It appears the long-encumbered 700 MHz will finally have a definitive date as to when it will be cleared so the U.S. government can grant the spectrum to public safety organizations and commercial wireless operators. The House-approved legislation sets February 17, 2009, as the hard deadline for ending U.S. analog broadcasts in the 700 MHz band. The legislation, inserted into a budget bill since Congress expects to make money from the auction of this band, is now awaiting a signature from President Bush. In 1997, Congress said that broadcasters in 2007 would have to return an extra 6 MHz of spectrum they were given to facilitate the DTV transition, but TV broadcasters could keep the spectrum if more than 15 percent of the homes in their viewing areas could not receive digital signals. The hard date now eliminates this caveat.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the value of the DTV spectrum at around $10 billion. Other estimates have reached as high as $30 billion because the 700 MHz band has excellent propagation characteristics that provide for better economies when it comes to constructing networks.The budget bill sets aside $1 billion to aid public safety interoperability and creates a fund to subsidize set-top converter boxes for people who receive TV signals over the air.
To read more about the DTV transition:
- take a look at this article from EE Times