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DTV is a major advance for broadcasting

June 10, 2009

The switch to digital television will finally happen this Friday, June 12.  At that time, anyone still using an analog television without either cable or a converter box will see their TV screens go black.

DTV1The conversion represents the first major reconfiguration of over-the-air broadcast television since the switch from black and white to color in the 1960s, says Temple professor of electrical and computer engineering Dennis Silage.  But back then, the switch was in a compatible mode, so consumers were not overly effected.

Silage says television broadcasters have been using the same analong modulation for over 50 years, but it is no longer as practical as the digital technology now available.  Digital technology, because it is a much more efficient mode of transmitting over-the-air signals, gives broadcasters many more options to put viewable material on television screens.

“Think of broadcast transmission as a pipe,” says Silage.  “I still have the same size pipe, but I can now send many more services down that pipe and have many more alternative services available to the consumer.”

Despite the best efforts by the government’ and broadcasters to prepare viewers for the switch, Silage believes there are still many consumers who are not ready.  That is especially true of those who regularly view small portable televisions like Sony Watchmans.

“There are many people who have Sony Watchmans who like to view the Phillies while on vacation up in the Poconos during the summer,” he said.  “They’re going to be basically out in the dark now.”


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