In addition to the birth of the nation, the July 4 weekend also marked the official end to the 39-month 600 MHz broadcast spectrum repack. Some of the nearly 1,000 television stations moved to interim facilities to stay on-air while finishing the move to the new channel by the FCC’s July 3 deadline. Many stations used the repack to invest in technology and equipment that will better position them to transition to NextGen TV transmission.
Some stations received an FCC extension to delay completing their moves while others, such as those in the last two groups, Phases 9 and 10, completed the task using interim facilities and side-mount antennas. TV Technology reviewed the FCC’s data to find some 40 requests from full-service stations to operate from temporary facilities with reduced power while they waited for their final sites to be installed and commissioned.
Joe Davis, a consulting engineer and president of Chesapeake RF Consultants worked with 120 stations. “We were short on tower crews and that has aggravated the situation with the final operations,” says Davis. “I have clients who were able to get their tower crew and install their interim antenna, and they were able to affect the cut-over with that, but then they had to wait for that crew or another crew to come back and do the final antenna.”
“In all cases, we tried to maximize our clients’ coverage area because their pre-transition facility may have been boxed in on an existing frequency,” Ryan Wilhour, consulting engineer at Kessler and Gehman Engineering Associates, told TV Technology.
Qualifying repack expense reimbursement requests were limited to what a station had before the repack, however many chose to pay extra to upgrade their transmission capability to NextGen TV. Several stations also replaced tube transmitters with modern solid-state models with software upgradeable exciters that can be converted to NextGen TV.