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Auctioning of U.S. analog TV spectrum begins Thursday

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 23 Jan 2008 22:54 User comments (5)

Auctioning of U.S. analog TV spectrum begins Thursday Unlike the actual consumer side of the U.S. digital TV (DTV) transition, for which the FCC has taken a relatively hands-off approach, the auctioning off some of the radio frequencies being abandoned by analog TV transimissions, which officially begins on Thursday, has received a lot of personal attention from FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.
Martin's primary interest in the auction seems to be largely based on what he sees as an opportunity for one or more companies to build wireless data networks that could compete with incumbent cable and DSL broadband internet providers. "It's because of the unique characteristics of the spectrum, it's going to have the most significant impact on consumers we've seen in a while," Martin told the Associated Press.

The characteristics Martin is referring to are primarily related to the frequencies available. Although many wireless data networks have been built around higher transmission frequencies, those being auctioned off now, currently in use for UHF channels 52 through 69 are less prone to loss when encountering solid objects. In other words they're better at going through buildings and other obstacles without becoming too weak to be useful.

Ben Scott, policy director for public interest group Free Press isn't convinced that Martin's vision for the future of these frequencies will come to pass. "In my opinion, the 700 megahertz auction does not bring you a third-pipe competitor with DSL and cable," Scott said. "We've known that for a long time." He pointed out that you're unlikely to see a company like Verizon or AT&T show interest in such an expansion because it would compete with existing products in other divisions of each company.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the auction will raise anywhere from $10 billion to $15 billion. Some of that is already earmarked to help keep the Federal budget deficit down, while another portion will go toward funding the converter box voucher program intended to help millions of Americans who will still be watching analog TVs after the digital transition in a little over a year keep watching TV.

If you're a US resident and would like more information about the transition, or to apply for a voucher for an analog converter you can either visit the program's website or call 1-888-388-2009.

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5 user comments

124.1.2008 11:25

here comes the digital DRM lockouts America.

224.1.2008 11:29

heh, where ya been brain?

324.1.2008 13:49

I am interested to see who gets these spectrums and what they will be used for.

427.1.2008 13:15

I'm rooting for Google just to see what happens...

519.2.2008 0:22

I feel that they are overcomplicating somethig that is supposed to be simplyfied soo this makes it a smooth transistion for consumers.

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