Digital TV Delay Could Affect Carriers Switch To 4G


Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) might just have to reconsider its aggressive plans for rolling out 4G. The carrier plans to unveil the high-speed network on spectrum it bought in a government auction last year. But now the problem could be that the spectrum is not cleared in time for it to roll out the service. The spectrum it plans to use is the same swath that broadcasters are supposed to vacate on Feb. 17, as part of the transition to digital TV. On Thursday, President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team asked Congress to consider delaying the long-standing deadline. The excuse is that there’s not enough coupons to go around for people who need a subsidy to pay for a converter box. Verizon Wireless might not be the only one that’s affected. AT&T may also be affected as well as Qualcomm (NSDQ: QCOM), which was also planning on using the spectrum to roll out its mobile TV to more than 100 markets this year.

Yesterday, the Open Mobile Video Coalition said during its interview that a delay probably would not affect the launch of mobile DTV services to phones and other consumer devices because most broadcasters have been prepared for this transition for some time. Carriers could also plow ahead with building out the infrastructure to be fully prepared when the transition happens (although in past experience, as with T-Mobile USA, we know that clearing spectrum can actually take a lot of time). A research report from investment bank Stifel Nicolaus Associates said a short delay — that doesn

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