By most accounts, transmitter manufacturers and suppliers of antennas and RF components are doing a good job so far of keeping up with the rapid spike in demand caused by the repack. But weather problems are causing major problems for tower crews and delaying a growing number of projects. And repack insiders fear a more significant backup this summer and fall.
Top of mind this week for managers and engineers alike will be hitting the FCC’s July 12 deadline for initial construction permit and repack expense reimbursement filings. But in the rush to get that done, it’s important not to lose sight of future possibilities like single frequency network operation.
For tower owners and inspectors, there is a growing appeal for using drones to perform inspections — and perhaps someday, when the technology is ripe, to actually make repairs. Given the risks involved in climbing towers, the ability to substitute a machine for a human makes sense. But be aware that the current FAA rules will restrict tower inspections by drones in certain situations.
This week, the FCC conducted a webinar to explain the spectrum repack plan laid out in its Sept. 30 public notice. Leading voices in the broadcast industry gave the plan a less-than-enthusiastic response, citing a variety of specific shortcomings. But the underlying reason for the halfhearted reaction may have more to do with what is seen as the near impossibility of completing the repack in 39 months.
If you own a tower that’s between 50 and 200 feet tall, the chances are that you don’t have to mark it to satisfy any FAA standards, which makes your life easy. But that may be about to change.