Digital TV for the masses

14Mar07

This  is a quick follow up to the Internet over TV airwaves  post and Daniels comment. digital-tv

In the last post I was writing about an industry alliance led by Google, Microsoft and HP, who’s plans are to use some TV spectrum for internet access over the air. Since there is very little spectrum available now they are planning to use the “bandwidth” which is going to be freed after the shutdown of analog tv in the United States by 2009.

Now, what is actually going to happen in 2009 when there won’t be any free analog TV? You might already have bought a digital receiver or it might have come built in to your new high definition television. But that’s not the case for about 20 million people in the US. And that’s what the government is going to do about that issue.

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) said it is setting aside $990 million to pay for the boxes. Each home can request up to two $40 coupons for a digital-to-analog converter box, which consumer electronics makers such as RCA and LG plan to produce. Prices for the box have not been determined, but industry and consumer groups have estimated they will run $50 to $75 each.

So Washington is going to subsidice digital receivers. Sure. But there is more to it.

“The whole digital TV transition will enable public safety responders to have more spectrum for more operability and public safety uses.” said Todd Sedmak, a spokesman for the telecommunications administration.

Which means that the free spectrum is going to be used by the state, the military and secret services which are craving for more bandwidth. But didn’t Gooogle, Microsoft and their allies want that spectrum as well? All we now so far is that there is a need for new communications channels and the big players are looking at every available option. The government though needs to give it’s institutions some more bandwidth and wants to sell the rest of the “white space” to the bidders. Gentlemen, start your engines!

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