After months of delay, the transition to digital television (DTV) has arrived and those companies that purchased broadcasters' 700 MHz spectrum--namely AT&T and Verizon Wireless--are ready to begin work. The two carriers were the big bidders last year, spending a combined $15 billion to purchase spectrum surrendered by TV broadcasters, and both will use the airwaves to deploy LTE networks.
The original date for the transition was Feb. 17, but Congress scuppered that because of fears that not enough consumers were prepared for the switchover from analog to digital broadcasting. AT&T, and eventually Verizon, supported the delay, but both made it clear they did not want any further delay.
Once the switchover occurs, the spectrum the companies purchased will be freed up for their use. And it appears Verizon and Qualcomm will waste no time in taking advantage of it. Verizon spokesman Jeffrey Nelson told Dow Jones Newswires that the company will begin testing its LTE network Saturday, and Qualcomm's FLO chief Bill Stone said the company will soon begin rolling out mobile TV services in 39 new cities. AT&T is also ready for the transition. Wireless consumers "are going to have a lot more choice and a lot better choice" in the future, AT&T CTO John Donovan told USA Today.
Verizon has said it will commercially launch 20 to 30 LTE markets in the second half of 2010. AT&T will begin testing LTE in 2010 with deployment beginning in 2011.
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