Repack Tower Work Predicted to Peak Next Year

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American Tower Corp. has been helping broadcasters with stations on its towers develop a repack plan. Of the 987 stations being repacked, the towerco has 218 licensees on 133 towers, according to James Stenberg, Principal Engineer, RF Broadcast for American.

The company has categorized the type of tower work needed, from antenna work to moderate modifications to complex jobs, such as candelabra towers or heavily loaded smaller towers, he told attendees at the IEEE Broadcast Symposium in the Washington, D.C. area last Thursday. “There’s a lot of work early on” in the schedule, he said. “The peak is next year.”

“We’ve done over 100 mappings,” he said, adding the towerco also did structural baselines for many of its towers involved in the repack, including “projected load scenarios.” AMT has some 30 people on its repack team and procured nearly $4 million of transmission line and antennas to prep for the repack. “We hired several vendors, general contractors and tower crews.” 

Both Stenberg and Joe Seccia, Manager for TV Transmission Market and Product Development Strategy for GatesAir, noted the FCC repack schedule does not take bad weather into account. Seccia said 62 Canadian stations need to move and “right now” neither their government nor ours plan to reimburse them. These are stations that share a tower with a station forced to change channels.

He emphasized “there’s no slack and no float” in the repack schedule. Those were the rules of the auction. “Now, as we start executing” the moves, “we’ll see how it plays out.”

A year from now, according to the FCC’s 10-phase construction schedule, a station must be moved every three days, he estimated. In the next segment, three stations a day must relocate. “We had six years to do the DTV transition. We’ve got three years for this,” said Seccia.

October 16, 2017   

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