2009 Will Say Goodbye to Rabbit Ears
Analog television’s days are numbered as Congress has finally settled on the date that all US households must be equipped with digital tuners to continue receiving broadcast television. If signed by President Bush, the bill set the switchover for February 17, 2009.
A decidedly split House of Representatives passed the bill last week by a vote of 216-214 after the Senate passed it, also by a slim margin. Included in the bill is a $990 million subsidy program that grants eligible households up to two $40 vouchers to make the technical adjustments.
Only seven percent of US TV viewers are expected to still rely solely antennae reception in early 2009 with the remaining 93 percent unaffected by the switch as subscribers to digital cable or satellite services.
The government plans to retake control of the analog spectrum, which runs on a 700MHz frequency band and can be divided into several more digital signals, and auction it off in 2008. The analog band travels greater distances than the current bands used by wireless companies.
What spectrum that is not reserved for police and emergency services will be of supreme interest to companies looking to expand their wireless offerings. Ideally, it also opens up possibilities for cheaper broadband networks with cheaper access to broadband Internet customers. The auction is expected raise $10 billion for the US government.