FCC Marks Completion of Repack Project, Clearing Way for Wireless

The Federal Communications Commission announced that the post-incentive auction transition successfully hit its July 13, 2020, deadline. While a few stations were granted deadline extensions, completing the transition means that key 600 MHz band spectrum is now open for wireless use, including emerging 5G networks.

The 39-month effort was spread across 10 phases, the last of which concluded earlier this month. The project, known informally as the repack, included some 987 full-power and Class A TV stations, which were reassigned to new channels to clear the 600 MHz band for wireless services. As of today, the FCC touts that 99 percent of those stations have successfully switched over to their new channels, while a handful of stations were granted extensions for what the commission called “unforeseeable circumstances.” Those remaining stations are expected to complete their transitions by the end of the summer and the FCC says none of those extensions should interfere with planned wireless service rollouts using the newly available spectrum.

“Today represents a major milestone in the Commission’s goal to repurpose spectrum to meet the demands of today’s wireless consumer,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in remarks at the American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research. “The 600 MHz band is already being used to provide mobile broadband, including 5G service, to Americans across the country. And with the end of the repack, we’ll see even broader and deeper deployment.”

The National Association of Broadcasters also released a statement to mark the repack’s official conclusion. And while NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith lauded the work that’s been done so far to hit deadlines, he pointed out the job isn’t quite done just yet.

“There is still much work to be done,” Smith said in a press release. “To meet FCC deadlines, many stations have been required to operate on temporary facilities that do not serve all station viewers. NAB will continue to work with the FCC to ensure that these stations are made whole, and that affected viewers regain access to their local channels.”

We’ll continue to follow the FCC’s efforts and we’ll update you as we learn more.

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