You know that "National Broadband Plan" that the world keeps yapping about? Sprint's down with it, and has been since before it ever existed, apparently. Based on a glowing press release outed this week by the carrier, it has just wrapped up a five year initiative to free 35MHz of highly valuable spectrum needed for future broadband expansion. After spending a cool $750 million from 2005 to 2010, the company has now cleared 35MHz of broadcast auxiliary service (BAS) spectrum across the country, though there's obviously some ways to go before Obama has 500MHz of cleared spectrum at his disposal. As it stands, Sprint has transitioned the broadcast auxiliary services to a new, more efficient spectrum plan in the 2GHz frequency band, and while the exact hows and whens have yet to be laid out, we're hearing that this could provide access to "faster, cheaper broadband services" in the future. Huzzah?
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Sprint Clears 35 MHz of Spectrum for Future Broadband Use

-- Over five years, 100,000 pieces of television broadcasting equipment replaced at more than 1,000 television broadcast stations nationwide
-- Project frees new spectrum for mobile satellite service providers, new broadband competitors and Sprint

OVERLAND PARK, Kan., Jul 20, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) --

Today, Sprint (NYSE:S) announced that it has completed the transition of 35 MHz of broadcast auxiliary service (BAS) spectrum across the country. The conclusion of the project, which was begun in 2005 and completed at an estimated cost of approximately $750 million, establishes a new, more efficient spectrum band plan that clears the way for millions of consumers nationwide to gain faster and cheaper access to innovative new broadband services.

"Sprint's completion of the BAS spectrum transition marks an important step toward President Obama's goal of freeing 500 MHz of additional wireless broadband spectrum," said Michael B. Degitz, vice president, Spectrum Management for Sprint. "This newly cleared spectrum has the potential to be used to create jobs, to enhance the nation's and the telecommunications industry's economic competiveness and to increase productivity. Sprint is pleased that it has been able to support this essential element of the President's technology agenda and the National Broadband Plan."

More than 1,000 highly skilled engineers, technicians, tower climbers and laborers worked together to replace aging microwave and electronic newsgathering equipment with more than 100,000 pieces of new, high-performing equipment which is capable of operating more efficiently while using less spectrum.

All of this work was done for approximately 1,000 television broadcasters who provide the public with free over-the-air television programming in the U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. territories and possessions. There was no disruption of broadcasting service during any part of the five year project.

The completion of the BAS spectrum transition project drew praise from the nation's broadcasting industry.

"The National Association of Broadcasters congratulates Sprint on completing the herculean task of transitioning the broadcast auxiliary services to a new, more efficient spectrum plan in the 2 GHz frequency band," said Gordon H. Smith, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and former U.S. Senator from Oregon. "During this process, NAB's members worked closely with Sprint's network of engineers, technicians and other skilled personnel. We applaud the successful result that we all achieved, despite the highly complex, comprehensive nature of the BAS transition. "

"The state-of-the-art, electronic newsgathering equipment that was deployed for the BAS transition is enabling broadcasters to provide the American public with the valuable live news, information and public service programming that they have come to expect from our nation's free, local, over-the-air television stations," Smith said.

David Donovan, president of the Association for Maximum Service Television, Inc., (MSTV) called the project, "a textbook example of cross-industry cooperation."

"These BAS systems are critical in serving local communities. Because each system is unique, relocating them required a tremendous amount of engineering," Donovan said. "We want to congratulate the broadcast-engineering community, especially those who served as MSTV-sponsored market captains, for their tireless efforts. We also want to thank our partner, Sprint, for its tremendous work in making this project a success. Together, we have upgraded newsgathering capabilities of local stations and, at the same time, provided additional spectrum for mobile satellite and wireless broadband services."

"The Society of Broadcast Engineers' national network of volunteer frequency coordinators, with unique and valuable BAS information, was a key factor in Sprint's facilitation of an effective transition to a new, efficient digital platform for stations to provide vital news and information to the public," said Vinny Lopez, national president of the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE). "The Society's partnership with Sprint in this effort is a great example of how all broadcast engineers serve and support our industry and make technology work for business, government and broadcasting."

Sprint notified the Federal Communications Commission of the BAS project's completion in a regulatory filing on July 15 when it completed the Anchorage, Alaska designated market area. Anchorage was the last of 213 markets to be transitioned. Sprint began the BAS spectrum transition project following the 2004 FCC decision to implement a plan to resolve ongoing interference between public safety and commercial operations in the 800 MHz band. Sprint's financial and spectrum contributions to the FCC's 800 MHz Reconfiguration Plan included retuning BAS incumbents to a new, more efficient band plan, thus clearing the 1990-1995 MHz spectrum block for Sprint and the 1995 -2025 MHz block for mobile satellite and future broadband services.