Analog TV users will need a converter
There was an article recently about people with analog TV having to get a converter box to switch over to digital TV. We have analog TV and use the regular rabbit-ear antenna. With the digital box, will we be able to receive all regular stations for free or will we have to pay? How does the digital box work?
Answer: It is confusing, but the basic facts, as explained by the Federal Communications Commission, are:
All analog broadcasting will stop in the United States on Feb. 17, 2009, by congressional mandate.
Your analog TV, which receives over-the-air programming, will continue to work and you will be able to watch your current stations for free, but you will need to buy a converter box to convert the digital broadcasts into analog.
The converter box will not improve the quality of your analog television to the quality of digital television. For that, you need to have a digital television set.
People with analog TVs who subscribe to cable or satellite programming are advised to contact their service providers about obtaining converter boxes.
To help ease the transition and costs of the converter boxes, the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration will set up a coupon subsidy program.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2008, through March 31, 2009, all U.S. households can request up to two coupons, worth $40 each, to be used toward the purchase of up to two converter boxes.
Congress has authorized $990 million to cover the coupons. Another $510 million will be available, if needed, but these funds will be limited to people who now receive analog programming for free.
It's not known how much the converter boxes will cost, but some estimates are $50 to $60 each.
Details on how to apply for the coupons and a toll-free number to call for information are to be established later this year.
Analog TV uses magnetic waves to transmit pictures and sounds, while digital TV transmits information via "data bits," like a computer.
Digital TV "allows the same number of stations to broadcast using fewer total channels (less of the broadcast spectrum) which will free up scarce and valuable spectrum for public safety and new wireless services," the FCC says of the conversion (see http://dtv.gov/consumercorner.html).
To the good Samaritans of Manoa. On Wednesday, March 14, my 85-year-old father fell out of bed and could not get up. Someone walking by heard him calling for help and called 911. Police responded and called paramedics to check him out. He was taken to Queen's Medical Center, but was not hurt. Mahalo to all those involved in helping him, especially to the people walking by that morning -- if not for you, things might not have turned out so positive -- and to the two police officers who calmed him down while waiting for the paramedics. -- The Reis Family
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