After listening to endless debates and seeing transition dates continually pushed back over the past 10 years, the final push to a complete nationwide DTV transition takes place at midnight on June 12th. The U.S. government has spent upwards of 2 billion dollars attempting to educate the public and provide DTV converter coupons to households looking to continue using their analog televisions.
Due to the recent four month delay, the FCC has used this time to prepare the public for the transition with public service announcements and utilizing volunteers to supply homes with converter boxes. While this has cut the number of unprepared homes in half from the previous deadline, there are still 2.8 million households that will be staring at blank television sets tonight.
The FCC has targeted inner cities and rural areas as the most vulnerable areas for unprepared homes. They also expect to be flooded with calls regarding customers that have a converter box, but are installed improperly. Retailers are running DTV television marketing push in order to take advantage of the upcoming switch. They are also offering instruction on moving to the DTV platform as well.
All televisions shipped after March 1st 2007 already have a digital tuner built into the television. Television manufacturers were also supposed to tell consumers, at the time of purchase, if the television had a built in digital tuner as of late May 2007. Digital tuners didn't become predominantly included in televisions until 2004. Those with flat panel televisions, LCD or plasma, shouldn't assume that the television has a digital tuner either. Many early panels were simply built as monitors rather than a television with a built in digital tuner.
The shift to the digital broadcasting realm has opened up the wireless spectrum and the FCC is taking advantage. The 2 billion spent on DTV transition has been made back by nearly 10 fold. An auction of the spare spectrum has raised over 19 billion dollars. The FCC hasn't revealed the identities of the winners, but over 100 bidders won the 1090 licenses to broadcast up for auction. Bidders included a variety of wireless, internet and cable providers.
Approximately 100 stations will continue to broadcast a voluntary program via the analog signal post June 12th. This signal, reaching 70% of homes, will provide details about the DTV transition and stay on for a minimum of two weeks. Those unfamiliar with the availability of digital signals in your area can visit www.dtv.gov or call 1-888-225-5322 for more assistance.
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