Are We Ready? The Switch to Digital Television

U.S. technology infrastructure will take a giant leap forward this February when the congressionally mandated conversion to all-digital television broadcasting takes effect. But there is disagreement over consumer and industry preparedness for the upcoming deadline. How many will be left with a blank TV screen come February? There are many key players investing time and money into this project, including local, state and federal government, consumers and the telecommunications industry. Congress, the FCC, and the Department of Commerce are spearheading the bulk of the financial costs and organizing industry stakeholders. In 1996, Congress offered televisions stations additional channels to begin digital broadcasting. Shortly thereafter, Congress mandated that all full-power televisions stations would be required to end broadcasting in analog and switch to digital by February 17, 2009. The FCC has already auctioned a portion of analog spectrum to companies interested providing advanced wireless services and is working to auction additional spectrum to a company interested in managing a public safety communications network. Efforts are bring made to help make the transition easier. Consumers without cable television or televisions equipped with digital tuners will be required to purchase a digital-to-analog converter box. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a branch of the Department of Commerce, is administering a Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program, allowing each U.S. household to receive two converter box coupons worth $40 each. Consumers can request...

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