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Digital TV Transition Signed into Law

The date is finally set.... February 17th 2009. On that date, over the air broadcast networks (e.g., NBC) will stop broadcasting analog TV signals and return those frequencies to the government. These frequencies will be partially auctioned off for use in new technologies, and partially set aside for improved communication between public safety agencies.

If you don't have a digital TV by the above date, your TV will no longer work without a converter box that can turn digital broadcasts back into an analog format. The new law provides for $40 coupons to consumers toward the purchase of these converter boxes. (This is just for over-the-air... so, for example, if you have an analog TV, with digital cable or satellite TV service, those providers would continue to provide you the converter boxes for those services).

Note that unlike analog, digital broadcasts come in several different resolutions, the highest of which is HDTV, high definition TV. The new rule doesn't mean all broadcasts will be in HDTV on that date, although HDTV programming will likely continue to increase over the next several years as more consumers purchase those sets.

We'll be adding content to MyRatePlan in the months ahead with more information on this topic.