updated 05:55 pm EST, Wed February 4, 2009
Digital TV delayed
Congress has approved legislation that will delay the digital TV transition until June 12, providing more time to prepare older devices for the change, according to Reuters. The switch deadline had initially been scheduled for February 17th, although an estimated 20 million individuals would not be ready in the next few weeks. Obama backed the latest change, recognizing concerns that the unprepared group contained mostly low-income, elderly and rural households.
"We believe it is irresponsible to ask mostly rural, or elderly consumers to reach into their own pockets to deal with this transition when many folks, including the federal government, are making a profit," said Joel Kelsey of the Consumers Union.
The members of Congress quickly reversed a previous attempt last week that was rejected by a vote of 258 to 168. The opponents argued that the delay would cause problems for the 4G Internet access that would utilize the vacated 700MHz band, without necessarily providing a remedy for coverage issues.
Despite the government distribution of $40 vouchers to assist with purchasing converter boxes, roughly 13 million people possess expired coupons. The voucher supply dried up last month, leaving millions of requests unfulfilled.
AT&T and Verizon, the companies that purchased the empty spectrum, had initially opposed the delay. Both companies eventually conceded to the change, however, and will receive licenses that are extended by the same length of time. Qualcomm held a stance against the delay, having paid $550 million to use part of the band to launch a video service.