Feb. 17 was supposed to mark the official, nation-wide transition to digital television.
For months prior to this date, broadcasters had been spending enormous amounts of money educating their viewers about the switch while operating both an analog and digital signal.
However, the end to providing both analog and digital signals was delayed when the U.S. Senate on Feb. 26 voted to postpone the upcoming transition from analog to digital television broadcasting until June 12, according to Associated Press reports.
June 12 is here, and the transition is taking place.
My major problem is that some people still aren’t prepared, even though the National Telecommunications and Information Association offered coupons to offset the cost of the converter boxes needed to get the digital signal on non-digital television sets.
“Those most at risk of losing programming are seniors, non-English speakers, low-income viewers and rural residents,” The Washington Post reported.
I live in rural area, so I worry that people around me are going to go without television, which isn’t horrible except that during severe weather the TV is the quickest way to receive information about approaching storms.
Living in tornado alley means people around here need to have TV, and factor in the way people in general wait until the last minute to do things, and we have the recipe for disaster.
“NTIA officials said nearly 320,000 people had requested coupons (Thursday), the 10th-highest coupon request day since the start of the program in February 2008,” The Washington Post reported.
I think moving forward with technology is important for our country, but people shouldn’t be left behind.
Granted, The Associated Press has reported this process began in 1987, but a push to make it happen didn’t occur until much more recently.
There should have been a concentrated effort to express to rural residents and the elderly the importance of this. Mere TV commercials clearly weren’t enough, otherwise the transition wouldn’t have been delayed until now.
Again, dealing with these two types of people on a regular basis living in Kansas, I fear for their safety.
Luckily my grandmother in Canton, Kan., is on cable, so she’s taken care of. And my grandfather in Marion, Kan., has a converter box, so after I went and showed him how to rescan for channels this morning, he is ready to go as well.
I also took care of my parents today. I rescanned both of their televisions this morning before going to Marion.
So why is the transition taking place at all? Well, it seems wireless telephone companies want it.
“Cellular carriers Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. paid a combined $16 billion for spectrum to be vacated by TV broadcasters, but the delay has had little effect on them, since the wireless broadband equipment they plan to deploy is still in development. Verizon Wireless plans to turn it on next year,” the AP reported.
One company, Qualcomm Inc., wants to use the broadcast spectrum to offer broadcasts to cellular devices via a system called FLO TV.
“FLO TV, which broadcasts digital TV to specially equipped cell phones, spent $558 million one year ago for the rights to use UHF Channel 56 around the country. Qualcomm counted on being able to use that frequency right after Feb. 17, when U.S. full-power TV stations were originally slated to end their analog broadcasts
“The delay of the analog shutdown to Friday forced Qualcomm to postpone the launch of FLO TV service in new markets, costing the company tens of millions of dollars, (President of Qualcomm Inc.’s FLO TV service Bill) Stone said,” according to the AP report.
Long story short, it is all about progress, but I sincerely hope it actually results in moving our country forward.
Time will only tell how this is going to affect our nation, so until then, help those in need of assistance in getting their televisions to work with the new digital signals.
A person can only watch so much “snow”.