Friday, June 5, 2009

Digital TV Transition Info - June 12, 2009


So now I'm temping as a DTV Converter Box Installer, which basically means I'm going from one person's house to another and connecting their converter boxes. instructing customers on how to use the remote and advising them on what to do in case they don't have a signal. As a former satellite TV installer, this is stuff I do in my sleep, but there are plenty of people who cannot do this type of thing themselves, or are just too nervous about tech hardware to know what to hook up.

There are at least two websites that will explain the need for and the process of hooking up a digital converter box, so that you may continue to watch network channels as before:

DTV.gov - This website was set up by the FCC in order to inform the general public about the digital transition, the necessary tools and hardware to install, tell you what channels you will receive in digital, depending on what region you happen to be in, and whether or not they are broadcasting in full digital or not, plus a handy channel guide for your region. It also has pages for locating local retailers in your area and how to acquire a discount coupon towards the purchase of a converter box.

Antennaweb.org - This site will give you options on how to "maximize your television reception" by offering various types of antennas and hardware to pull in the channels stronger. They also have suggestions and an FAQ about DTV and signal amplifiers.

- Not all the stations are broadcasting at full power at the moment; for whatever reason, some stations are waiting until the June 12 transition date. If you are experiencing weak signals on some channels and not others, this might be the reason. My suggestion is to wait until June 12th and see if the station signal stengthens. If not, go to one of the sites above for discussion on digital antenna options.

- If all else fails, what can you do? There are various digital TV amplifiers and aerials of different shapes and sizes, but if you can't install or afford those? Well, you more than likely can't get a refund if you used the discount coupon issued by the FCC, so determine if the box is in working condition (try it at another person's house where you know that person is getting signal), and if the box works, I suggest gifting or selling it to someone and getting some of your money back.

Unfortunately, the box is not a perfect solution to getting free TV; people who were not getting a signal before may likely not get one now, mainly because of obstructions in your locale like tall buildings or power lines. Cable TV is offering a promotion for new customers who are being displaced by the transition, and I'll bet satellite is offering the same deal, but the drawback for satellite is that not all building structures allow for dishes to be mounted on them, and if you don't have a clear line of sight between your dish and the company's satellite, then you're out of luck.

Now, none of this is an endorsement of one over the other, it's just a lsiting oof what your options are. You could also avoid the whole TV thing by getting your news on the radio and renting movies from the library for free.

If you are in need of further information or assitance, you can also call the FCC's DTV Hotline at 1-888-CALL-FCC (225-5322) or the TTY line for the deaf/hard of hearing: 1-888-TELL-FCC (835-5322). I currently service New York State only, but if you need to scehdule an installation, I or someone in your region will be scheduled to visit and install your converter box and discuss the functions and other options. And, please feel free to publish your experience of questions here. Good luck! >;)

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