The U.S. Senate this week approved a four-month delay in the official switchover from analog to digital TV broadcasting. The deadline for broadcasters to cease transmitting using the old technology has been extended to June 12, 2009.

Recent surveys revealed that better than 90 per cent of American TV viewers were ready for the switch but some still weren’t and, presumably, wouldn’t be in time for the original February deadline. Estimates of how many U.S. households still are not prepared for the switch to digital broadcasting range from 6.5 million to 20 million.

But agreement on the postponement is far from unanimous. At least one congressional representative, John Shimkus (Rep.) of Illinois, observed that, “No matter when you postpone it [to], there are still going to be people who are not ready.”

The postponement throws plans by broadcasters into a bit of a tizzy, requiring them to keep their old transmitters running four months longer than they had originally planned. Other wireless players are waiting to launch new services in the broadcast space being freed up by the silencing of analog TV signals.

The U.S. Government, too, is waiting to access a big chunk of the vacated broadcast spectrum for use by the military and other official services.

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