Print 64 comment(s) - last by quiksilvr.. on Feb 12 at 2:02 PM

Other countries that have transitioned to digital broadcasts have done so over months using a zoned approach

The digital transition in America is by many accounts much more aggressive than what has been tried in any other country with a significant population. The reason for the U.S. wanting to vacate the currently used analog airwaves is to make way faster for new services like mobile broadband.

While many countries have gone digital or plan to, America's transition is called one of the boldest and riskiest because it is the only large country that has tried to make the transition overnight. The original deadline for the transition was set to be February 17, a bit more than a week from now.

The U.S. House and Senate finally approved a bill that will postpone the DTV transition until June 12, 2009 to give Americans four more months to prepare. America isn’t the only country looking to vacate the precious analog spectrum used by current TV broadcasts, but we are the only one to do it all at once.

MSNBC reports that some other countries, which are much smaller than America, have opted to go digital, and have used a zoned transition approach where areas are converted one by one. Austria for example turned off analog signals over seven months in 2007 until the country was all digital with its TV broadcasts. Austria is only the size of South Carolina. Germany by comparison took five years to make the full transition area by area.

The U.S. will do its transition in one day -- sort of. The newly approved bill to delay the transition is allowing broadcasters to stick to the February 17 date for transitioning to all digital broadcasts. However, the stations can choose to wait until the June 12 date. The confusion comes in that now American's may have both digital and analog stations operating in the same market. That could mean that while a local NBC affiliate is digital, FOX could still be analog.

The problem for viewers is that if they are using a converter, not all converters offer analog pass-through to handle stations still broadcasting on the older airwaves. The U.S. has done some field testing of what the switch might turn out like. A test run was conducted in September for Wilmington, North Carolina and there were reportedly many calls to help lines, but most of the calls were from people needing help tuning into a digital specific station, as their sets were not yet digital-ready.

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Total BS!
By theapparition on 2/10/2009 11:41:35 AM , Rating: 5
The US is not transitioning overnight. It's been in the works for 10 frickin' years. Most stations have been broadcasting for 3 years in digital. Most in this country have already converted to digital. It's only the over-inflated 6.5 million number that hasn't.

Just more propaganda to support the delay.

RE: Total BS!
By MrBlastman on 2/10/2009 11:43:08 AM , Rating: 5
Not to mention the number of people that are already using Cable or Satellite for their Television.

Complete propaganda.

RE: Total BS!
By threepac3 on 2/10/2009 2:12:05 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think the, "6.5 million", includes cable/satellite customers... I'm just saying.

RE: Total BS!
By tastyratz on 2/10/2009 11:51:19 AM , Rating: 5

Also, I would be curious to see census data on the countries compared in relation to tv's owned with digital capabilities.

America is VERY prepared for this, american's are just not very educated on the subject. The airwaves have been blasted with the date and whats happening - but I think consumer awareness of just what qualifies and what does not has not properly been broadcasted.

Most major broadcast stations have been dual broadcasting in both digital and analog for some time now. We are not replacing the whole system over night, just replacing some of the system and disabling all of the legacy equipment.

If anything having 2 dates will just make this messier and costlier by consumer confusion.

RE: Total BS!
By eilersr on 2/10/2009 11:52:44 AM , Rating: 3
Re-read the article, and even look at the linked article.

What's being debated is HOW they are pulling the plug.

The US has proposed pulling the switch on ALL analog broadcasts in the entire country in one day, whereas other countries have done a gradual roll-out, one region at a time.

Not a bad idea. Start on the Eastern seaboard, switch off analog, wait for things to settle for a few weeks/months, then switch off Central. Lather, rinse, repeat.

That being said, I'm opposed to any delay and tired of the whole fiasco. Just turn 'em off, I say. Those that don't get it will figure it out real quick...

RE: Total BS!
By Anonymous Freak on 2/10/2009 1:35:35 PM , Rating: 2
Not a bad idea. Start on the Eastern seaboard, switch off analog, wait for things to settle for a few weeks/months, then switch off Central. Lather, rinse, repeat.


