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25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
A series of posts describing how this all came about. (Click on picture above)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ua'u Brings DTV to Hawaii Early

In one of the many complications of the DTV transition, an endangered bird, the Ua'u or dark-rumped petrel, will bring DTV to Hawaii on January 15 - ahead of the other 49 states. FCC's www.dtv.gov website explains:

"(T)he broadcasters in Hawai'i requested to move the DTV transition date forward.

Currently, most analog broadcasts on Maui are transmitted from equipment located at the top of Haleakala. The Department of Defense and the University of Hawai'i had requested that broadcasters relocate their transmission equipment because of interference with astrological (sic) equipment also located on Haleakala. It had always been the broadcasters' plan to, upon the DTV transition date, broadcast only in digital at a new antenna farm lower down the mountain at Ulupalakua. Upon the switch, the equipment on Haleakala would be removed.

The Hawaiian petrel - a threatened bird species - nests upon Haleakala beginning in March. Broadcasters needed to make the change to digital early in order to take down existing mountaintop transmission equipment before the petrels arrive. It was decided that if Maui had to make the DTV transition early, it would make sense to have the entire state do the same to prevent possible confusion among consumers within the state."

(Of course, some of us may be wondering about the astrological equipment on Haleakala and why DoD and FCC are so interested in protecting it, perhaps it is part of the Area 51 coverup.) Fortunately, Multichannel News has a more lucid explanation than the above garble from the FCC's site,
Hawaii TV stations have found a new site on (Haleakala) for their digital towers. Meanwhile, the Department of Defense and the University of Hawaii -- which have their own facilities at the Haleakala summit -- are pressing the TV stations to take down the analog towers immediately after the transition.

But the stations can't do that in February after the national DTV transition because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has said doing so then could unsettle the dark-rumped petrel's nesting season, Rosenberg said.

"Some time in early February, they start nesting -- not in the towers but in the areas where the towers are located at the top of the mountain," Rosenberg said. "Fish and Wildlife has recommended -- and recommended is not strong enough a word -- that we need to deconstruct our present tower locations prior to February."

Rosenberg said that if the analog towers don't come down in January, the stations would have to wait a year to do so, and that would be untenable for the Pentagon and the University of Hawaii.

"We would be doing a disservice the Department of Defense and the University of Hawaii, who would like us out of there prior to that. They want to clean up the land," Rosenberg said.

Multichannel News also reports that as of October 9th the Hawaiian broadcasters hadn't bothered to discuss this issue with Time Warner Cable, the dominant CATV provider in the state. Kauai will switch at a later date since it is served by low power translators, not the Haleaka transmitters. FCC now has 5 employees detailed to Hawaii for the transition in addition to the 2 Enforcement Bureau staffers permanently stationed there. This density is equivalent to having 1600 FCC employees on the road across the country, a far greater number that are actually being deployed. FCC only has a little over 2000 employees in total. Finally AP reports,

As for the Hawaiian petrel, removal of the nearby transmission towers that sometimes interfere with their flight could help their populations grow, said Cathleen Bailey, a biologist at Haleakala National Park.

"It'll be much better for the birds," she said.

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