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FCC Chair Speaks Out Against DTV Transition Delay

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DTV transition unprecedented change in communications

by maokh    Jan 12, 2009, 7:17 PM

The DTV transition is completely unprecedented.

While new modes have been added since the original AM radio (FM, IBOC, DTV), and even new features (AM stereo, FM stereo, color television) ... there really hasn't been a case where a certain mode was rendered completely obsolete and unusable.

TV is quite ubiquitous, and its nowhere near what happened during the AMPS/TDMA sunsets. Even color TV was additive, so you can't really call that a transition.

While most of us savvy folks will visit on the web, call the 800 number advertised, or subscribe (continue to subscribe) to premium service television, there are many folks out there who are afraid of technology and can't even program their VCR clocks, let alone hook up a converter.

The poor and elderly have more fundamental problems such as obtaining transportation to go get it in the first place....too afraid to call the big scary federal number...hooking it up....or perhaps even paying the slight difference of about $20-$35 between the retail price and coupon price. These people, sadly, are the ones who rely the heaviest on free television service for entertainment (and more importantly) emergency services.

Does that sound absurd to you? I've seen it first hand many times.

The downright sad truth about DTV service is the reliability (or even viability) of the multipath vulnerable 8VSB modulation technique in distant areas. Got ghosts on your analog signal? Lots of snow? Forget about even getting a digital signal to begin with.

I know several folks who will be without even a snowy television picture when DTV kicks in, because the receiver cannot get enough signal to decode. The service area has visibility shrunk. There are streets about 15 miles from my location where the "cut off" is, even outdoor antennas. The analog signal works much further though. The only choice is to fork out outrageous amounts of money for service. I could afford it, but its not me im worried about.

My only hope is that perhaps propagation will be a lot better at the lower VHF frequencies after they move stuff around.

there is no right answer, and delaying the transition may or may not be the best option, but people are going to fall through the cracks with this.

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