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Chicago politics lands in DC

The DC Examiner reports that one of Barack Obama's telecom advisers, the vice president of Clearwire and an Obama donor, is advising him to delay the television broadcast change over from analog to digital. Why? Because it will benefit his company while hurting his competitors. Here's how:

After years of wrangling and negotiating, Congress and the FCC set February 17, 2009--between the Superbowl and the NCAA tournament--as the date for all TV broadcasting to switch to digital.

This will free up a huge swath of frequencies, which the FCC has auctioned off to other telecommunications firms. One buyer was Verizon, who will use this spectrum for its wireless broadband networks (again, providing Internet for Blackberries and similar devices).

Specifically, they will use this spectrum to launch their fourth-generation wireless broadband network (or "4G" as it's known, in contrast to the "3G" you hear about with today's iPhones and Blackberries). So, Verizon's 4G network awaits the transition to digital TV.

But Sprint and Clearwire, on spectrum they already own, have begun launching their 4G network. That means Sprint is ahead of the competition in wireless Internet. It also means Sprint and Clearwire stand to benefit from Obama's push to delay the transition to digital TV: The longer broadcasters use analog signals, the longer Verizon has to wait to get the spectrum it needs for its 4G network--which gives Sprint a longer honeymoon as the only network offering 4G speeds.

Well, shazzam! Obama has said that he wants to delay the switchover, and the Democrats dutifully proposed a bill that would delay the change to mid-June. Republicans, however, successfully defeated it. The bill will return, and once Obama is inaugurated, he will probably put the full court press to the deal to make sure his buddy's company gets the benefit.

Thanks to David Freddoso for reminding me of this story.


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Comments (8)

It is really sad that we ma... (Below threshold)

It is really sad that we may soon have a crook in the White House. I guess some things never change. All politicians seem to be crooks nowadays. Sad for our country.

Obama's not likely gonna ev... (Below threshold)

Obama's not likely gonna even get the chance.

The question is not IF there will be an interdiction of Obama's Presidency by the Supreme Court, the questions are WHEN and HOW that interdiction will transpire -- that is, if the USA is to continue as the Constitutional Republic that now exists.

Ted, you're outta yer frick... (Below threshold)

Ted, you're outta yer frickin' skull with delusions.

Such a corrupt and evil man... (Below threshold)

Such a corrupt and evil man. ww

That didn't take long.... (Below threshold)

That didn't take long.

Such a tremendous load of c... (Below threshold)

Such a tremendous load of corruption. Wake up America!

Hey it is not BIG OIL, Hali... (Below threshold)

Hey it is not BIG OIL, Haliburton or Wall Street.
So its ok?

Thanks for your ongoing cov... (Below threshold)
John Taylor:

Thanks for your ongoing coverage of this and other important tech issues pending before the FCC and the Congress. We want your readers to know the columns from Ars Technica and the Examiner which you link to mischaracterize Sprint Nextel's position on the transition to DTV as well as the timing of the Clearwire transaction.

Our company has not lobbied the FCC, the Congress, the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration or the Obama transition team on the date of the transition to DTV. Furthermore, Sprint has not employed Mr. Salemme in any capacity to work for our company on this issue. In addition, we did not participate in the 700 MHz auction.

Unfortunately, neither news outlet contacted Sprint Nextel for comment before publishing their articles linking the company with the DTV transition. Given the public's on-going interest and concern regarding the possible shift in the date for the DTV transition, we wanted to clarify that Sprint Nextel has had no role in this public policy discussion.

John Taylor / [email protected]
Public Affairs
Sprint Nextel Corp.






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