DTV Transition Call Center Would be Ready by Feb. 17, says NCTA

NCTA president says plan in place for 7,000 operators to help with switch
Publish date:

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association says a $20 million effort to provide a national, coordinated DTV transition call center would be ready by Feb. 17 if the DTV transition date is not moved.

That came in a letter to Barack Obama's transition team from NCTA President Kyle McSlarrow.

The transition team met with industry and government stakeholders in Washington last month to get a status report on the transition, and concluded more needed to be done to make sure viewers predicted millions of calls about the transition could be answered in a timely fashion.

According to McSlarrow, the transition team asked the cable industry to spearhead the effort, though conceding it was a broadcaster transition.

McSlarrow says, in concert with broadcasters and the satellite industry, there is a plan to use up to 7,000 operators--actual human beings--for a period of several weeks before and after the Feb. 17 date, with cable putting up most of the out-of-pocket cost, he says, for hiring and training English and Spanish-speaking agents (he said they are looking into how to accommodate other languages), contracting with third parties, buying trunk line capacity and other expenses.

In a letter to the transition team last week, McSlarrow said he had expressed concern that if the date were to move, he would need to know ASAP. But in Friday's letter, McSlarrow said that enough flexibility as been "engineered" into the system so that it can adjust to a new date.

At the moment, that date is June 12, according to bills drafted in both the House and Senate in concert with the transition team.