According to the American Broadcasters Association, over 100,000 households in Arkansas receive their signal via an antenna that will no longer receive a signal in the near future.
In 1996, the federal government passed a law requiring all analog television transmitions to switch over to digital on Feb. 17, 2009.
The federal government mandated the switch to free up the scarce and valuable analog broadcast spectrum, allowing these frequencies to be used for public safety and emergency services, such as police, fire, medical services, and new wireless services, such as wireless broadband. Already, more then 1,600 television stations throughout the United States are broadcasting digital programs, according to authorities.
Consumers who use antennas or "rabbit ears" to receive over-the-air broadcast signals on televisions that only possess analog tuners, will have to purchase an analog-to-digital converter to receive the same broadcast signals on the same television.
If a person already has a good VHF and UHF antenna, either indoors or on the roof of a home, it is not necessary to buy an antenna that is "HD ready." Digital Television (DTV) broadcasters have been assigned channels in the VHF and UHF bands, between 54 and 700 MHz, where analog channels 2 to 51 are now. Therefore, as long as a DTV signal is available, the existing antenna should still work after the transition is complete.
Those who subscribe to cable or satellite service should contact their provider to find out whether they receive analog or digital signals.
All new televisions sold in the U.S. since March 1, 2007, have contained a digital tuner; however, retailers are still allowed to sell analog only sets from existing inventory. If a consumer recently purchased a television, the manufacturer will have the tuner information.
Premier Home Furnishings in Salem has sold HDTV only televisions for several years now, according to Sonny Smith.
HDTV is the highest quality digital signal. Consumers should note that purchasing an analog to digital converter will not change their current set to high definition, only the signal.
People who currently receive over-the-air digital programming do not need to do anything in preparation of the February 2009 deadline, according to Arkansas State Attorney Dustin McDaniel.
Between now and March 31, 2009, all U.S. households can request up to two coupons, worth $40 each, to be used toward the purchase of digital-to-analog converter boxes which will be available in stores later this spring. Coupons can be requested online at www.dtv.gov. A coupon application, which can be downloaded from the Web site, should be mailed to: P.O. Box 2000, Portland, OR 97208 or call the 24-hour coupon hotline at 888-DTV-2009.
In addition to changes in television signals, cellular telephones that use analog signals may also be affected. Rosemary Kimball of the Federal Communications Commission said most phones use a digital signal but older models may not. Call the service provider to find out what signal is used for an individual phone model.
Likewise, some alarm systems use analog signals to contact the alarm company. Systems installed before spring 2006 may be at risk. The FCC urges consumers to contact their alarm company to find out more.