AT&T Outlines Its Keys to Regional Spectrum Repack

AT&T has weighed in with the FCC with some details on its proposal for a regional approach to the post-spectrum auction repack of TV stations into smaller spectrum quarters to make way for winning bidders in the forward part of the incentive auction, currently underway.

In conversations with staffers and a filing, the telco, which is among the eligible bidders for spectrum in the forward part of the auction that began this week, AT&T said the plan was based on the assumption of the FCC's highest clearing target of 126 MHz, though that could be adjusted if the FCC has to scale back to a 114 MHz target if it fails to raise enough money to pay for 126 MHz.

AT&T says the key to the plan is reflecting lessons learned in past relocation efforts, including previous auctions and the DTV transition.

Related: Wheeler: FCC Accelerating Post-Auction Repack Planning

It said among those are the need for flexible coordination among stakeholders, "realistic" time and cost estimates, and "clear planning" for each project milestone as a way to mitigate risk.

AT&T says a regional approach to the repack would help avoid delays, while a national one would "expose the entire repack to risks."

The FCC and broadcasters are in general agreement that a staged repack is the way to go, but hammering down the details and the timeline within the timeline—the FCC is giving broadcasters 39 months—will be the key.

(Photo via Bill Bradford's FlickrImage taken on March 4, 2016 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 3x4 aspect ratio.)

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.