Digital Television Transition FAQs

Why The Conversion? We are here today to give you all some answers about the digital broadcasting transition and explain the reasons and benefits of the digital transition. Hopefully these answers will help you all to see why the digital TV broadcasting transition is a good thing for all of us and not just another way for big corporations to make more money.

As we have said before, on February 17th, 2009 at midnight all full-power television stations will switch to a 100% digital broadcasting signal and will no longer provide any analog TV signals. The reasons for this broadcasting transition are listed below.

Better Picture Quality and Sound Quality?
After the transition most viewers should see improved clarity and color. This is indeed true for anyone that has a digital Television but this could be untrue for anyone that is using a converter box. For those using an box the results have been mixed. Some have found that they get a better picture while other have found that they no longer get some channels. Still again, others have found that they get more channels.

More Programming Options?
Comcast has said that digital broadcasting will open up the opportunity for additional channels and multi casting. This means that channels will be able to provide sub channels at no extra costs to the consumer. For example, channel 4.0 might be able to also provide channel 4.1 that airs its most popular shows at different times of the day. Then it could also provide channel 4.2 for the airing of local weather forecasts all day.

Digital television broadcasting will also allow for significantly better closed-captioning options that are not available currently.

Improved Emergency Services Communications?
After the transition some of the analog airwaves, known as the spectrum, will be opened up to emergency services such as police and firefighters. The plan here is to use these airwaves to help emergency services provide citizens with better communications.

Those are the three main benefits of digital broadcasting. The most obvious benefits include a better picture and more programming options.

If you have an old analog television and want to see the full benefits of the digital broadcasting you will need to purchase a new television. You can also get a converter box or subscribe to a paid service like cable or satellite but it will have to be the more expensive digital services since there is no digital cable converter boxes at this time.

What is the digital transition and when will it occur?
The digital television transition will officially occur on February 17th, 2009 at 12:00 a.m. midnight. At this time all full-power television stations with discontinue their television broadcasts in analog tv and will switch over to 100% digital broadcasting. Once the transition has been made it should provide consumers with better picture quality, better sound, more programming options, and it will also open up airwaves for emergency services.

How will the transition (DTV) affect me?

If you currently watch television on any analog TV that is not connected to satellite or cable then you will need to do something about it before February 17th, 2009 or it will affect you. If you do not act on February 17th, 2009 you will no longer be able to watch television stations. You will however still be able to use your TV for the viewing of DVDs, VHS, and the playing of video games.

Why is the transition taking place?

The digital transition is taking place for a couple of reasons. The first reason being that it will provide a few benefits to consumers. It will allow consumers to get better picture quality and also will provide them with more programming options. The transition will also allow analog airwaves to be opened up to the police and fire department. The remaining airwaves will then be auctioned off to provide new wireless services.

Will the transition affect me if I have cable or satellite?

No, if you have cable or satellite services you will still be able to use your analog television. Paid services will not be affect, it's only free over-the-air TV that is changing.

How do I know if I have an analog television?

If your television does not have a digital tuner in it then you will need to do something before February 17th, 2009. In order to find out if your TV has a digital tuner I would suggest consulting your owner's manual. If you do not have this anymore you can check on the internet for information about your specific model. If none of these options work then try taking a look at your television and see if it has an input connection for a "digital input" or "ATSC" (Advanced Television Systems Committee).

Are there any guidelines to follow to quickly figure out whether my television is analog or digital?

All TV sets that were made before 1998 are analog. Any big screen televisions made between 1998 and 2004 could possibly have a digital tuner built into them. Usually though this is only the case with TVs of 42 inches or larger. If it was made after 2004 there is a significantly better chance that it has a digital tuner built in. If it is one of the older sets that does not have a build in digital tuner you will of course need a converter box to continue using your television.

What can I do to continue watching shows on my analog TV after February 17th, 2009?

You can either keep your television and get an digital converter box, subscribe to cable or satellite services, or purchase a new television that has a digital tuner.

What is a digital TV converter box?

Digital TV converter boxes are brand new products that just came on the market in early 2008. They are made to hook into your TV and convert digital signals so that they will be displayed on your analog television. Without one your TV will no longer work after the switch.

Who is sponsoring the coupon program?

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) was appointed by Congress to handle the DTV converter box coupon program.

How do you install a converter box?

They are installed by simply hooking them into a hookup spot on either the front or back of your television. TV converter box installation should be very easy and should only take a few minutes. Don't throw your antenna away either because you will need to use it in conjunction with your converter box. Sometimes however it does work better to get a specific antenna.

How much does a converter box cost?
The price for most boxes ranges from $50 to about $70.

Where can I purchase a digital converter box?
Converter boxes can be purchased from most electronics stores like Best Buy. They can also be purchased at Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target. There have been a lot of complaints and problems with the initial models so I would suggest searching reviews to make sure you get one that will work well.

Are there any coupons available that can help reduce the cost?
Yes there are coupons available to reduce the cost. As I said before the cost to purchase most converter boxes is $50-$70 but you can actually get a one for about $10-$20. This is because the government has set aside roughly $1.4 billion to help Americans pay for them. If you go to the government transition website you can apply for a coupon for $40 off your purchase. The only catch is these coupons expire after 60 days and there are a limited number of them. If you are interested in getting a coupon and savings $40 on your purchase I would suggest going to the website today to request a coupon card.

How many coupons can I get?
The government has set a limit of 2 coupons per household. If you want or need more coupons you will have to use an alternate address or purchase one on eBay.

Is there anything else I can do besides purchase a converter box so that my television will continue working?
No, there is nothing else you can do to allow your current analog TV to continue working. The only other option is to by a new television that is made to pick up digital signals. The converter essentially converts older televisions so they operate off digital signals like all new TVs.

Is there anything else I need to know about the dtv transition?
You should look at reviews to see how different converters are working. As I said before, I have read about there being many glitches and problems with many of the initial models.