Anonymous asked in Politics & GovernmentPolitics · 1 decade ago

Mandatory high-definition TV switch in '09: stupid and unnecessary or not a big deal?

I tend to lean toward the former. Why is high-definition necessary?

Thanks for your thoughts.


Yep, sorry, you're right: the switch from analog to digital.

I don't pay for cable or satellite and never will because it's a total waste of money, so I don't like the idea that the government is forcing me to buy something just so I can get my crappy one or two over-the-air stations.

Anyway, it looks like this is profiting the feds big-time; somehow they suddenly own the extra bandwidth this switch will open up just because they said so. "By the time of the 2009 switch, the government will have auctioned the remaining spectrum to companies interested in deploying wireless technologies. The proceeds are estimated at about $10 billion by the Congressional Budget Office" ( ).

12 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I think very few people understand what is going on here.

    First, it's not a mandatory switch to high-definition TV, it's a mandatory switch from old analog TV broadcasts to a new digital broadcasting system. HDTV does use the digital broadcast system, but the two are certainly not synonymous.

    Next, the main reason for change is it frees up a limited and valuable wireless spectrum. Without going too in depth, spectrum is space on radio waves used for wirelessly carrying data. Each class of wireless communication device (wifi, cell phones, air-traffic control, TV, radio, the list goes on and on) is assigned to its own range of spectrum called a channel (or multiple channels). This is so no two types of wireless traffic interfere with each other. The faster the wireless connection needs to be, the more spectrum that needs to be assigned to each channel. And since there are only a limited range of radio waves that can be used for carrying data, there is only a limited amount of spectrum available for each of these applications.

    An example you can see of how tight we are on available spectrum is by looking at AT&T's 3G coverage map. AT&T uses a 3G technology called WCDMA for their latest high speed data traffic network. While it is popular technology in other countries, it's need for large amounts of spectrum have prevented it from becoming common place in the US. Currently, the only place you will get such coverage is near major cities where there are enough customers for AT&T to justify the extremely high cost of the required spectrum.

    Old analog transmissions, such as the old TV broadcast system, make very poor use of wireless spectrum. They gobble up the airwaves and are the SUVs of the wireless world. They are also slower, deliver poorer quality, and consume more power compared to newer digital transmission technologies. Simply put, most analog transmission technologies are obsolete.

    This is where digital TV comes in. If you've ever played with a digital TV tuner, you may have notices that there are numerous standard definition channels inside a single broadcast digital channel. For example, there will be 02-1, 02-2, 02-3... and so on. This means that with a digital system, more TV channels can be broadcast, using fewer broadcast channels and thus less spectrum. Much less spectrum.

    Finally, you need to understand why there is a big push in government to free up this spectrum. Following 9/11, there were issues with communication between the various public safety agencies, such as fire, police, ambulance, military, FBI, and so on. The problem was there was a lack of a unified communication system; every group had their own system using their own set of technologies on their own channels. Part of the 9/11 Commission Report stated the need for a standardized communication and data sharing system was needed between all of these agencies. In order to implement such a system though, a good amount of open spectrum was needed.

    TV broadcasts, being an antiquated resource hog, were the clear choice to require a reform. Being that digital transmissions are cheaper and allow for far greater capabilities, broadcasting companies were bound to switch on their own eventually. At least this way the government is helping people get a new digital tuner box.

    So yes, the mandatory switch is completely necessary. While a minority of Americans will be slightly inconvenienced by having to apply for a coupon and purchasing a converter box, the switch will benefit us as a whole.

    Source(s): I work in the wireless communication industry
  • 1 decade ago

    Digital TV (which includes HDTV broadcasts) was introduced in 1995 to make better use of the broadcast spectrum.

    So the government decided to maximize the use of the spectrum by making the television band more efficient. Digital signals use much less width than the current analog signal. Even if the picture was still standard definition, your current TV would not know how to interpret the signal. Plus, TV stations will be able to use less energy to broadcast their signal.

    The military is one of the backers of the legislation, as they are running out of wireless signals to better use their wireless weaponry.

    So yes, better use of the broadcast spectrum will be better for us all.

    EDIT: The only people who will have to get a HDTV are those who receive broadcast signals over-the-air, not cable and satellite customers. They can continue to send analog signals to their subscribers. It will be up to those companies if they want to continue to send the analog signal or end it.

  • Lou
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    It is going to cause some real pain for poor and elderly people that can only afford local stations via an antenna.

    They will be forced to somehow get a coupon from the Gov for 40$ and then come up with the remaining dollars to get a

    converter box. And also get to a store to buy it.

    This is most unnecessary but then has MONEY/GOV ever cared about the rest of us.

  • 1 decade ago

    I don't understand it either. The electronics companies must have made some big contributions to government to get this done. I have 4 TVs in my house, none are digital or hd or whatever. They can either buy me 4 new TVs or leave me alone.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Acoording to the government it is to free up band width I they want it so bad the coupons they are giving out should be for the Full price of the converter boxes not $40 wihich covers part of it After all they are the ones forcing thiws upon us Not doing so is a crock of Sh*t

  • 1 decade ago

    I don't think it's for HD, just a digital signal. Like someone else said, it will open up wireless bandwidth for better uses.

    they are giving you a whole year to save up if you don't already have a digital capable TV.

    Not a big deal.

  • 1 decade ago

    MANDATORY HDTV is unnecessary. This is more evidence of how corporations make the rules that all Americans are forced to live by.

    HDTV should be a choice, not shoved down our throats. In Chicago they forced everyone to purchase carbon monoxide detectors due to two people dying from a leak in their home. I'd prefer being made aware of the dangers and then allowing me to choose if I want to do something about it in my own home.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    There are a lot of poor and elderly who simply don't have cable or can't afford yet another technological piece of equipment so that their TV will actually work. I think it's a bunch of crap just to screw the consumer once again.

  • 1 decade ago

    Stupid and unnecessary.

    Hi-def ISN'T necessary. And it's ridiculous to expect all people to have to go out and spend money to either buy a hi-def television or an adapter for their current television.

    My intention is to cancel my cable and watch the shows I want to watch online.

  • 1 decade ago

    I believe you are going to have to have a digital TV because that is what is going to be used to get you the signal. I do believe it is ludicrous and again is going to cost the people money.

    It is a high -tech world and we are going to have it shoved up our A**.

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