Verizon Wireless announced this morning that their President and CEO, Lowell McAdam, has sent a letter to lawmakers on Capitol Hill announcing that “Effective immediately for small wireless carriers…any new exclusivity arrangement we enter with handset makers will last no longer than six months - for all manufacturers and all devices.” At first glance, that’s kind of a big deal. After all, handset exclusivity is something that can be very financially beneficial to a carrier (see AT&T and iPhone as one such example.) So here’s the thing, when you re-read that statement, you discover that this exclusivity thing will still be in effect as it pertains to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. It’s only the small wireless carriers, those with 500,000 customers or less, that will be able to pick up handsets that are exclusive to Verizon Wireless after a six-month period. Still, it’s better than nothing, but the cast majority of non-Verizon Wireless mobile customers won’t benefit from this news.
In other words, this is a blatant attempt by Verizon Wireless to look like the nice guy while the FCC and congressional inquiries into exclusive handset deals proceed. This isn’t much progress at all. It’s just a political play that we can guarantee wouldn’t have happened if lawmakers weren’t taking a peek behind the curtain. What’s more, Verizon is hoping that other carriers will follow their lead with this move, specifically AT&T with the iPhone.
You can see the entire letter after the break.
Read More | Verizon Policy Blog
You know this is your final week before your TV turns into snow, right? If not, it is time to stop procrastinating with the excuse, “The dog ate my coupons.” DTV.gov says that about 42% of stations have already made the digital transition and that means that as of Friday, 58% of the channels you take for granted on your old analog set will cease to exist. Check out their site if you need physical or emotional support.
Read More | DTV.gov
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The FCC has announced that 158 more stations will switch from analog to digital before the June 12 deadline, with about a third of them being PBS affiliates. This leaves 927 stations, 51.6%, to make the change later. One of our local stations that made the early transition almost harasses you if you tune them in without a converter. Twenty four hours a day of telling us to get a box is not exactly friendly PR. You can check the list of those that are crossing over early on an FCC PDF.
Read More | Home Theater Mag
Now that the crossover to digital TV has been postponed, don’t think that you still have 4 months to buy a new TV or converter box. Some of the 1,796 full-power stations will still go with the option of dropping analog transmission this month. The FCC has asked those stations to notify them today and can prohibit the change if they feel that it is not in the public’s interest. So if you still aren’t ready and you live in an urban area, you might see that snow after all February 17.
Read More | ABC
The FCC has released a report that says that utilizing a new U.S. radio band for free wireless service will not overly interfere with cell phone use that has a nearby band. The agency is thinking of auctioning off frequencies in the AWS-3 (Advanced Wireless Services 3) band that is between 2155 and 2175 MHz if operators offer free service. The auction’s earliest date is set in June or July 2009 and once decided, the FCC would have to set rules for usage of the band.
Read More | PC World
The Federal regulatory powers that be have approved of creating an emergency alert system with texting delivered to cellies. There will be three types of messages. One is a national presidential alert in case of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. A second would be an “imminent threat, ” such as a tornado or university sniper, and the last would be used for Amber Alerts. Each would have an audio sound associated with it. The FCC free service will be voluntary and is expected to be up and running by 2010.
Read More | USA Today
There are now only 433 days to go until analog TV is no more. Eight retailers will begin to sell ATCS tuners to convert analog TVs to digital beginning in February. You can find them at Circuit City, Target, Sears, Kmart, RadioShack, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Sam’s Club. To facilitate that purchase, don’t forget to contact our helpful FCC who will be issuing two coupons worth $40.00 apiece. We suggest you not procrastinate, for although the program will dispense with over 33 million coupons, we suspect there are still at least that many analog TVs kicking around by 2009 that dont have satellite or cable.You can apply for your coupon after January 1 by contacting the FCC’s official site or calling 1-888-DTV-2009.
Read More | Post-Bulletin
We have more news on the death of analog TV in 2009. As we mentioned previously, cable companies will either have to convert their digital signal for analog receiving customers or provide them with a “down converter.” The FCC has approved rules to ensure that everyone is taken care of after the transition. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association say that they can have already pledged to do so voluntarily. Spokesperson Brian Dietz claims they will do this without charging extra or forcing subscribers to up to a pricier digital service. We would just as soon stay out of the fracas as long as we can still get our MTV.
Read More | Post-Bulletin
As part of the effort to have their merger approved by the FCC, former satellite radio rivals XM and Sirius introduced eight new pricing tiers they feel will be popular with current and new subscribers. Included is an “A la Carte” option that allows listeners to choose up to 50 channels from one service, for $6.99/month, almost half the current $12.99 fee. However, “premium” channels (assumed to be the sports, Oprah and Howard Stern channels) will not be included. Another “A la Carte” option allows listeners to choose up to 100 stations (including “premium”), from both services, for $14.99. The catch? Pre-merger subscribers who choose either option will have to buy a new receiver. There are 6 other options, including one geared toward families and one for sports fans—that don’t require buying a new receiver. The two companies hope the FCC will approve their merger by the end of the year. As a subscriber to XM Radio for nearly 2 years, this writer is very enthusiastic about the proposed pricing, even if it means purchasing a new radio.
Read More | New York Daily News
Fabrice Gonet, Jorg Hysek, and Valerie Ursenbacher decided to team up to form the HD3 Complication, designing watches based on their imaginations. Now one of these has come to fruition, although only 11 of them will be created. The Vulcania, named after Captain Nemo’s home port and devised by Gonet, has a deep-set 3-dimensional display on an etched map back plate. Hours are counted from rotating cylinders on the left, while minutes are determined on a Chadburn Telegraph-like wheel. The watch also features a sextant power reserve indicator and porthole loop date window. In a case of titanium and platinum, the functions can be viewed underneath sapphire glass panels. It is too bad that Jules Verne couldn’t live to see his tale inspiring more than just “Under the Sea” readers.
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