Thursday, February 14, 2008

Conversion to Digital TV

I wanted to touch on the digital TV conversion topic that we discussed in class today. While the energy consumption of HDTV's is undeniably higher than analog sets, the conversion to digital from analog is not simply for better reception quality, although it is an undeniable benefit. Rather the upgrade from analog to digital is a long overdue process that will open countless avenues of economic, educational and technological innovations.  

The '700 megahertz' auction, estimated to bring between $10-30 billion (not the $10B reported in class), has the possibility of creating a new broadband wireless service that would be able to penetrate walls and buildings as well as blanket the entire country.  As the country and the economy moves towards a wireless network, this bandwidth affords us the opportunity to reach the 'last mile' in ways unimaginable only a few years ago.  Furthermore, the unused analog channels will also be used to put the police, firefighters and other first responders on one dedicated channel.  My understanding, is that this is in response to one of the problem the police and firefighters had on 9-11, which was their inability to communicate with one another.

To clarify even further, it is not necessary for consumers to buy HDTV's in order to continue watching TV after the conversion.  They can continue to buy and use analog sets provided they have a analog-to-digital converter available at a discounted rate courtesy of Uncle Sam or through the cable company when you purchase more than just basic cable.  Also, all televisions sold in the US (aside from analog sets currently in inventory) since 3/1/07 have been digital ready, regardless if they are HD or not.

For another perspective check out this Op-Ed from Professor Gary Chapman from the LBJ School.  And here is the informational Website the government has set up (warning, it is poorly organized).

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