Please leave the DTV deadline at February 17, begs Qualcomm

Qualcomm may now be a key industry holdout against a proposal to extend the digital television switchover deadline from February 17, potentially to June 12.

While Verizon and AT&T have each indicated that they would not object to a proposed extension to June 12, Qualcomm reportedly wrote a letter to Congressional representatives asking them not to delay the switchover because of how it would affect the company's rollout plans.

AT&T, Qualcomm, and Verizon had all purchased the 700 MHz spectrum currently used by analog television to provide services. Qualcomm, in particular, is planning to roll out an expansion of its MediaFLO service, which provides digital television to cell phones. Ironically, Verizon Wireless' V Cast is the biggest MediaFLO-based service in the US now.

The Obama administration, in response to reports that the coupon program to help citizens get converter boxes for their existing analog televisions had run out of money, said it was considering extending the deadline, and bills are already underway in the Senate to modify the program.

However, between a big corporation and two million senior citizens, rural residents, and poor people who haven't yet converted to digital TV, it seems likely that the new Congress would be more likely to fall on the populist side, particularly when AT&T and Verizon are willing to go along with it.

"Does anyone care? TV on cellphones has been slow to take off in this country," said US News and World Report yesterday. "So it seems highly unlikely that Qualcomm has much leverage to stall this stall."

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