Last month, T-Mobile submitted a letter voicing its support for the 39-month timeline that the FCC has proposed for repacking the spectrum that’ll be bought from TV broadcasters and then used by wireless carriers. Now the National Association of Broadcasters has responded, saying that T-Mo’s report has “significant flaws.”
“T-Mobile’s theory relies on three wishes,” the NAB argues, the first being that the antennas that are currently in use require little work. The NAB says that it’s been told by manufacturers that one-third of antennas will need to be removed and remanufactured to operate on the new channel. The NAB also claims that T-Mo “overstates [the] flexibility of ‘broadband’ antennas” and that T-Mo’s suggestion that the broadband antennas would work across a range of frequencies with little adjustments is a “serious underestimation of the time required to repack stations.”
The second argument that the NAB makes is that there are not as many qualified tower crews ready to do work as T-Mobile suggested. “T-Mo ignores the fact that weather, manufacturing delays, and other complications prevent year-round work,” the NAB argues. It goes on to say that T-Mobile suggested that as many as 41 tower crews are ready to work, that number includes some crews that no longer do broadcast work, and that some of them are not “experienced, trusted partners.”
Finally, the NAB says that the 39-month timeline assumes that work will start on day one and that everything will go smoothly. The NAB suggests that that may not be the case, though, saying that “there will be hiccups beyond anyone’s control.”
“NAB remains interested in working constructively with other stakeholders to address the repacking challenge,” the NAB says in its letter. “Rather than engage with us, however, T-Mobile has concentrated on commissioning an outcome-driven, oversimplified and misleading analysis, and developing a repacking plan in isolation.” The NAB goes on to express disappointment with the FCC’s actions, saying that it’s only interested in the expediency of the auction and “is imploring broadcasters to be optimistic and simply trust that the optimization process will work as yet unforeseen miracles.” The NAB wraps it’s letter by saying that while it respects the FCC, “‘trust’ is not enough when the result of inadvertent failure is the death penalty for hundreds of broadcast stations.”
You can check out the NAB’s full letter and PowerPoint presentation right here.