By: Keith Pelletier
To prevent signal interference during the Spectrum Repack, the FCC has crafted a transition plan that consists of 10 phases. Stations in each major market have been assigned to different phases so that they move to their new channels according to a staggered schedule ranging from November 30, 2018 to July 3, 2020.
But what about stations that are joined at the hip because they share combined broadcast antennas but are assigned to different phases? In some cases, the antenna sharing stations are not even owned by the same entities or groups, but want to continue the arrangement to save money. What can they do?
From Dielectric’s point of view, if the sharing stations agree on the new antenna design, they could submit their plans early so we can get started on the engineering and build that antenna in time for the earlier phase.
Let’s say that Broadcaster A must move in phase 6, while antenna partner Broadcaster B must wait until phase 8. If their new channel is vacated early by its current occupant, Broadcaster B could decide to jump in and switch over early during phase 6. Or, they could have the new shared antenna ready and waiting to go when it’s their turn to move in phase 8.
If moving to the new channel early might cause interference between adjacent RF signals, the affected stations might agree to tolerate some interference until the transition is complete. If a group owns both stations, they may decide to just live with the self-interference for the time being. But if the stations are unaffiliated, they could come to an agreement that they will interfere with each other until the transition is complete.
Then there’s the situation where two stations operate separate antennas that reside on the same tower, but one is assigned to a later phase. In this case, it would be logistically prudent for both stations to have their antenna equipment ready early so that the tower crew could install both at once and finish at that tower, rather than having to come back at a later date.
We highly recommend that broadcasters coordinate with each other and get their antenna orders in as soon as possible so that we can help accommodate their install plans.