Intel Inside FCC’s DTV-Transition Plan


A business coalition that includes Intel Corp. is urging federal regulators to expedite the digital-television transition in order to give wireless-broadband companies access to valuable spectrum currently in the hands of local TV stations.

“The vacant spectrum can fulfill our country’s need for nationwide, interoperable frequencies for public-safety communications. Moreover, a significant amount of the cleared spectrum can be used to facilitate the deployment of advanced and innovative services,” the High Tech Broadband Coalition told the Federal Communications Commission in an Oct. 25 letter.

Wireless-broadband companies -- the handheld devices of which would surely run on Intel microchips -- want TV spectrum because those airwaves require less power to cover large areas and to easily penetrate walls and foliage.

The HTBC said the infrastructure costs to utilize TV spectrum would be 25% of the cost to build and operate broadband-wireless networks using less desirable portions of the airwaves.

“For these reasons, HTBC strongly encourages the [FCC] to establish a date certain for the DTV transition and thereby accelerate ubiquitous and affordable access to broadband services,” the HTBC added.

In addition to Intel, the HTBC includes the Business Software Alliance, the Semiconductor Industry Association and the National Association of Manufacturers.

The FCC plan would end the digital-TV transition Dec. 31, 2008. The HTBC favors an ever earlier deadline.

Broadcasters dislike the FCC plan, saying that it would widow millions of analog-TV sets not connected to cable and satellite.

They also complained that the FCC plan would likely result in cable companies taking digital signals and converting them to analog at the headend. Broadcasters said downconversion must occur in the home, if at all.

FCC sources have said that the digital-TV plan could come up for a vote at the agency’s December meeting.