Sprint Nextel tell the FCC that over the past 60 days more than a dozen markets, including the major one of Southern California, have made the transition to new ENG microwave frequencies.
Having completed the digital upgrade and frequency relocation of ENG microwave operations of TV stations in Southern California, Sprint Nextel reported today that 131 markets covering 62 percent of the U.S. population have now made the transition.
Over the past 60 days, Sprint Nextel said in its bimonthly report to the FCC on the project, more than a dozen other markets have made the transition, including Birmingham, Ala.; New Orleans; Lubbock, Texas; Youngstown, Ohio; Nashville, Tenn.; Greenwood-Greenville, Miss.; San Angelo, Tex; Detroit; Boston; Providence, R.I.; Shreveport, La.; Tyler, Texas; and Wichita, Kan.
The transition of the Los Angeles cluster stretching from Santa Barbara to Palm Springs was a “major milestone,” the company said. “The cluster contains by far the most electronic newsgathering equipment of any DMA in the nation,” it said, noting that the gear includes 192 mobile trucks, 14 helicopters and 258 portable transmitters.
In exchange for wireless spectrum, Sprint Nextel has agreed to reimburse broadcasters and other users of the broadcast auxiliary service (BAS) for the cost of switching to digital in a repacked BAS band.
The reimbursement program, which has been plagued by delays, was to have been completed by June 2008.
Sprint Nextel said it has made substantial progress. Ninety two percent of all BAS equipment has been delivered, it said, and 66 percent of it has been installed.
But hangups remain.
Three New Mexico noncommercial TV stations — KNME Albuquerque, KENW Portales and KRWG Las Cruces — and Elena Cohen, a freelance ENG operator in New York and the other BAS licensees have yet to sign basic reimbursement agreements, it said.
“Unless quickly remedied, … the continued inability of the four BAS operators to enter … [agreements] may delay the BAS transition in their areas,” it said.