FCC Chairman Kevin Martin (rightly) said that Obama's plan to delay the analogue shutdown would create "consumer confusion." But as Ars reports, when government, big corporations and tons of money are involved, it's never about consumers.
So here's what the Twister mat looks like, as astutely laid out by Ars' Julian Sanchez: Verizon has nearly $US10 billion tied up in the floaty airwaves that'll be abandoned when analogue broadcasts are turned off, on the promise they could rev up work on their superfast next-generation wireless network, LTE.
AT&T, however, joined the Consumers Union and some Congressman supporting the delay, that would, completely coincidentally, keep Verizon from speeding past them with their LTE deployment. You know, just like AT&T was concerned about the public when they asked the FCC to block the Clearwire WiMax merger over the summer. WiMax company Clearwire needs as much time as they can get to roll out their network and would also benefit from a delay—which is something of a conflict of interest, since a Clearwire exec has been a generous Obama supporter and met with Obama tech advisors.
But the delay might not happen: A proposal in the House would dump another $US650 million into the bankrupt converter box coupon program, which was the most substantial issue provoking the delay. The FCC also approved a "night light" measure that would broadcast a notice about the switch from Feb. 18 (the day of the shutoff) until March 19 and how to get a converter box. It won't be broadcast on all stations, but stations can opt in—though it's not cheap, with one station estimating running the broadcast will cost at least $US7000 for power alone.
A delay would totally cause consumer confusion. No matter when the transition happens, someone, somewhere, will see their TV go black and wonder why. The nightlight is solid compromise, and something that should've been in place before. Besides, when you try to delay the progress parade, it doesn't really slow it down, it just makes the route more screwed up. [Ars, PC Mag]