In a landmark move the Senate committee designated to oversea the airwaves has decided to ratify a bill being sent to the floor later this month that would end analog broadcast signals.
New York Times: A Senate panel approved legislation on Thursday to complete the slow transition from analog to digital television by 2009, a change of enormous importance to the television, cable and wireless telephone industries.
The legislation, cleared by the Senate Commerce Committee by a vote of 19 to 3, has gained considerable momentum because it could raise billions of dollars for a depleted federal treasury from auctions for the spectrum licenses that would be surrendered by broadcasters.
Emergency workers have been heavily lobbying for the legislation so they can have better communication systems during disasters like Hurricane Katrina. And the lawmakers are being pressed by industry groups, most notably the wireless phone companies, to accelerate the transition to auction the spectrum licenses so that the carriers can expand and improve their phone and wireless Internet services.