Did you know that the death of analog TV is only 413 days away?

Here’s the scoop, straight from the US Government:

What is the digital television transition?

At midnight on February 17, 2009, all full-power television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting in analog and switch to 100% digital broadcasting. Digital broadcasting promises to provide a clearer picture and more programming options and will free up airwaves for use by emergency responders.

Sweet promises of a better digital tomorrow from our elected representatives.  I’m sure that’ll work out great.  But what if I haven’t purchased a digital set by then?

imageCongress created the TV Converter Box Coupon Program for households wishing to keep using their  analog TV sets after February 17, 2009. The Program allows U.S. households to obtain up to two coupons, each worth $40, that can be applied toward the cost of eligible converter boxes.

A TV connected to cable, satellite or other pay TV service does not require a TV converter box from this program.

Consumers have a variety of options. Options to explore include:

  1. Keep your existing analog TV and purchase a TV converter box. A converter box plugs into your TV and will keep it working after Feb. 17, 2009, or
  2. Connect to cable, satellite or other pay service, or
  3. Purchase a television with a digital tuner.

How about this: Stop watching broadcast entirely and switch over entirely to the Internet for your media needs. 

Some people may just decide they don’t want to jump over the digital divide at all and just walk away from any kind of video.  Where will they go?  Find out in a future Parade section in your Sunday newspaper.

There’s already a confusing mish-mash of different television standards that comes with the jump to hi-def.  Forcing people to abandon a popular format is clearly a bad idea, but the bandwidth is being put up for auction this year by the FCC. It’s prime air, and its future usage is going to be interesting, to say the least.

It increases the total bandwidth available for wireless networks. The relatively low frequency—around 700 MHz—penetrates buildings well. That means it will work as an alternative to cable or DSL Internet service to homes as well as for mobile phones. Finally, the Federal Communications Commission will require the buyers of a large piece of the spectrum to give customers much greater freedom in their choice of devices than carriers have traditionally allowed.

The auction is shaping up as a battle between entrenched carriers AT&Tand Verizon Wireless, and a group of upstarts, most prominently Google. Many of the industry’s leading players—with the notable exception of AT&T, Apple, and Microsoft —have joined Google’s Open Handset Alliance, which is creating standardized handset software that can run any application users choose. Verizon, long the most locked down of U.S. carriers, promises to open its network in 2008 to any compatible phone running any compatible software. By the end of the year, a wave of openness may render the U.S. wireless business unrecognizable.

There’s something monumental coming; a huge change that starts with the death of traditional broadcast TV. I’m guessing most people don’t even know it’s happening.  Hey, whatever, here’s $40.

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