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700MHz Spectrum and The Digital Transition

I’ve written a few posts about the conversion to digital television in 2009. Analog will shut off and digital broadcasting will inherit the Earth…well America at least with other countries soon following. So what is going to happen to the space analog TV occupies now and…wait, why is this happening again?

As we might recall, Bill Clinton proposed a balanced budget during his administration. The deficit was wiped out and life was to continue better than ever. This was more of a projected budget and a premature assumption at that. This was the big kicker for the transition to digital broadcasting, although it has been delayed a handful of times. While it does offer better picture quality and more channels, it stands to make the government billions and BILLIONS of dollars…hundreds of billions even. Now we’re back in a deficit with the projected income already included.

The airwaves will be returned to the public, and by public I mean you buy stock in companies such as Google or Verizon who will then purchase a very tiny sliver of the spectrum for their own purposes or you can do it if you happen to have a few billion dollars floating around in your couch cushions: starting bid $4.6 billion.

There is no telling what will actually come out of the spectrum after it’s purchased by these companies but it would be ridiculous to expect anything in the first few years. Companies and people are going to research its uses, develop their own product and then offer you a new service or just horde it for themselves. Rumor has it wireless carriers will get first crack at it and then others after that. Some will remain in the hands of the government for the public safety network. Expect to see an improved Amber Alert System.

The truth is, you as a consumer aren’t going to see much right away, and when you do see something, you probably won’t realize or even remember where it’s coming from. But the devices and products should be pretty amazing especially if people companies like Google have anything to say about it.

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