Well, it’s finally here folks… After a brief 4 month delay the switch to DTV is finally here. I got together with my friends at WBIR to talk about some things you’ll want to know going into the conversion which takes place tonight (video below), as well as to bid a fond farewell to analog. As Russell mentions in the spot, analog TV has brought us amazing images since the dawn of TV itself; everything from the lunar landing to the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. Television, with the help of analog signaling has truly changed the world. But, how did we get to this point and where are we going from here? Well, lets take a look.
As I have mentioned before, this whole thing started back in 2005 when the US Congress passed the “Deficit Reduction Act of 2005” which mandated the move from analog TV to digital by February 17, 2009. Along with this mandate came $1.5 billion (see the irony?) in funding to give to the American people to help them purchase converter boxes so they wouldn’t be left with “snow” after the great switch. The next great twist in the story comes with the election of President Obama. He and the current Congress decide that the people aren’t ready, and so push the deadline back to June 12, 2009. I’m pretty sure it’s going to happen this time. =)
So why make the change in the first place and how in the world could this possibly help reduce a deficit? Great question. The FCC’s knee jerk response to the first part of that question is that it provides a better viewing experience for everyone, and allows for more channels. You didn’t know they cared so much, did you? Keep reading and you get to the good part. They also mention that these freed up frequencies will be used for emergency responders like police, ambulance services, etc… AND some of it will be sold off to private companies. Ahhh… there we go. Turns out the FCC turned that $1.5 billion investment into $19.6 billion by selling off some of the analog channels… the largest purchasers being AT&T and Verizon Wireless. What are they going to do with it? Awesome question. Heard of 4G yet? Verizon plans to increase the speed and footprint of it’s network with part of the frequency block it purchased into what is now being called the “4G” network (due out 2010). There are also rumors of more “TV type services” being relayed to phones as well talk of public WiFi offerings from both companies. Faster phones, faster internet connections, and cool new stuff on our phones? I’m in. It’s looking like our dear old friend Mr. Analog (or at least the airspace he used to occupy) isn’t going that far after all.
Take a look at the spot and let me know what you think, oh, and don’t forget to rescan those channels!
– Dan Thompson