Oct 292008
Authors: Glen Pfeiffer, Ryan Gibbons

Several years ago, the elder Mr. Pfeiffer (my Dad) encountered a sales rep at a Radio Shack who regaled him with a sales pitch about “digital” being the new big thing in a discussion about digital signals.

“Digital, it’s the thing of the future man, thing of the future,” he said (this line was quoted often in my household for years to come, thanks to the impression the guy made with his, ahem, level of excitement)./

Of course now, digital is not only the future, it has defined technology development in the past couple of decades. In a couple months, however, the digital revolution will take another step: It will become standardized in the television world. That’s right, no more analog signal will be broadcast.

The transition has many benefits, and the most noticeable will undoubtedly be the ability for the digital signal to send larger “files” over the airwaves. This opens numerous opportunities for TV stations to expand their programming, and not only will HD broadcasts be available, but multiplexing/will now become a reality.

Multiplexing is a fun concept that adds sub-channels to your current line-up. Think of it as having not only a channel 9, but a channel 9.1, 9.2, 9.3 and so-forth.

This means that not only can you tune into your favorite soap on channel 9, but if you wanted to, you could flip to channel 9.1 –which could be anything from a dedicated weather station, a shopping network or even an interactive channel. The possibilities are limited as to what you can do with your remote but none-the-less better than where they are now.

And now the answer to the question none of you were asking: What will be done with the old frequencies that we were sending the analog TV over?

Well, this is actually old news, but some which you may not have heard. Earlier this/year, the FCC auctioned off all the soon-to-be-free airspace for a hefty $19.6 billion.

The majority of this frequency space was bought by Verizon Wireless/and AT&T, both of which will use the new frequencies to/power/their new high-speed networks./The FCC also decided to/section off a small part of the spectrum to be used for emergency services.

So how do you know if the digital TV switch affects you? Well, if you’re not paying for your TV service (i.e., a cable subscription or satellite), and if your TV is more than a few/years old,/it’s a safe to say/that you need to look into buying an analog-to-digital converter.

Because TVs need an analog signal to produce a picture, you will need a converter/in order to make use of the new digital signal. While new/TVs come with built-in converters, anything/from 2007 or before/is questionable.

You can visit http://dtv2009.org to find answers to any questions you may have, a quick questionnaire to confirm that you do indeed need a digital converter and, most importantly, a $40 coupon that will make the purchase of said converter a whole lot easier on the wallet.

Columnists Glen Pfeiffer and Ryan Gibbons can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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