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Lump-Sum Decision Deadline Extended Two Weeks

Stations get a bit more time, but not as much as SBE had asked for

The Federal Communications Commission is giving U.S. broadcasters (and other earth station operators) a couple of extra weeks to figure out whether to take lump-sum payments for moving their satellite dishes.

Its Wireless Bureau on Thursday extended the deadline to Sept. 14, responding to a request from the Society of Broadcast Engineers.

SBE had asked for a one-month extension, citing the pandemic but more importantly the complexity of this decision for broadcasters. Earth station operators, it said, have to gather extensive information about their operations, perform “complex analyses,” and secure internal corporate approval.

[Related: “Lump Sum Decision Causes Engineers Headaches”]

But Donald Stockdale, chief of the Wireless Bureau, wrote in today’s order that Auction 107 is scheduled to begin Dec. 8; that’s the big auction that the commission will conduct to facilitate the rollout of 5G. He said applicants for 3.7 GHz licenses face an application deadline of their own in late September. Meanwhile satellite operators need to know which stations will select lump-sum payments as they prepare to transition their operations to 4.0-4.2 GHz.

He wrote that the extension to Sept. 14 “best balances” the needs of the various industries.

John Joslin of satellite services company Dawnco said this is good news.

“We can ramp up our efforts to tell many hundred more stations. The magazine articles will be given more time to reach people. Word of mouth will be given more time to reach people. Stations will actually be able to make an informed decision. This changes things a lot.”

U.S. stations have been asking questions of their attorneys and infrastructure providers about the about lump sum decision, trying to figure out the right choice for their individual situations. For receive-only earth stations with a single-feed antenna, the lump amount would be about $9,000, and with a multi-feed antenna it would be just under $17,000.