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Cell Tower News: 600 MHz auction timeline unrealistic to tower industry

NAB, NATE frustrated over ‘unrealistic’ auction timeline

The 600 MHz incentive auction is now underway, but not everyone is happy about the auction timeline. In this highly anticipated auction, television spectrum will be reallocated and sold for use by mobile and wireless companies. Once all of this spectrum is reallocated, the tower workforce will be the ones put to work, equipping towers with new technology to accommodate the additional spectrum. The timeline the Federal Communications Commission has given for completion of this entire process is 39 months. However, some think this is simply not a realistic goal and others at the very least are apprehensive about its feasibility.

RCR Wireless News spoke with the National Association of Tower Erectors Executive Director Todd Schlekeway about the upcoming auction:

While his comments seemed like general information at the time, in light of the National Association of Broadcasters’ frustration with the FCC regarding the auction and this scathing blog post, the between-the-lines narrative is a definite concern whether cell tower techs will be properly equipped to safely tackle the broadcast towers; or this will possibly cause a workforce deficit to meet the deadline, which might convince companies to speed things along, ignoring the first concern. NATE first registered an initial concern with the FCC’s repackaging deadline back in 2014.

The NAB is much more blunt about its concern, saying on its website “anyone who has any understanding of the broadcast industry knows that it is impossible to accomplish that task in such a short period of time.”

Apparently the misunderstanding between the FCC and NAB stems from an initial approval from the NAB when it was estimated only up to 400 tower sites would need work after the auction. That number has increased to 1,300, but the FCC is still pushing ahead with the original timeline. Thankfully, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has made a comment that sounds like the FCC would at least consider extending the timeline, noting in front of a recent House Appropriations Committee panel it would be “irresponsible” to not consider changing the timeline if there were more than 1,000 sites tapped once the auction is over with.

Capstan hoist & rigging safety video

NATE released a Capstan Hoist & Rigging Safety Video as part of the Association’s #ClimberConnection campaign. NATE unveiled the video at the 2016 IWCE Conference in Las Vegas.

The video highlights practical safety tips for selecting and utilizing capstan hoists. Additionally, the video footage includes a testimonial from a tower climber discussing the importance of performing function tests on the capstan hoist, checking the capstan hoist manufacturer’s guidelines before each use and emphasizing rigging best practices. The video also includes breathtaking aerial views of tower climbers utilizing a Capstan Hoist to lift antenna equipment to the designated location near the top of a monopole cellular tower.

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Featured Image Copyright: jinga / 123RF Stock Photo


Jarad Matula
Jarad Matula

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