Tower crews gearing up for blowout demand from incentive auction repacking

While the wireless industry gears up to bid on TV broadcasters' unwanted 600 MHz spectrum licenses in the FCC's scheduled incentive auction, tower-climbing companies are preparing for the work involved in repacking those broadcasters' remaining operations.

"We're in the famine period now, getting ready for the feast. So here we are: we're skinny as hell and the food is going to kill us," explained Thomas Silliman, president of Electronics Research, of the relative dearth of tower-climbing work today compared with the expected demand during the repacking process. "The problem is that we can only do so many [jobs] together in a given time period."

As wireless carriers like Verizon and AT&T wind down their macro LTE tower buildouts, TV broadcasters may soon begin hiring those tower-climbing crews to work on their station repacking -- work that in some cases can involve building a 20,000-pound antenna and then hoisting it up a 2,000-foot tower. Feature