Chicago (IL) – The transition to digital television (DTV) has taken long enough in the opinions of many, and if the deadline is pushed back any further it will mean that faster wireless broadband will also be delayed. But why?
On February 17th, 2009, analog broadcast television stations will be forced to transfer all of their programming to digital channels as part of a process which reclaims the valuable frequencies in the 700MHz band for subsequent delivery to mobile broadband providers.
The Federal government has made many attempts to prepare consumers for the switch, and currently the Obama administration is recommending yet another extension.
The transition began on Thursday as Hawaiian television stations were set to go all digital on an early deadline. Hawaii was responsible for making the change early to make a smooth transition from one antenna site to another on the Big Island. The television stations are relocating their towers away from the slopes of the Halekala volcano prior to the nesting season of an endangered bird – the dark-rumped petrel.
The transition in Hawaii has gone well thus far, though the reactions of consumers have yet to be made public.
Verizon Wireless and AT&T both have plans to utilize the new 700MHz spectrum for the next best thing in mobile broadband – which is based on Long Term Evolution technology. Verizon is nervous that a delay in the switch to digital television could mean a delay in the release of the Verizon Wireless LTE network which should rollout this year.
AT&T and Verizon have both voiced their concerns about the delay to lawmakers pointing out that both companies paid billions of dollars in an auction for the 700MHz spectrum license.
Verizon desperately wants to roll out the LTE network because they can’t really do much more with their current 3G network, which is based on EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) technology, and it just isn’t fast enough to meet consumer’s demand.
With their goal being better business, Verizon has every reason to oppose an extension in the deadline for the digital switch as a delay could hold back testing and deployment of new income streams for the company.
Deploying a new technology is challenging enough without having further delays.