Panelists from broadcast, wireless companies and engineering firms agree everyone wants the spectrum repack to go smoothly after the incentive auction but say there are many variables involved to consider. Some of those are known now but many are not.
Steve Sharkey of T-Mobile told NAB 2016 attendees “We want early access to the spectrum” and the company also wants stations “to be made whole with minimal disruption to viewers.”
AT&T’s Joan Marsh said “We’d like to see a plan where’s buy-in from various stakeholders within 6 months of the auction close.” There needs to be regular reporting on the plan, too.
The benefits of regional repacking were discussed. AT&T is thinking starting on the two coasts and working inward makes sense but Marsh said the company is open to other considerations.
Jay Adrick, who used to be with GatesAir and is now a consultant, said a staggered repack makes sense to avoid overloading industry resources.
Adrick called for a repack summit organized by the FCC to bring in all stakeholders. All the panelists supported that as did moderator FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai.
Dennis Wallace of Meintel, Sgrignoli & Wallace said each station’s costs will be driven by the FCC’s channel reassignment plan and he’s hearing from owners who are concerned about the structural integrity of their towers and whether they can get insurance once changes are made.