Temporary antennas could speed broadcast incentive auction repack process

Dan Fallon, senior RF engineer at Dielectric, says temporary antennas could be the way to go for broadcasters in order to meet the 39-month time frame allotted for channel repacking after the 600 MHz incentive auction, according to TVNewsCheck.

As the FCC has maxed out its initial clearing target at 126 megahertz for the upcoming 600 MHz incentive auctions, the reality of the workload ahead for broadcasters that will need to reconfigure antennas in the move to new channels is beginning to set in. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler called broadcaster participation in the auction "robust," which translates to a whole lot of channel repacking to get done.

Fallon said the whole process of clearing out of the 600 MHz band so wireless operators can quickly put the spectrum to use for mobile broadband could be accelerated by using temporary, side-mounted omnidirectional antennas. That will get broadcasters back on the air quickly and buy them some time to start building out the bigger structures needed to replicate previously used coverage patterns.

But as TVNewsCheck points out, the multiple phase antenna buildout process is not ideal for broadcasters since the FCC requires they apply for reimbursement from the $1.75 billion channel relocation fund before the end of the three-year repack time frame, meaning broadcasters could be left holding the bag for the more expensive permanent antenna builds and installations.

Fallon said the repack rules need to be adjusted to accommodate for this two-step process. He also said broadcasters will need more than three months to estimate and submit relocation costs after receiving new channels, suggesting that six months to one year would be more appropriate.

For now, the FCC's reverse auction for broadcasters relinquishing spectrum rights is the most immediate thing on the horizon. The reverse auction for broadcasters, which will adhere to a clock phase format, will begin May 31 and could take up to one month.

The initial bidding round on May 31 will run 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. EST and the next round on June 1 will run 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. EST. Starting June 2, the daily bidding rounds will be scheduled as 10 a.m.-12 p.m. EST and 3 p.m.-5 p.m. EST.

For more:
- see this TVNewsCheck article

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