Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Don't Forget DTV Transition On Friday

Friday, June 12 is the day most US high-power TV stations turn off their analog signals and broadcast exclusively in digital.

I would imagine that anyone who can understand this blog is already technically sophisticated (OK, geeky) enough to know this, but I thought I'd pass it along anyway.

Friday promises to be an interesting day from an engineering standpoint. There is no sudden, dramatic event where all analog channels go dark at once.

Stations are changing over in 6-hour windows. There is considerable engineering required, since in most cases the existing UHF digital simulcast will be moved to the former analog frequency, or to an altogether new one. VHF channels 2 through 6 are being vacated, so many large network affiliates in big markets will broadcast on UHF after the change.

In many cases, there is a loss in coverage due to the frequency changes or other technical factors. This is shown on the FCC's list as a "2% loss." Actually, it's a >=2% loss.

Spectrum freed up after the change will be reallocated to public safety and probably some kind of mobile data communication for consumers.

The acting FCC chair is in Los Angeles today for a media event aimed at generating publicity that might be seen by the estimated 4% of households in that market which still haven't done anything to get ready for the change.

A complete schedule of all US DTV cutovers is available from the FCC in an Excel spreadsheet. It's pretty interesting.