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Why Are We Switching to Digital Television Signals?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided that, by June 12, 2009, all full-power TV stations must cease broadcasting on their current analog channels and switch completely over to digital channels. Although this may seem like a big, useless nuisance, there really are good reasons to make the switch to DTV.

Sound and picture quality

For the average consumer, the switch to digital TV broadcasts only means better picture and sound quality. A digital signal doesn't suffer from the same degradation as an analog signal. Remember the days when your favorite show would drift in and out of audio and visual "snow?" With digital broadcasts, that snow is permanently melted.

Digital signals also mean that movies broadcast over the air can now appear in their original widescreen format instead of being cut down to fit the smaller television screen.

More options

A digital signal can carry more information than an analog signal, so more sound and video options can travel to your TV set. A DTV signal can offer multiple programming choices (called multicasting) as well as interactive capabilities. For example, a station can broadcast a transmission in high definition, for those HDTV users out there, or, using the same bandwidth, can transmit up to three standard-definition (SDTV) transmissions; that's three different shows on one digital channel.

Clearing up resources

The most important reason to make the switch to a digital signal is because it will free up valuable portions of the broadcast spectrum, which can then be used for other purposes, such as advanced wireless services and for public and safety services. Plus, networks and TV stations can stop spending the time, money, effort, and electricity doing double duty and transmitting both analog and digital signals.

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