Responding to a letter from House Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA), acting NTIA Director Meredith Baker warned that, at the current pace of orders, demand for government-subsidized DTV converter box coupons would exceed the supply sometime next month. The $1.34 billion program provides each U.S. household with up to two $40 coupons that over-the-air analog TV viewers can redeem for set-top boxes needed to down-convert DTV signals to analog format after the February 17, 2009 DTV transition deadline. Noting that her agency can honor requests for a total of 51.5 million coupons, Baker told Markey that, if demand continues “at the current weekly rate of over 1.5 million . . . NTIA could exceed requests for 51.5 million coupons in late January.” If and when that ceiling is reached, Baker added that NTIA would “hold coupon requests until funds from unredeemed coupons become available,” which she acknowledged would “likely result in consumer confusion and dissatisfaction with the program.” Baker also predicted that, even if NTIA exhausts its supply of coupons, there could still be a shortfall of 2.5 million converter boxes on the retail end, assuming a projected redemption rate of 60%. Meanwhile, in reply to a separate inquiry from Markey, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said that, without the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and other private sector entities that have promised to help, the FCC would likely fall short in its efforts to respond to the flood of viewer calls expected in the days immediately following the DTV transition. Although the FCC plans to spend $10 million on 2,300 trained agents that would staff DTV call centers in February, Martin told Markey that the agency expects upwards of 350,000 calls per day—with as many as 125,000 calls per hour—that, in turn, would require at least 7,000 agents. However, with the assistance of broadcasters, cable companies, state agencies and other resources that Martin described as “critical,” Martin voiced confidence that the FCC would be able to handle the anticipated call volume without additional funding from Congress. While pledging careful review of Baker’s and Martin’s responses, Markey said: “it is becoming increasingly clear that, at a minimum, Congress may need to quickly pass additional funding for the converter box program in early January.”