"The Joint Parties have invested heavily in anticipating and solving potential problems at the outset and are now making rapid progress," the filing stated. "The Commission can assure that these substantial up-front investments in equipment, processes, and personnel produce their intended benefits by granting additional time to complete the BAS transition."
Broadcasters and Sprint have spent the last two years working with hundreds of companies, including BAS equipment vendors, integrators and contractors to develop template agreements, pre-stock inventory, stage systems integration prior to installation, and add staff to meet anticipated demand. As a result, the pace of the BAS transition has steadily improved. Nearly all of the nation’s nearly 1,000 BAS stations have completed inventories of their facilities and equipment-a critical step in the transition process - and 59 percent of the nation’s primary BAS licensees have approved supply and pricing plans for new equipment.
Since the last formal update to the FCC in March, finalized inventories increased by 21 percent, approved quote packages increased by 97 percent, and signed relocation agreements jumped by 104 percent. The number of licensees submitting purchase orders, the number of purchase orders completely fulfilled, and the number of equipment installations have all doubled since the update.
Despite this progress, more time is needed to effectively complete the BAS transition. Every stage of the transition - from inventory, to competitive bidding, to contracting, to provisioning, to training, to programming, to installation and reconfiguration - has entailed challenges beyond the control of the broadcast industry and Sprint as they try to replace twenty-five years worth of equipment in about 2.5 years.
"Awarding an additional twenty-nine months for Sprint Nextel and the BAS licensees to overcome the unanticipated obstacles and complexities they have faced will not only provide for the most expeditious relocation of the BAS licensees possible, but also ensure that viewers around the nation can continue to receive important local news, weather and sports reports from the field," the filing stated.
While asking for more time, both the broadcasters and Sprint are pushing to complete the transition and made clear they are looking for an extension rather than a delay.
"...(T)his waiver request is in no way intended to excuse any stakeholder from diligently meeting these requirements. On the contrary, the Joint Parties have strong business incentives to complete the BAS transition as quickly as possible."
The Association for Maximum Service Television, Inc. (MSTV) is the leading technical trade association for the television broadcasting industry. With more than 550 members, it has been a leader in the transition from analog to digital television. MSTV has been actively involved in the BAS relocation process. For more information, please visit www.mstv.org.
About Sprint Nextel
Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including two robust wireless networks serving 54 million customers at the end of the second quarter 2007; industry-leading mobile data services; instant national and international walkie-talkie capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. For more information, visit www.sprint.com.
The National Association of Broadcasters is a trade association that advocates on behalf of more than 8,300 free, local radio and television stations and also broadcast networks before Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and the Courts. Information about NAB can be found at www.nab.org.
The Society of Broadcast Engineers is the professional organization of television and radio engineers and those in related fields. SBE has more than 5,400 members in 112 chapters across the United States. There are also members in more than 20 other countries. Most chapters meet monthly and offer educational programs and an opportunity to network with other engineers. SBE offers the largest and most recognized certification program for broadcast engineers, operators and technicians, with more than 5,000 certifications currently active.
SOURCE: Sprint Nextel
Scott Sloat, Sprint, 301-951-2816 David L. Donovan, MSTV, 202-966-1956 John Poray, SBE, 317-846-9000 Dennis Wharton, NAB, 202-429-5350