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The End of TV As We Know It: The Digital TV Transition (and what to do about it) Jon Bell, Presbyterian College Faculty Forum, 21 September 2007 with some later updates How People Get TV Source: Television Bureau of Advertising, http://www.tvb.org/ The Big Switch

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the end of tv as we know it the digital tv transition

The End of TVAs We Know It:The Digital TV Transition

(and what to do about it)

Jon Bell, Presbyterian College

Faculty Forum, 21 September 2007

with some later updates

how people get tv
How People Get TV

Source: Television Bureau of Advertising, http://www.tvb.org/

the big switch
The Big Switch
  • By the morning of February 18, 2009, all analog broadcast TV stations in the USA must shut down.
  • Everyone who receives over-the-air TV with an antenna must switch to digital TV stations which are mostly already in operation.
why the switch
Why the Switch?
  • Improved picture quality (HDTV)
  • More efficient use of bandwidth
  • Vacate channels 52-69 for other uses and raise money by auctioning them
  • More bandwidth for emergency services
  • Keep ahead of the Japanese
some alphabet soup
Some Alphabet Soup
  • Analog broadcast & cable TV = NTSC
    • National Television Systems Committee
    • Or: “Never Twice the Same Color”
  • Digital broadcast TV = ATSC
    • Advanced Television Standards Committee
    • Also used in Canada, S. Korea, Bahamas, Honduras & Mexico
    • Europe uses DVB-T
    • Japan & Brazil use ISDB-T
  • Digital cable TV = QAM
    • Quadrature Amplitude Modulation
key dates
Key Dates
  • 1996: Congress authorizes transition
  • 1997: Each station gets a second channel for digital broadcasts
  • 2002: Most stations have begun digital broadcasts
  • 2006: Most stations are at full power
  • 2006: Congress sets final deadline
  • 2008: Subsidized converter boxes
the digital tv experience
The Digital TV Experience
  • Improved picture quality
    • Analog with weaker and weaker signals
    • Digital with weaker and weaker signals
  • Program guide information
    • Display depends on TV or receiver
  • Virtual channel numbers
  • Multicasting
the digital tv experience16
The Digital TV Experience
  • Improved picture quality
    • Analog with weaker and weaker signals
    • Digital with weaker and weaker signals
  • Program guide information
    • Display depends on TV or receiver
  • Virtual channel numbers
  • Multicasting
the digital tv experience20
The Digital TV Experience
  • Improved picture quality
    • Analog with weaker and weaker signals
    • Digital with weaker and weaker signals
  • Program guide information
    • Display depends on TV or receiver
  • Virtual channel numbers
  • Multicasting
the digital tv experience23
The Digital TV Experience
  • Improved picture quality
    • Analog with weaker and weaker signals
    • Digital with weaker and weaker signals
  • Program guide information
    • Display depends on TV or receiver
  • Virtual channel numbers
  • Multicasting
virtual channel numbers
Virtual Channel Numbers
  • Stations will continue to “own” their old analog channel numbers, in perpetuity.
  • Digital TVs display them as virtual channel numbers and automatically convert them to the actual digital channels.
  • You must do a channel scan so your TV can find the actual digital channels and set up a conversion table.
  • You normally don’t need to know the actual digital channel.
the digital tv experience26
The Digital TV Experience
  • Improved picture quality
    • Analog with weaker and weaker signals
    • Digital with weaker and weaker signals
  • Program guide information
    • Display depends on TV or receiver
  • Virtual channel numbers
  • Multicasting
multicasting
Multicasting
  • Total data capacity (bandwidth) of a digital channel is about 19 Mbits/sec
  • Stations can divide it into sub- channels with different programming
    • SC ETV (channel 29)
    • WSPA (channel 7)
multicasting31
Multicasting
  • Total data capacity (bandwidth) of a digital channel is about 19 Mbits/sec
  • Stations can divide it into sub- channels with different programming
    • SC ETV (channel 29)
    • WSPA (channel 7)
so far a well kept secret
So Far, a Well-Kept Secret
  • Stations have generally not promoted their digital channels yet
  • Some retailers claim that you need to buy cable or satellite service in order to get HDTV (FALSE!)
  • Expect increased publicity from stations and government agencies during the next year
if you use an antenna for analog tv
If you use an antenna for analog TV:
  • You must either
    • Buy a new TV with an ATSC tuner
      • HDTV (widescreen plasma, LCD, DLP, etc.)
      • SDTV (old-style tube TV with ATSC tuner)
    • Buy an external ATSC tuner (“converter box”)
      • Federal subsidy program begins in January 2008
  • Likewise for VCRs and old DVD recorders, if you use them to record directly “off the air”
subsidized digital to analog converter boxes
Subsidized Digital-to-Analog Converter Boxes
  • Free $40 coupons
  • Good only for specifically designated converter boxes, purchased at retail
  • Round 1 – 22 million coupons, up to two per household
  • Apply at http://www.dtv2009.gov/ beginning 1 January 2008
  • Boxes available in February or March
if you use an antenna for analog tv37
If you use an antenna for analog TV:
  • You must either
    • Buy a new TV with an ATSC tuner
      • HDTV (widescreen plasma, LCD, DLP, etc.)
      • SDTV (old-style tube TV with ATSC tuner)
    • Buy an external ATSC tuner (“converter box”)
      • Federal subsidy program begins in January 2008
  • Likewise for VCRs and old DVD recorders, if you use them to record directly “off the air”
antennas and digital tv
Antennas and Digital TV
  • Digital and analog TV use the same set of VHF and UHF channels.
  • An antenna cares only about the frequency of the signal (VHF or UHF).
  • Analog vs. digital matters only to the TV’s tuner.
  • An antenna that works well with analog channels will probably work well with most digital channels.
local antenna conditions
Local Antenna Conditions
  • Greenville stations are 20-80 miles away, several in the NC mountains.
  • A good roof antenna is needed.
    • Must be able to receive both high-VHF (7-13) and UHF (14-51) channels.
  • A rotator and pre-amplifier are helpful.
  • A good setup can also receive some stations from Columbia and Charlotte.
local antenna conditions41
Local Antenna Conditions
  • Greenville stations are 20-80 miles away, several in the NC mountains.
  • A good roof antenna is needed.
    • Must be able to receive both high-VHF (7-13) and UHF (14-51) channels.
  • A rotator and pre-amplifier are helpful.
  • A good setup can also receive some stations from Columbia and Charlotte.
if you use cable tv
If you use cable TV:
  • You are not directly affected by the analog broadcast shutdown in 2009.
  • Cable companies must provide local channels in analog format until 2012.
    • Starting in 2009 they will convert broadcast digital signals for this purpose
  • They will probably convert other analog channels to digital during the next few years.
if you use satellite tv
If you use satellite TV:
  • It’s already digital, so you are not affected by all this, except maybe peripherally.
resources
Resources
  • Federal Communications Commission
    • http://www.dtv.gov/
  • Subsidized converter box program
    • http://www.dtv2009.gov/
  • Info about HDTV and especially antennas
    • http://www.hdtvprimer.com/
  • Info about TV signals by location
    • http://www.antennaweb.org/
    • http://www.tvfool.com/
  • Discussion forums
    • http://www.avsforum.com/ (see the HDTV Area)