The broadcasts are purely local in nature. No individual broadcast frequency covers more than a couple hundred miles from its source. There is no reason to do it in stages. Either there are problems everywhere, or nowhere. No reason to make one area suffer under problems while the others get to take advantage of their learning curve.

RE: Total BS!
By Oregonian2 on 2/10/2009 11:09:51 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly! I'm in Oregon. What does it matter to me if a station in Florida shut down it's Analog broadcast on the same day they do here or if they did it a year or month or an hour earlier?

Only thing I could think of is that if they did it regionally and someone REALLY wanted to save their analog TV and not put a digital adapter on it, they could move their residence to a place that won't convert until a later date.

RE: Total BS!
By theapparition on 2/10/2009 2:07:21 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for your concern but not necessary. I read the article fully and understand the concept. It's still unnecessary since the US handled this transition vastly different from those other countries. They didn't simultaneously broadcast in both formats FOR OVER 3 YEARS!!!!!!!

The phased roll outs did nothing but add confusion, especially in overlapping regions. This is not something the US should have done. It was greatly discussed by the FCC many moons ago and dismissed.

RE: Total BS!
By theapparition on 2/10/2009 2:10:54 PM , Rating: 2
As a side note, I find it hilarious how uninformed these articles are (MSNBC) such as suggesting you need another antenna. Guess what, it uses the exact same frequencies as the analog signal (when shut off), so no new antenna needed.

All this crap about poor disadvanted who need to brave the winter cold to install a new antenna is also just sensationalist propaganda.

RE: Total BS!
By paulpod on 2/10/2009 5:40:48 PM , Rating: 2
Here's some actual experience. I have be trying to receive digital broadcast in L.A. since its inception and can assure you that the digital UHF signal is very difficult to receive. Noise and ghosting problems are tolerable with analog but the picture is completely knocked out with digital. Sure, power is being increased but that will just move the problem to people farther from the transmitter.

(There is a reason that broadcast TV started out on VHF bands!!!)

Problems inherent in UHF are worsened by the unbelievably crappy receiver they are putting in these ripoff convertor boxes. (They are not worth $4, let alone $40-60.) I have a very good "DTV" antenna feeding a PC tuner (Dvico Fusion) and one of the convertor boxes (after a splitter).

The PC tuner gets 95-100% signal on all channels with the antenna in almost any orientation. The convertor box does not get a watchable signal unless the orientation is painstakingly fine tuned. Swapping cables does not help.

I would bet tuners in cheap digital TVs will have the same problems.

The idea that antenna systems tweaked for VHF analog will work well for UHF digital is a pipe dream. Couple convertor box reception problems with shameful compression artifacts, lack of automatic aspect ratio control, lack of VCR/DVR support, lack of HD output, lack of S-video output, lack of pass-through, pathetic remote, and insanely bad downscaling artifacts and you are going to have a lot of people realizing they have been lied to.

RE: Total BS!
By theapparition on 2/11/2009 8:25:06 AM , Rating: 2
There is a reason that broadcast TV started out on VHF bands!!!

Thanks for exactly proving my point.

Once the VHF analog signal is turned off, the digital signal will move from it's currrent UHF home to the existing VHF channel. The digital channels abandoning these higher channel UHF frequencies make room for the emergency services and wireless access.

The idea that antenna systems tweaked for VHF analog will work well for UHF digital is a pipe dream.

But it's not supposed to. Yes, the UHF receiver in the boxes may be pretty crappy, but that's because they'll primarily be tuning towards VHF after the switch happens. Just another reason why it should have happened already.

RE: Total BS!
By psychobriggsy on 2/10/2009 5:55:34 PM , Rating: 2
No, they broadcast simultaneously for at least twice as long and can't get their act together.

Britain has had Digital Terrestrial since the old OnDigital days - that's 1998. Freeview came when that went bust, but has been around for 5 or 6 years using the same system.

And Britain will complete the switchover in 2012! Bloody ridiculous!

