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DTV winners and losers: It’s still anybody’s guess

After years of overheated rhetoric, the DTV transition is about to fade into history. For all the claims made by special interest groups along way, it may be many years before the ultimate winners and losers are actually known.

The fate and continued relevance of over-the-air digital broadcasting in a multichannel universe remains an open question and probably won’t be known for another decade. The same is true for the entrepreneurial companies lining up to purchase the analog spectrum being abandoned by television stations.

The High Tech DTV Coalition, a group of telecommunications, equipment and software companies with plans for the analog spectrum, are pleased by the DTV legislation. These companies, including AT&T, Dell, Cisco Systems, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, see the spectrum as a rich array of new wireless broadband services.

When government spectrum auctions begin in 2008 these companies are expected to offer billions of dollars for the airwaves.

Others see the DTV legislation as a bad deal for ordinary viewers, especially those with low incomes who will have to pay for new receivers if they want to watch over-the-air digital TV.

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