Making a clearer switch with digital television

By Kirk Manion
February 5, 2009

Patrick McGowan

On-air broadcasting is making the switch to digital on June 12.

This change mainly affects those people who still use set-top or roof-top antennas. This new law means all people whose TVs are still receiving analog signals through the air must take steps to make their TVs broadcast in digital. Most people across the country have had digital TVs for a few years now. With the advent of Comcast Digital Cable, Direct TV and Verizon Fios, most homes have been made digital a few years ago.

In addition, if you have cable television or satellite television, this change will not affect you. You will still be able to keep using your old analog television.

But those with analog TVs that use rabbit-ears antennas must buy a converter box. Analog TV owners have 3 options to choose from before the June 12 deadline.

The first option for analog owners is to check to see if their TV was made after March 2007. If the TV was made after that date then no changes needed to made because TVs made after that point are built with a digital tuner. Those with analog TVs that were built without a digital tuner must choose between two routes.

The more expensive choice would be to go out and buy a new TV. All TVs now are digital if not HD quality. The cheapest choice would be to buy an external digital- to-analog converter box.

These boxes are essentially digital tuners with an analog output that lets older TVs receive digital transmissions after the switch.

One good side note is that the government is offering households two $40 vouchers to defray the cost of the designated devices, which run up to $70.

The digital switch is a sign of the times but also not the center of people’s attentions. Matt Gledhill, junior English major, said, “It was a matter of time, as society continues to advance, that this technology would take over. People know this and will adapt and won’t even be a big deal.”

The benefits of the conversion are that the bandwidth used by the old channels will now be freed up and actioned off the bidders to develop new services. In addition, stations broadcasting digitally will be able to multicast or send out multiple channels.

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Kirk Manion

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