Ready or not, its almost time for Summit to go digital
February 17, 2008
SUMMIT COUNTY The U.S. Congress has mandated that all major analog television broadcasts switch to digital in February 2009, which has many people around the country questioning whether their televisions will be affected.We have to address this as a national situation before we talk about it as a local situation, said Gary Peterson, director of engineering for Summit Public Radio & Television. This is really only going to be a big deal for the people using antennas.In addition to providing a better sound and picture quality, the switch from analog to digital will free up parts of the valuable broadcast spectrum for public safety communication like police, fire departments and rescue authorities.With the creation of so many different broadcast transmiters the spectrum has become sort of clogged, said Peterson.In addition to clearing up the spectrum, digital broadcast will allow networks to offer high definition digital programming or multiple standard definition digital programs simultaneously.For example, while a station broadcasting in analog on channel 7 is only able to offer viewers one program, a station broadcasting in digital on channel 7 will offer viewers one digital program on 7-1, a second digital program on channel 7-2, and so on.The over-the-air television signals for Summit County come from the three Summit Public Radio & Television translators located on top of Baldy Mountain overlooking the town of Breckenridge. These translators take the signals of CBS, ABC, and NBC originating from Lookout Mountain in Denver and re-broadcast them throughout Summit County.Those who subscribe to cable or satellite services will see no change come February of next year and only those with antennas may need to look into upgrading.Most people will carry on and not even know it happened, said Suzanne Green, the president of Summit Public Radio & Television. Its important to explain that 95 percent of people will be fine and only a select few might have to invest in new box to translate the signal.Those residents who have rooftop antennas may have to purchase a digital-to-analog converter box to continue watching basic programming, and to help with the transition that Government has established the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program.Every U.S. household is eligible to receive up to two $40 coupons towards the purchase of analog-to-digital converter boxes, and manufacturers estimate the converter boxes will range from $40 to $70.These new converter boxes are getting a lot of attention because its a big money making opportunity, said Peterson.Residents with older analog television sets should not experience a problem with the new digital switch if they are connected to cable or satellite service, and only those with antennas will need to pursuer other options when preparing for the change.What I am wondering is how many people in Summit County still use antennas, said Green. We need to make the county aware that this change is coming and if there are enough antenna users then we may need to look into purchasing more translators.Green is urging any residents that use antenna televisions to contact Summit Public Radio & Television at firstname.lastname@example.org.