DTV Coalition Launches Net Initiative

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As the House and Senate Commerce Committees prepare to draft bills setting a hard date for the switch to digital TV and the return of analog spectrum, computer companies and others are ramping up their push for vacated analog spectrum.

The High Tech DTV Coalition has launched a new Web site ( to push for as early a date as possible and to encourage Web surfers to e-mail their legislators.

Web sites seeking armies of e-mailers to help lobby for various issues have become an essential currency in Washington these days. Arguably it is even more of a no-brainer for the coalition, which includes some of the top computer companies--Dell, Cisco and Microsoft among them.

Those companies are particularly interested in getting the DTV transition moving because they plan to develop products that will operate on what are now broadcast channels 52-69, the band of analog channels the government plans to reclaim and auction to new users after the switch.

The site argues that the sooner the spectrum is returned, the better for emergency communications and the rollout of Internet access services.

It includes contact info for legislators and the following sample letter:

Dear [recipient]:

I am writing to voice my support for legislation in Congress to bring the digital TV broadcasting transition to a speedy and successful conclusion. I believe that setting a clear and unequivocal date for completing the transition, on or before Jan. 1, 2009, will be a “win-win” solution for public safety first-responders, America’s economy and, most of all, for consumers.

Setting a firm date for the transition, as early as possible, will free up the radio spectrum needed by first-responders to upgrade their public safety communications systems, making all Americans more secure against terrorist threats and natural disasters.

In addition, it will allow Congress to free up public airwaves for beneficial and innovative wireless services, paving the way for advances in telemedicine, distance learning, social services and broadband Internet access. New wireless broadband services will provide competitive alternatives to the existing broadband offerings, particularly in rural and under-served areas of the country. The wireless digital revolution will allow entrepreneurs to extend America’s leadership in the global high-tech sector, accelerating the growth of high-paying jobs and drawing new investment in America’s economy. And of course, all these benefits come along with the benefits of digital television itself, with its clear picture and improved audio quality.

A firm “date certain” to conclude the DTV transition is absolutely vital to achieving these benefits. Public safety communicators and wireless service innovators need certainty in order to begin planning for system upgrades and new service rollouts. Without a clear end-date for the transition, entrepreneurs cannot formulate business plans and begin attracting the capital they need to roll out their innovative wireless technologies. Moreover, setting a specific date, all over the country, for the switch-over to digital over-the-air broadcasting will allow broadcasters and other stakeholders to prepare consumers and alert them to opportunities to improve their television service through new DTV sets and converter boxes. Public awareness campaigns and support programs can be designed with the easily understandable transition date as their centerpiece.

The DTV transition is here. It is happening. I urge you to support legislation to ensure that the transition happens in a clear, orderly way that ensures that consumers can rapidly enjoy the many benefits of the transition. Please support legislation this year setting an early, firm date to complete the DTV transition.