T-Mobile: 84 MHz of UHF Spectrum Can Be Reclaimed With Limited Impact on TV

WASHINGTON In an ex-parte filing earlier this month, T-Mobile USA demonstrated that the 600 MHz incentive auction can “readily clear at least 84 MHz of spectrum” without the participation of major network stations.

“Specifically, the 84 MHz clearing target could be achieved with limited or no participation by the “Big Eight” network-affiliated station—NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, PBS, the CW, Telemundo, or Univision—in the 600 MHz incentive auction,” the company said in its filing. ”Instead, fewer than 400 stations—representing less than 20 percent of all existing licensed broadcasters, many of them outside of the major markets—need to participate in the incentive auction to clear 84 MHz of spectrum for broadband use.”

T-Mobile found that “while reconfiguration of certain major markets will always remain relevant to a successful auction, T-Mobile’s analysis showed that secondary and tertiary markets remain surprisingly important to clearing spectrum for broadband use nationwide.”

The T-Mobile analysis made certain assumptions concerning the use of vacant Canadian and Mexican allotments and did not include Alaska and Hawaii. While the analysis used the same constraint files and baseline data (with some adjustments for DTS stations) as used in the FCC’s analysis, it did not rely on the custom software the FCC is having developed for optimizing channel repacking. T-Mobile chose an open source optimizer/solver – PicoSAT. See PicoSAT Essentials for more information on how to use it.

More details on the T-Mobile analysis are available in its Ex-parte Notice and associated presentation. Perhaps at some point in a more formal filing we’ll see more details on the T-Mobile analysis and the underlying data used in it. I would be interested in knowing how many stations would have to change channels and the impact on LPTV and TV translator stations.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack. A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.