DTV Delay Could Keep Prince George's Co. In Stone Age

Weird tree problems could postpone transition to modernity another year

The opening match in Wednesday's action-packed House of Representatives session was, much like the prime-time stimulus package bout, decided almost entirely along party lines. Welcome to the New America!

The House voted 258 (Democrats, mostly) to 168 in favor of a bill that would delay the national switch to digital television from Feb. 17 to June 12. But since the bill was voted on under suspension of the rules -- a means of fast-tracking legislation generally considered noncontroversial -- it required a two-thirds vote to pass, meaning it fell 12 short.

For now, the Feb. 17 date stands. It is likely to be re-introduced in the chamber next week, however, under regular rules, which require a simple majority. It will probably pass. And somehow, this will destroy Prince George's County, Md., for yet another year.

The county is finishing a massive upgrade of its 40-year-old public safety radio system that would, among other things, finally introduce "interoperability," which is "the ability of first responders to communicate across jurisdictional lines."

But since the new system shares some of the radio spectrum used to transmit analog signals, it cannot be turned on until the switch to digital. Every other county in the metro region already has this thing, somehow. Who knows.

And in case this TV conversion timing wasn't annoying enough for county officials, a delay from February to June would mean they'd have to delay the new radio system launch until spring 2010, for a comical reason that makes a mockery of our society's make-believe technological advancements: "That's because fine tuning and testing of the radios has to be done when leaves are on the trees. The leaves actually can reduce how far the radio waves travel."

Nobody ever said that being in charge of Prince George's County was fun!

Jim Newell's interoperability works just fine, allowing him to write for Wonkette and IvyGate as well.

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