American Broadcasting Goes Digital Today
Today marks an historic day in the history of American television that has been years in the making. Television stations across the nation will switch to digital broadcasting at noon. For over-the-air television viewers, (those who watch television with an antenna connected to their TV set) this transition has required them to purchase an analog-to-digital converter box for their televisions or purchase a television with a built-in digital tuner. Viewers with all their televisions connected to cable will watch the digital transition pass without having to make any changes.
The newly freed spectrum is going to be put to good use. Various companies who paid billions to license some of the bandwidth for wireless applications will begin their new businesses next week while public safety organizations will be able to begin using other parts of the spectrum for advanced communications services that proved sorely lacking on 9-11.
While the digital transition was debated for nearly decade by Washington policy makers, originally planned for 2006, postponed to February 17, 2009, and finally delayed until today. Earlier this year, many television stations in smaller markets switched to digital broadcasts. Today will mark the transition of the remaining stations affecting the vast majority of television viewers in larger markets.
And while millions have been spent by cable companies, broadcasters and the federal government to inform Americans that watch over-the-air broadcasts about the preparations needed to make the transition successfully, around 2.5 percent of households still aren't prepared. While that number has been cut in half since the previous February deadline, many American television viewers still will need additional assistance in the coming days after regular programming ceases on analog. Our call centers are prepared for a rush of calls to help those in our service areas, especially our existing customers who forgot about that TV downstairs in the rec room that was not hooked up to cable.
Today may have been a long time in coming, but the bright future that digital broadcasts will bring to television is finally here.