Speaking of RF and the TV bands conversion to digital (and the relevance
to WISPs is at the end of this post)...

I for some reason thought the transition to digital was far off.
Actually, I've learned most all metro areas now have full digital
broadcast availability. And like may, I mostly grew up in an era where
one simply had some pay TV service -- off air stuff was barely tolerable
quality and there were only three networks and maybe one local UHF
independent that looked like snow.

But when I moved up here to the greater San Fran area in early 2005 (I'm
actually in Mountain View 10 miles north of San Jose, 30 miles south of
San Francisco) I decided to look into alternatives to cable or satellite
for my TV content. I figured I am more into movies than all the stuff on
cable. I had also had DirecTV, paying extra for the little HD content
that was to be had. It turned out that DirecTV did not have all the
agreements in place so I could not get all network HD content, so
basically the HD availability on satellite was a sham deal and I was
paying a lot.

Anyway, I discovered the www.antennaweb.org Web site where you can plug
in your address and see exactly what HD channels will be available, what
antenna you'll need and the exact azimuth you need to orient the
antenna. I already had an HD tuner built in to my TV. One half a day and
a $39 dollar indoor antenna later I was watching about 30 free channels
and getting all the broadcast HD content. And that's with the tower just
over 30 miles away. I cancelled my pay-for-content service (saving about
$85 a month) and never looked back.

Today, I watch it on a Pioneer flat panel plasma and the clarity is
beyond incredible -- better than any of the HD I experienced via
satellite. Every sports game is now seen in blistering HD. Almost every
show after 8PM is in HD. All this I never got on satellite even though I
paid extra. From 30 miles away I get ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, WB, UPN, KRON
channels (local super station independent), two 24 hour weather
channels, 5 PBS channels (including PBS Kids for my girls), PAX, a
shopping channel (who cares, but I get it), several Spanish channels,
several Asian channels, and few more independents, all free. I don't
miss cable channels one bit.

Even if you are not in a major metro, hit the www.antennaweb.org site
and see what's available in your area. You might be surprised. And if
you do have it, I bet you'll cancel that expensive TV contract. 


This is all big news really, because if the story gets out, droves will
be cancelling their cable and satellite contracts. Cale ops should be
scared and satellite must be terrified. Content is the main reason to
have cable and the only reason to have satellite in the first place. And
if all cable has left to bundle that customers care about is Internet
and VoIP, then WISPs can be on a level field as cable, and definitely in
better position than satellite.

SO WISPs, spread the word locally. If the broadcast is available, drive
people to it -- maybe even offer free indoor HD antennas (these can be
had for $25) with your WISP Internet service. Present it along with
VoIP, hook up their local off-air HD when you roll the truck to install
the broadband service and you can market it like triple play.

The additional good news is that the old analog channels are clearing up
and will go UL before too long.

Patrick Leary
AVP WISP Markets
Alvarion, Inc.
o: 650.314.2628
c: 760.580.0080
Vonage: 650.641.1243

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