Editor's Note: The following column is the first in a quarterly series of articles from Sprint Nextel detailing progress on broadcasters' relocation to the 2 GHz BAS.
RESTON, VA: On behalf of Sprint Nextel, I'd like to thank TV Technology for providing this space to share information and progress on the 2 GHz relocation, an issue of great importance to many. Many of you know that the FCC has mandated 800 MHz band reconfiguration in order to eliminate 800 MHz public safety radio interference. This effort will eliminate radio interference at 800 MHz from commercial mobile radio service operators and provide the clearer communications police, fire and EMS need to serve and protect our nation.
(click thumbnail)Broadcast relocation to the new channel plan
To make this possible, and in consideration for both returning 8.5 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz and 800 MHz bands as well as funding the 800 MHz band reconfiguration, Sprint Nextel was allocated 10 MHz of spectrum, 5 MHz of which the FCC had originally licensed to certain Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) providers. As many of you know, years ago, the FCC mandated that Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) licensees using the current 1990-2110 MHz band have to convert from the current seven-channel 17 MHz channel plan to a new seven-channel 12 MHz channel plan, which extends from 2025 to 2110 MHz and replace or upgrade their equipment to operate on the new frequencies. This was done to make way for new entrants, such as MSS and now Sprint Nextel. In its 800 MHz Report and Order released last year, the FCC ordered that Sprint Nextel facilitate the 2 GHz relocation in addition to the 800 MHz band reconfiguration and imposed specific deadlines to get this important undertaking completed. Sprint Nextel is funding the costs related to the effort to provide current BAS band users with comparable facilities on their new spectrum allocation.
The relocation process officially kicked off in February 2005 and is scheduled to be completed by September 2007. To meet this aggressive timeline, Sprint Nextel has a dedicated team of industry experts overseeing the relocations and working internal cost estimates with industry organizations that represent licensees' interests.
OVERVIEW OF THE PROCESS
Sprint Nextel has divided the country into eight regions. Multiple markets within each region will be relocated at the same time, maximizing the use of resources and enabling the relocations across the country to occur efficiently.
The relocation process with each broadcast licensee has eight steps and takes anywhere from five to eighteen months, depending on the size of the market and weather conditions. Generally, relocation activities follow in this order:
Market Kick-Off: The broadcaster and Sprint Nextel meet to develop a marketwide relocation project plan and timeframe, and hold discussions regarding project procedures as developed in a Broadcaster Information Guide, which will be given to the broadcaster at the initiation of the market kick-off. The broadcaster should also use this time to plan a self-inventory of equipment and services, conduct research and talk with others to understand the general process and their responsibilities.
Inventory and Verification Process: The broadcaster completes a self-inventory in the 2 GHz Relocation Inventory Tool (http://inventory.2ghzrelocation.com). Once completed, vendors from the broadcast industry perform inventory verification so that nothing is forgotten. Once the broadcaster reviews the verified inventory, they can request quotations from equipment manufacturers and service providers required for the relocation process.
Broadcaster/Sprint Nextel Com-pensation Agreement: After the broadcaster has gathered internal cost estimates and quotations from equipment vendors and installation companies, discussions of compensation will be held with Sprint Nextel to reach a contract agreement.
Equipment Order Submission: The broadcaster submits a purchase order for needed equipment to its regional Sprint Nextel project manager for approval. Following approval, the broadcaster submits the purchase order to the appropriate vendor.
Vendor Fulfillment: The broadcaster begins internal planning for equipment installation, while the vendor is fulfilling the purchase order, and files a license modification with the FCC. Since Sprint Nextel has been actively pre-purchasing inventory for this project from the major manufacturers, it is anticipated that normal delivery times will be four to eight weeks.
Equipment Installation: Broadcast-ers use a phased approach to install their new equipment based on a "narrow-in-place" plan (12 MHz BAS operations using existing channel plan).
Channel Relocation: On a market-wide agreed-upon date, all broadcasters in the market convert to new mode of operation. Most often, the relocation will be overnight during a weekend to cause the least disturbance to broadcast operations.
Closing: Sprint Nextel completes reconciliation of payments from broadcaster's submitted receipts.
As of Oct. 5, 74 TV markets have been kicked-off, including New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Denver, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. More than 400 television licensees around the country are now engaged in the relocation process. Relocations are scheduled to take place starting in January 2006, with three to five occurring each month. Obviously, there is a long road ahead, but we are encouraged with the initial success.
IINITAL STEPS FOR LICENSEES
Check to see if there are any regional SBE, SMPTE, state and regional broadcasters' association events being held in your area. Often, there will be a representative from Sprint Nextel there to give a presentation and answer questions.
Once the relocation process officially kicks-off in your market, someone from your station (or someone your station hires) needs to perform an inventory, note all the equipment including transmitters, receivers, antennas, control systems and related hardware, as well as their corresponding model number. This information then needs to be fed into an online inventory form found on the Sprint Nextel 2 GHz Web site where each piece of equipment will be given an ID number. This station-prepared inventory will then be checked by a verification vendor.
By participating in this important initiative, broadcasters are not only helping safeguard emergency communications for first responders, but are also advancing technology and stability for broadcasters in the long term. Broadcasters are understandably focused on completing this relocation quickly and efficiently, and we at Sprint Nextel share these priorities. Sprint Nextel is a proud participant in this effort and looks forward to working together with licensees.
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