RE: Total BS!
By MrPoletski on 2/11/2009 4:49:35 AM , Rating: 2
too many old biddies got angry about having their daytime tv taken from them :/

RE: Total BS!
By rcc on 2/10/2009 4:06:04 PM , Rating: 2
That's like pulling a scab off slowly. Ouch.

Just do it and get it done.

RE: Total BS!
By TheFace on 2/10/09, Rating: -1
RE: Total BS!
By afkrotch on 2/10/2009 12:16:54 PM , Rating: 2
New TV, can be had for like what? $50 or higher? There's those with big TVs of course that range in the $500+ range, but if you can afford that, you sure as hell can afford a converter.

Either way, it's TV. Not a necessity. If you want it working, then get it working. Hell, I'd just cut the plug right now. Give a 10 min presidential speech talking about the cutover. Then at the end, cut it over.

RE: Total BS!
By Oregonian2 on 2/10/2009 11:17:50 PM , Rating: 1
Some new TV's are more like the $500++++++++ range.

Even "inexpensive" decent sized ones are at least $500+++.


P.S. - A 32" new one isn't like a 32" old one, it's more like a 27" old one. The new aspect ratio inflates the size numbers (or more properly, deflates size for a given number).

RE: Total BS!
By MrPickins on 2/10/2009 12:17:18 PM , Rating: 5
How long have these people had to acquire new tuner boxes? Plenty long, IMO.

I like the saying: "Lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine!"

RE: Total BS!
By Master Kenobi on 2/10/2009 12:25:35 PM , Rating: 2
I like the saying: "Lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine!"

I live by that policy.

RE: Total BS!
By quiksilvr on 2/10/2009 1:11:05 PM , Rating: 2
Until you have children.

RE: Total BS!
By Master Kenobi on 2/10/2009 2:51:45 PM , Rating: 1
No intention to have kids. I find them to be a risky business proposition.

RE: Total BS!
By theapparition on 2/10/2009 3:26:19 PM , Rating: 3
Or the most rewarding experience of your life. Not everything can be measured in money.

But then again, not everyone should be a parent.

RE: Total BS!
By clovell on 2/11/2009 3:18:17 PM , Rating: 2
And still, those that should, but choose not to, are worth no less than those who do.

I have two.

RE: Total BS!
By quiksilvr on 2/12/2009 2:02:47 PM , Rating: 2
It depends what they do with their life. If they contribute to society and the next generation in some positive fashion then yes.

RE: Total BS!
By MrPickins on 2/10/2009 5:40:23 PM , Rating: 2
Children need to be taught this lesson also.

Just not as harshly as an adult.

RE: Total BS!
By Chaser on 2/10/2009 12:26:47 PM , Rating: 2
I bought and paid for a TV. But I need a Taxpayer funded coupon and time extension because a working TV in my rural home to watch Dancing with the Stars is a vital necessity to the quality of my life and my future success.

RE: Total BS!
By SlyNine on 2/10/2009 11:58:37 AM , Rating: 2
I was going to say, YOU CALL THAT OVERNIGHT!?

RE: Total BS!
By callmeroy on 2/10/09, Rating: -1
RE: Total BS!
By Chaser on 2/10/2009 12:29:53 PM , Rating: 1
I don't care about the ratings myself (never have) but it is a good tool to gauge the BS meter with some people's opinons and views because I'm a stupid idiot that should go back to my Nintendo.

RE: Total BS!
By callmeroy on 2/10/2009 2:09:53 PM , Rating: 2
um ok....that was a horrible slam. At least make it funny dude.

RE: Total BS!
By omnicronx on 2/10/2009 2:46:38 PM , Rating: 2
Don't worry, I agree with you here.

Trolling has reached an alltime high, people see two words in the title they are familiar with and act as though they are experts on the subject (without reading the article of course).

RE: Total BS!
By Chaser on 2/10/2009 3:27:47 PM , Rating: 2
That's because your brilliant comment contradicted your own useless point all in one sentence. So no surprise you didn't get it in the first place.

