T-Mobile Pledges to Cover Repack Costs for PBS TV Translators
T-Mobile, PBS and America’s Public Television Stations(APTS) reached an agreement whereby the carrier pledged to pick-up repack costs for local public television low-power translators. T-Mobile did not name a specific cost figure yesterday, however PBS and APTS said the money could go towards keeping service for up to 38 million viewers in rural markets.
Commercial and non-commercial television stations must give their cost estimates to change channels and also file construction permit applications by July 12. TV translators displaced by the auction that must move are not covered in the $1.75 billion the FCC has set aside for repack reimbursement funds. PBS and APTS call TV translators “critical infrastructure” that’s “essential for extending the reach of TV broadcast signals deep into rural America.”
NAB praised the move, with association EVP Communications Dennis Wharton stating: “We are gratified to see T-Mobile embrace the principle that viewers should not lose service during the repack. We will continue to work to ensure that viewers are protected during the post-auction transition.”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai also praised the arrangement, calling the deal a “creative solution” that will also help expand wireless connectivity in rural America. T-Mobile has also partnered with broadcast equipment manufacturer Electronics Research Inc. to assure availability of antennas and tower crews associated with the repack, Inside Towersreported.
T-Mobile spent nearly $8 billion on 1,525 licenses of the 600 MHz low-band spectrum sold in the FCC’s broadcast incentive auction. In rural areas without TV stations, the carrier intends to test new equipment and mount that on towers, planning to quickly deploy 5G in its low-band 600 MHz spectrum across its existing nationwide macro network. The 5G rollout is expected to begin in 2019, with a target of 2020 for full nationwide coverage.