Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Digital conversion may not work in all homes

The switch to digital television may be more difficult for many poorer consumers than the government of Congress has admitted. Many homes with rabbit ears are older antennas will not receive all the stations when transmitted digitally, even given the new converter boxes. Many consumers will have to purchase new antennas and might have to be able to install them outside.

In some areas, with hills or buildings, digital signals will not reach all homes. Digital signals tend to black out completely rather than degrade with distance or interference.

High rise apartment dwellers are familiar with the problem. In most apartment buildings, it’s impossible to get reception without hookup to a master antenna, so often apartment residents find that they need cable in practice. Cable was common in New York City by the early 1970s.

Furthermore, some cable companies transmit some channels with analog signals, and this changes. Some cable subscribers could lose some channels unless they pay more.

Kim Hart has a front page story in The Washington Post Wednesday Jan. 21, “Technical Difficulties: Switch to Digita TV May Not Be as Smooth as Advertised,” link here.

Comcast has a page explaining its position on the issue here.

NBC Washington consumer reporter Liz Crenshaw has a page on the transition here.

Barack Obama has suggested that the mandatory conversion date be pushed back.

Feb. 5

The media is reporting that Congress has voted to delay the mandatory conversion until June 12.

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