RE: Total BS!
By DASQ on 2/10/2009 12:35:26 PM , Rating: 2
It's onnnnllllyyyyyy teeeennaaaaggee wasteeelaaaaannnnd.

*shrug*. Baba O'Riley.

RE: Total BS!
By inighthawki on 2/10/2009 12:52:09 PM , Rating: 2
I think what they mean is that the US requires everyone to change all within one specific time. The broadcasting companies dont have to make a single change until the night before, rather than having deadlines over time. While many of them HAVE made changes over time, and the majority already have everything for the complete transition, that does not mean that they had to.

RE: Total BS!
By omnicronx on 2/10/2009 2:44:05 PM , Rating: 2
You are taking this out of context. What the article is trying to imply is that the switch itself is nationwide, not how long it took to prep for the switch. Other places in which they are switching by zone also took 7-10+ years before they started (ex europe). Places such as these won't finish their transition for a few years. So consider yourselves lucky you don't live elsewhere as their transition will be ongoing for the next few years, meanwhile yours will be complete by june.

Enough Already
By MozeeToby on 2/10/2009 11:52:37 AM , Rating: 2
Seriously, can we please just drop this subject?

It's been discussed on Daily Tech about a dozen times by now. It is/was a stupid idea that devolved into an even stupider bureaucratic cock up.

Can we please just move past this and talk about something interesting?

RE: Enough Already
By acase on 2/10/2009 12:00:57 PM , Rating: 1
I hear Chris Brown pimp slapped Rihanna...that more your style?

RE: Enough Already
By Master Kenobi on 2/10/2009 12:03:54 PM , Rating: 2
I'm tired of having to see just how stupid my government is in action. The US Congress is full of some of the biggest morons on the planet, but we don't need to be reminded of it :P

RE: Enough Already
By MrPickins on 2/10/2009 12:14:40 PM , Rating: 2
On the contrary, I think we need to hear all about the stupidity in our government. That way public outrage can rise high enough to cause some real change.

RE: Enough Already
By Master Kenobi on 2/10/2009 12:23:50 PM , Rating: 2
It will never rise to that level. 70% of the voting population doesn't have a clue how anything works in washington.

RE: Enough Already
By callmeroy on 2/10/2009 12:27:45 PM , Rating: 1
That is true no doubt, but the stronger point why there will never be a huge public revolt against our government --- Americans are largely all talk no walk....most folks in this country are just plain lazy, and want to be left alone -- they'll shoot their mouths off, and bitch online and what not but if put to the test to actually DO something (like requiring actually using spare time or moving body parts more than just their fingers at a phone or keyboard).....forget it.

RE: Enough Already
By MrBlastman on 2/10/2009 1:11:58 PM , Rating: 2
*shifty eyes*

I'm ready, I took action.

/me hugs his EBR

Revolution? Bring it on.

Sadly though, most Americans live in a fantasy place where they think everything will be okay and the Government will take care of them.

RE: Enough Already
By callmeroy on 2/10/2009 2:11:04 PM , Rating: 2
Sad but true....

RE: Enough Already
By gsellis on 2/11/2009 11:32:40 AM , Rating: 2
I think 70% is a little low. More than that do not know the difference between a Republic and a Democracy.

RE: Enough Already
By clovell on 2/11/2009 3:25:09 PM , Rating: 2
I often wonder what would happen in this country if we mandated that only those who actually pay taxes could vote. I'm not talking sales tax - I'm talking income (state or federal) or property taxes.

Imagine how the voting demographic would change. I mean, right now, we've damn near got a subsidized electorate. Once the new bailout passes, it should tip the scales.

But, I suppose that makes me a racist/bigot/elitist/insert-class-warfare-stereotyp e-that-'justifies'-you-asking-what-your-country-can -do-for-you-rather-than-the-other-way-around. But, that's cool, because that's exactly what I am.


RE: Enough Already
By callmeroy on 2/10/2009 12:25:12 PM , Rating: 2
Agree 10000000000% Why this pathetic story is being beat like the proverbial dead horse....I have no idea.

