower sites, because aging mounting systems may not accommodate the new digital ENG equipment.

Once all of the stations in a market have gotten their purchase orders approved, Sprint Nextel will schedule market-specific training. This process begins with a daylong seminar for all chief engineers and technology supervisors in a local market. There, engineers are briefed on the theory and practice of the new system and get a thorough rundown of how their operators should be trained.

David Otey, engineering manager of Signasis’s Signa Help program, said his company had been helping train engineers in the field via three-hour on-site training sessions.

Complete information on Sprint Nextel’s relocation plan is available at www.2ghzrelocation.com.