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High-tech executives lobby for near-term DTV deadline

A who’s who of American high-tech leaders want Congress to approve legislation that sets a date certain for the turn-off of analog television and switch to DTV.

The list includes executives from some of the nation’s top technology companies, including IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, Alcatel, Aloha Partners, AT&T, Dell, Cisco Systems, Qualcomm, T-Mobile, Information Technology Industry Council, National Association of Manufacturers, Business Software Alliance, the Semiconductor Industry Association, the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association and the Rural Telecommunications Group.

Calling themselves the High Tech DTV Coalition, the group pledged to work with Congress to create an early date certain for the long-awaited U.S. transition to digital television. The newly formed coalition stressed the benefits to first responders, wireless broadband users, rural consumers and the U.S. economy that will be achieved with the rapid completion of the DTV transition.

Near-term certainty about when the DTV transition will be complete is critical to unleashing the potential of this valuable spectrum at 700MHz for advanced wireless and public safety applications, according to Janice Obuchowski, the coalition’s executive director.

The group sent letters last week to leaders of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation pushing for a near term hard date for ending the transition. The group said it supports the concept of a program to support availability of converter boxes for households dependent on analog equipment to receive over-the-air television signals.

Intel CEO Craig R. Barrett called the spectrum “beach-front property” in terms of its potential for broadband wireless services. Not only will it lead to viable third-wire competitors to existing broadband providers, he said, but it will also reach far into rural areas, at relatively low cost, giving consumers in under-served areas broadband options they have never had before.

Robert Dotson, president and CEO of T-Mobile USA, said a clear and certain transition date is necessary. He said everyone needs certainty — the public safety responders, wireless carriers, broadband equipment manufacturers, and broadcasters and most importantly, the consumers.

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