Top 700 MHz auction winners support short DTV transition delay

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Democrat leaders in the Senate are working to push through a bill that would delay the digital TV transition until June 12 after President-elect Barack Obama asked Congress to push back the Feb. 17 DTV transition deadline. Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless, which originally opposed any delay of the transition, now supports a one-time delay until June 12.

Verizon Wireless had warned before that a delay would disrupt its plans to deploy LTE later this year in the 700 MHz band. "Because of these important developments, Verizon agrees that a one-time delay from Feb. 17 to June 12, as reflected in Senator Rockefeller's draft bill, is appropriate," stated Verizon Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg in a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Commerce Committees. "Any further delay would harm the nation's economy and broadband future, as I noted in my letter earlier this week."

AT&T Mobility, which has stated it's not in a hurry to roll out LTE, has said it supports a delay that doesn't last longer than three months. AT&T Mobility and Verizon were the two largest winners of the auction.

However, Qualcomm, which owns 700 MHz spectrum, has revealed in a filing with the FCC that it is ready to turn on its MediaFLO mobile broadcast TV service in 40 markets immediately following the Feb. 17 DTV transition deadline,

"Immediately upon the end of the DTV transition on February 17, 2009, Qualcomm will turn on transmitters to launch MediaFLO in many major markets around the country," Qualcomm vice president of government Dean Brenner wrote in the filing. "Within a few days of Feb. 17th, Qualcomm will have approximately 100 new transmitters on the air in Channel 55. These new transmitters will allow Qualcomm to launch MediaFLO in approximately 15 major markets across the country and to expand the existing MediaFLO coverage footprint in approximately 25 other markets. These new transmitters will enable Qualcomm to bring the MediaFLO service to over 40 million people who are not served today."

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Operators reveal 700 MHz plans: LTE the big winner