Saturday, August 02, 2008
Order a Dish Network system from one of the country's largest dealers, DishPronto.
The government apparently has created new confusion about the coming transition from a mixture of analog and digital TV signals to all digital TV signals for over the air local TV transmission that's scheduled to occur less than two years from now. This confusion is the result of new rules governing how the special converter boxes that will allow analog only TV sets to continue to receive over the air TV programming after the transition.
For anyone not familiar with this issue, apparently somebody decided that all over the air TV transmissions had to eventually use the digital TV format instead of the old standby of the analog TV format that's been around ever since TV became widespread back in the middle of the twentieth century. There are a number of advantages and disadvantages associated with digital TV signals. The advantages of digital TV include the fact that it takes up less over the air bandwidth than analog TV. This is important because restricting over the air TV transmissions to digital TV signals will free up bandwidth for other uses including emergency services communications and municipal WiFi networks. Another advantage of digital TV is that it produces a much clearer picture than an analog TV signal can.
The disadvantages of digital TV include the fact that reception of a digital TV signal is an all or nothing affair. While an analog TV signal will gradually lose fidelity with distance, but still be viewable to varying degrees as the viewer gets farther away from the transmitter, a digital TV signal will produce a crystal clear picture and then just be reduced to noise by interference or unfavorable topography. Another disadvantage of digital TV- and the one that's really an issue with the mandatory transition to an all digital TV signal in 2009- is the fact that without a digital TV tuner, a TV cannot receive digital TV signals.
The fact that a TV cannot display digital TV signals without a digital tuner means that the millions of TV's that lack this essential component will become useless when the transition takes place. This is made worse by the fact that the transition is less than two years away and so far, only a small fraction of the effected population knows that it's going to happen.
There are two solutions to the dilemma though. One is to buy an entirely new TV set and the other is to get a special converter box that contains a digital tuner and can convert the digital signals into a signal that the analog TV can understand. These boxes are going to be subsidized by the federal government through coupons that should cover about two thirds of the cost of a converter box. The latest problem with this comes from the fact that the rules for who's eligible for digital TV converter boxes are confusing. Apparently every house hold is eligible for two coupons worth about forty dollars each until the first billion dollars of funding runs out. After that, more money can be allocated for coupons, but only households that can certify that they don't subscribe to cable or satellite TV will be eligible for those coupons. The fear is that this is taking an already confusing issue and just making it more complicated.