It is after all just TV we are talkinga bout right? Not food supplies, water, medical care, etc....

OH NOES I'll miss 90210 or Dancing with the Stars unless I switch to digital now!

Denmark as a whole...
By Clauzii on 2/10/2009 1:18:35 PM , Rating: 2
... switches over on the 30th of October this Year.

Where did the articles headline come from????

RE: Denmark as a whole...
By theapparition on 2/10/2009 2:02:29 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately I guess they are not considering Denmark a "major" country.

RE: Denmark as a whole...
By Clauzii on 2/10/2009 2:43:00 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe not, but a LOT of countries are set for overnight change. The US are not the only nation in the world allthough some believe so ;)

RE: Denmark as a whole...
By omnicronx on 2/10/2009 2:51:17 PM , Rating: 2
U.S. Only Large Nation to Switch to Digital Overnight
Denmark switching overnight is hardly a feet. New York city alone has almost twice the population of Denmark.

RE: Denmark as a whole...
By rcc on 2/10/2009 4:12:04 PM , Rating: 2
lol, so it's just one foot?

RE: Denmark as a whole...
By Clauzii on 2/10/2009 5:55:53 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, we're all hopping along over here ;) ...

RE: Denmark as a whole...
By Keeir on 2/10/2009 2:56:20 PM , Rating: 2
While slightly insulting, its pretty accurate

Denmark consists of 5-6 million people of 90%+ similarity with relative high degree of education and social welfare state.

Compared to California of 30 million plus, probably less than 75% have complete English fluency

Can you say...redundancy?
By acase on 2/10/2009 11:41:48 AM , Rating: 2
Anyone else feel like they just read the same paragraph 5 times?

RE: Can you say...redundancy?
By bldckstark on 2/10/2009 12:54:35 PM , Rating: 3

RE: Can you say...redundancy?
By Screwballl on 2/10/2009 2:09:28 PM , Rating: 2
It is called "creative bullsh**ting" and has been a normal occurrence with any news related media for the better part of 200+ years. It tends to work in both voice and print form.

When you want to say the same thing different ways and to fill out an otherwise short story. In this case they could have gotten away with 3 sentences.

RE: Can you say...redundancy?
By lennylim on 2/10/2009 5:57:50 PM , Rating: 2
Because "what I tell you three times is true".

By RU482 on 2/10/2009 11:43:29 AM , Rating: 4
We, unintentionally, are not switching completely overnight either. In Feb, many of the free market statations are going to say screw it and turn off their analog transmitters. The public TV stations will get stuck keeping theirs on until June.

By Screwballl on 2/10/2009 1:31:56 PM , Rating: 2
agreed... a regional approach may have gone smoother... I know most of the stations in the Southeast are ready and will be making the switch on Feb 17 (if they have not already). I would assume the Atlantic coast to New England is ready, great lakes may need a bit of a delay, the Central Plains from what I understand is pretty much ready to go.
The major areas I hear that are not ready are the desert areas of the southwest with a lot of remote transmitters and repeaters that still need to be updated/changed and some of the northern Rocky Mtn states with a similar situation due to snow covered passes that may have equipment buried during the winter months.

We could have done 5 or 6 regions and have it all ready to go over the course of a year or less. That way if one region needs more time, they can delay those areas without impacting the rest of the nation.
Southeast (LA, AR, TN, NC, SC, GA, AL, MS and FL),
Northeast (VA, WV, MD, DE, PA, NJ, NY, CT, RI, VT, NH, MA, ME),
Great Lakes (KY, OH, IN, IL, MI, WI),
Central Plains (MN, ND, SD, NE, IO, MO, KS, OK, TX),
Rocky Mountain (MT, ID, WY, UT, NV, CO, AZ, NM), and Pacific (CA, OR, WA, AK, HI)

This way the only real problem areas would be crossover areas say like El Paso TX that may rely on NM for some of its broadcasts... of course there should be an automatic A/D switch built into the converters... even the cheap $100-200 LCD TVs usually have the built in switch.

