Bill Gates: I Want My DTV

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates joined fellow industry leaders Friday including Dell, Intel and Cisco in asking Congress to speed up the transition to digital television and open up the radio spectrum currently used by TV for wireless broadband services.

In a letter to United States lawmakers, the High Tech DTV Coalition said that freeing the spectrum would give more opportunity for technology companies to roll out services in rural and poor areas. Certain parts of the spectrum would be provided to first-responders, while the rest is auctioned off.

Congress previously established that television must go all-digital by the time 85 percent of consumers have the ability to receive the signals. However, such numbers are near impossible to quantify, leading to a push for a hard cut-off in either late 2008 or mid-2009.

"New and innovative technologies that will help meet the goal of universal, affordable broadband access are already being developed and readied for early deployment in this spectrum," the group said in its letter.

In a previous letter sent earlier this year, the coalition explained that, "Adding certainty to the transition process is the key to fulfilling the economic and public welfare benefits of the transition. Certainty will allow the U.S. high-tech industry to secure the investment and develop the business plans required to deploy wireless broadband services in the 700 MHz band."

The High Tech DTV Coalition is asking for the switch to take place no later than January 1, 2009.

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