Spectrum Conference Gives Repack Good Marks So Far

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How is the repack going? Panelists at the 7th Annual Americas Spectrum Management Conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday painted a somewhat rosy picture, but also acknowledged that it is early in the television transition.

Hillary DeNigro, Deputy Chair of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force, said the repack “is going well.” She noted that stations file periodic reports telling the Commission about their experiences. If a station has a problem and believes it won’t make its deadline to move to a new channel, the agency contacts them to learn the specifics and works with the station to try and solve the problem.

The transition schedule, she said, takes into account issues with weather as winter approaches.  

ERI VP U.S. Sales, Dave Benco, says his manufacturing firm saw the repack as an opportunity to garner new business. The firm hired and trained more tower workers and is busy manufacturing antennas and transmission lines for its TV customers. However not everything related to the repack can be controlled, he noted. Guy wires need to be custom-made and the price of that cable recently increased 25 percent, he said.

T-Mobile has been paying low-power TV stations and PBS translators to move early in order to clear the spectrum more quickly. About 80 TV stations have moved to their new channel early. T-Mobile Director of Spectrum Policy Chris Wieczorek, said the carrier has spectrum monitors in place in many markets to figure out what TV stations have powered down, moved to an Aux channel or moved to their new channel.

Congress allocated $1.7 billion to reimburse full-power TV broadcasters that need to move and recently okayed an additional $50 million for co-located FMs on TV towers affected by the repack, as well as low-power TV stations and TV translators. NAB Associate General Counsel Patrick McFadden, said there will be a shortfall. Inside Towers asked how much money that could involve. McFadden and DeNigro agreed it’s too soon to tell. The agency will have a better idea in March 2019, when stations’ additional expenses become more clear.

October 4, 2018     

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