Another reason I heard about the delay is relating to economic reasons... possibly help keep sales up slightly on new TVs which would come after people get their tax refunds, many would opt to get a new TV over a box.

By Oregonian2 on 2/10/2009 11:25:08 PM , Rating: 2
Why would it be smoother? Only thing I can think of is that if sparks fly from folk who ignored the warnings thinking they were only fooling about the change -- folk in other areas might believe the change was really coming. Is this it? Or is it that just fewer people will be sparking at one time where one million per month for five months is "smoother" than five million in one month.


I'm all right Jack
By blowfish on 2/10/2009 2:56:57 PM , Rating: 2
seems to be the attitude of many of these posts. Fine if you can afford a new digital TV, or if you have a working roof antenna.

For those people who rely on a "rabbit ears" indoor antenna, the picture is very different - literally. If you're lucky, you'll be able to receive the digital channels. If you're not, you will receive maybe just one or two channels - i.e. less than the number of analogue channels you used to get.

Although I have sufficient money to buy a new TV and to install a roof top antenna, I hate the look of roof top antennae and would never fit one. We can just about get two digital channels using a rabbit ears, and they drop out a lot of the time with passing aircraft or changing weather.

It's just as well that the great bulk of US TV is complete garbage, with about 30% commercials. We stopped watching TV more than five years ago, and watch only DVD's, streaming video or time-shifted and commercial free recorded TV shows. It would be nice to be able to get local weather forecasts, however, and maybe even a bit of public TV.

The government has sold off bandwidth for vast amounts of money and provided rebates for analogue TV owners to get cheap converter boxes with a relatively small fraction of the proceeds, but they have left the least fortunate members of the community, an estimated 15M users, with a worse service than they had before. They carried out no practical trials, it appears that they simply listened to the idealised nonsense spouted by technical advisors and other "experts".

The one good thing that should come out of it is that people will probably watch less rubbish TV.

Different Philos. in Governance
By Keeir on 2/10/2009 3:18:31 PM , Rating: 2
What we are seeing with this insistance to delay the switch and then justify this action with a bunch of propaganda is a disturbing change in government policy.

The most "nuetral" source in this mess says that as of Jan. 18, 2008 an entire month before the transition, 94.3% of households were ready for the transistion. Assuming that the trend line from the previous month continued with an increase, on Febuary 17th, 95%+ households would have been ready for the transistion.

The sad truth is that when dealing with large amounts of people, there should be "reasonable" goal of awarness and preparation. The ideal of "100%" readiness can never be acchieved, even if the government went home to home installing DTV equipment.

If I were to samply 100 people on the street, what are a few things that 5 of those would not know?

Where Iraq is?
Who is the Speaker of the House?
What the Vice President Does?
15 x 9?
How many feet before a turn a turn signal should be turned on?
Are coriander and cilantro from the same plant?
Is chocolate poisonous to dogs?
The defination of the word "hue"?


I have trouble thinking of many things 95% of Americans ARE prepared for to deal with in thier life or in general have knowledge about. The fact that 95%+ would have been prepared for the transistion is nearly a mirale accomplishment...

By wvh on 2/10/2009 5:22:46 PM , Rating: 2
Finland switched to digital overnight a few years ago. OK, it's not a large country population-wise, but I fail to see the relevance when the numbers get up to millions anyway. If you really want digital broadcasting you just have to push people, otherwise you will have to wait forever. There will always be a small percentage staring with hollow eyes at the trains rolling by.

It's not unlike IPv6: if "they" would have set a fixed date on which IPv4 would be "unplugged", we wouldn't have been dragging along for over 10 years already. Ofcourse, since the internet doesn't have a central authority as such, it's a bit harder to enforce such changes. It shouldn't be such a problem for a national government, with all its means and media access, to launch a nation-wide information campaign and set a hard date for transition.

By nofumble62 on 2/11/2009 12:00:00 AM , Rating: 2
The government spoils our party.

"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs
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