We’re now three days into the preliminary DTV transition (i.e., the "mini" transition that went forward on the originally-scheduled date, notwithstanding the last-minute Congressional extension of that date) and it does not appear that the world as we know it has yet come to an end. The sun continues to rise in the east, dogs and cats continue to live apart, and i continues to come before e except after c. The Washington, D.C. subway system did report three separate derailments on February 19, but there is no indication yet that those were directly related to the DTV transition.

Warning: Don’t drink and try to watch DTV

Before we get all optimistic, though, a cautionary note in these transitionary times. According to the website of Station KARE(TV), Minneapolis,on February 18 (DTV Transition Day One),

Police responded to a home in Joplin Wednesday after reports of shots being fired inside.

The 70 year old homeowner was angry that he had lost his cable, and was unable to get his new DTV converter to work properly.

After a brief standoff, the man was taken into custody. His wife told officers the suspect had been drinking.

There’s a lesson to be learned here: Friends don’t let friends try to watch DTV drunk.

Nevertheless, FCC “encourage[d]” by initial public reaction

For its part, the Commission has continued in Hyper-Self-Congratulatory mode by issuing a public notice characterizing the initial phase of the transition as “encouraging”. That was based on a report from the FCC’s DTV Call Center indicating that fewer than 26,000 DTV-related calls were received on Wednesday, February 18 – the first day of the transition. While the FCC’s statistical “overview”  of the various calls was not a model of usefulness, it at least reflected relatively low overall percentages of viewers having actual reception DTV problems – fewer than 33% of the callers (fewer than 9,000 callers in all) complained of such problems.

Since more than a third of the nation’s full power TV stations have now terminated their analog service, a nationwide total of 9,000 callers seems relatively small, particularly in view of the doom and gloom predictions which led up to the transition. (Of course, more calls presumably were made to various local call-in centers established by local television licensees, but given the extensive publicity accorded to the FCC’s call center, the 9,000 caller figure to that center seems quite low, all things considered.)

FCC staff apparently sees no problem with pre-Transition non-broadcast 700 MHz licensing

As we all know, the final DTV transition date has been put off until June 12, 2009. But on February 20, 2009, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau granted a number of 700 MHz band licenses, with the licenses effective on – you guessed it – February 20, 2009. Since the 700 MHz band is currently occupied by a number of broadcast television licensees who are not obligated to abandon the band for another 120 days or so, it appears that, at least for that limited period of time, the potential for conflicting uses of the spectrum exists. Of course, the new 700 MHz users may not – and probably won’t – be in a practical position to use the spectrum before June 12, so this will probably not be a real problem. Still, it seems odd that the Commission would hand the keys to the spectrum over to the new tenant before the old tenant has vacated the premises.