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At least 700,000 people still have questions about DTV transition

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 14 Jun 2009 1:54 User comments (21)

At least 700,000 people still have questions about DTV transition According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the federal hotline set up to hear calls relating to the mandatory DTV transition has had over 700,000 calls since Friday morning, the day the analog signals were cut off.
200,000 of the calls were related to the federal coupons towards digital converter boxes, perhaps implying a significant amount of people still do not have the right equipment to receive digital signals.

Another 200,000 calls were from consumers who have the boxes but were confused on how to operate them successfully. The FCC told many to "re-scan the airwaves for digital frequencies," and says 99 percent of the problems were solved.

Many others called about problems with reception, which is a much deeper problem than simple converter box issues.

"Our job is far from over," said FCC Chairman Michael Copps. "This transition is not a one-day affair. We have known about re-scanning and reception issues for some time and have been doing our best to get the word out."

The most callers came from the Chicago, Illinois area, but significant calls came from Dallas, New York, Philadelphis and Baltimore as well.

The Commerce Department recently reported they had sent out coupons for over 60 million converter boxes, but were still receiving over 100,000 requests a day, even during the last week. Research firm SmithGeiger LLC says there are probably still over 2 million households which are not prepared, despite repeated warnings and a full marketing campaign by the government. The most likely groups to not be prepared? Minorities, people over 65, and people under the age of 35.

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21 user comments

114.6.2009 4:14
theridges
Inactive

Luckily i have all HD Tv's on Cable Boxes in my home...
but i know how good the digital signal over the air is and the picture quality it gives as well. Hopefully this works out well for everybody, i know that people in rural areas are going to have a problem with signal strength but im sure they will work that out some way...luckily here in orlando the signal is great and i can put a paper clip in the back of anyone of my HD TV's and pick up more than 15 channels.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 14 Jun 2009 @ 4:15

214.6.2009 4:46

Originally posted by theridges:
Luckily i have all HD Tv's on Cable Boxes in my home...
but i know how good the digital signal over the air is and the picture quality it gives as well. Hopefully this works out well for everybody, i know that people in rural areas are going to have a problem with signal strength but im sure they will work that out some way...luckily here in orlando the signal is great and i can put a paper clip in the back of anyone of my HD TV's and pick up more than 15 channels.

Wish my luck was that good. According to the FCC the main local stations have full signal strength but yet ABC and its 3 digital channels(local abc,weather, and this tv) come in perfect 99% of the time, but Fox and NBC rarely come in. Fox has 3 local digital stations, 2 come in maybe 50% of the time, and the other comes in, never on digital. Nor do I live in a rural area. Leave towards the out skits of the city limit, but a populated area none the less. less then 15 miles from all 3 stations but yet nothing for the most part. Hopefully an indoor antenna will cure that.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 14 Jun 2009 @ 4:47

314.6.2009 9:49

How has this whole thing ended up being so complicated in the UK we're slowly shutting off terrestrial in favour of DTV area by area. Most of us have had our digital boxes for ages. The areas that have actually lost terrestrial have had no problems at all and we don't have any stupid coupon system you just go to a shop and you pay 20+ for a box

414.6.2009 12:14

Well during the "Analog days" I received pretty much everything perfectly clear (except for the Spanish channel which wasn't a big deal)with the new DTV switchover I bought a converter box and top of the line roof antenna. I had to actually go out and buy the box at full price after receiving a letter that I was not qualified for a coupon (even though none of my sets have cable) Even had an installer come out just to make sure it's installed correctly (even though I could have done it myself). With all of these fantastic digital channels out there I am so pleased to be able to receive only ONE! ONE CHANNEL! The rest is pixilated garbage. Technician came out yesterday and checked the signals in the area. Come to find out we're too far way from the digital transmitters (analogue came in fine, but digital has a limited range, even running at 100%) and we're only in the suburbs and not a rural area. I refuse to pay for cable so I guess it's goodbye TV! Thank goodness for my DSL:-)

514.6.2009 12:41
varnull
Inactive

That might be co-channel interference or even a wrong group antenna.. Do you have a balun on it? Also a masthead amplifier might help.. Quite a few other options yet before giving up.. a DTV signal should be good to go for about 50 miles before it becomes unusable.
Thing is.. with analog what you see on the screen can help diagnostics.. with digital it's all or nothing.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 14 Jun 2009 @ 12:43

614.6.2009 21:42

I'm not sure every network has cutover completely either, and at that, with full signal strength. I live smack in the middle of Cleveland and Pittsburgh, plus there Erie,PA, Wheeling, WV, and Akron, OH aren't far away either.

I put up a new outdoor antenna (indoor ones are garbage!) and didn't get but 9 channels at first. After the original February deadline, I received two additional channels, one from Cleveland and one from Pittsburgh, both at a range of 60 miles away. On Saturday, I rescanned and upped from 9, then to 11 and now to 19 OTA DTV channels! I say just give it some time, because it's slowly progressing.

Also varnull is right. I was having trouble just getting locals until I put a balun on my outside line. Now everything is perfect. They are dirt cheap online, and I bought a handful of different gains to I could test out what worked for me.

714.6.2009 23:04

What I find funny is that people have had AT LEAST a full year to get their converter boxes, set them up, try them out, and work out any kinks... But the day the signals are cut off, they can find the FCC phone number to complain very quickly. Doesn't take them long to complain, but when action is required on their part to do something productive, they'll sit on their butts and put it off until the last minute.

Who cares, anyway... Network TV is trash. Not even worth the effort to watch.

815.6.2009 7:47

progrockt, you will not be missing much.

BobL, I would be amazed if there was not mass confusion. 80% of the population are morons (I am in this group), 60% are idiots and 40% are less intelligent than a dog. That low group is way too stupid to figure this out on their own. By this point, most have not actually figured out there is a problem. They are still hopeful that their TV will work tomorrow. In a few weeks they will figure out that their TV will not work tomorrow and will start to complain to friends and family. Someone will need to get them a box and set it up for them. These are the people that love TV and most shows are designed for them.

915.6.2009 7:55

ahh the joy I get from Americans failing...

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 15 Jun 2009 @ 7:56



I could put something funny here but I cant be arsed. Now GO AWAY!

1015.6.2009 12:19

Nope, had this baby set up about 9 months ago. When I wasn't receiving anything the installer made a few phone calls and was assured it will be fine when all stations go 100%. When the switchover happened we tested everything, tried several different antennas, amps, etc. still no dice. Meanwhile a sweep was conducted and come to find out our entire neighborhood is in a "dead" area (I'm not the only person having the problem) with the exception of the one station (a Spanish station of all things)we're currently getting because I'm told of the "unusual" placement of the transmitter. I also received a call this morning from the tech who installed it, and there's really nothing that can be done. I also spoke with someone with the city who said there's a "chance" a repeater may be installed to hit our area, but that won't be really TALKED about until 2011 at the EARLIEST (I was pleasant and professional but her tone had about as much sympathy as you could hold in a gnat's shotglass)! I asked since this is a problem, does the city or government have any plans to offer any type of government subsidizing for at least basic cable for local channels, so some of us can have access to emergency broadcasts, local news, etc. and the and was is no. Well I guess I wasn't meant for TV, not that I'm missing anything anyways. Thank goodness for the internet and Netflix!

1116.6.2009 6:35

progrockt, I live near the bottom of a large hill (dead zone for everything except radio). We just use cable.

1218.6.2009 8:15
moscovaa
Inactive

It is good that we got the coupons for the boxes, but one thing the government did not think obout is the antenna. The guy that had the tv working with just a paper clip is very lucky because the picture on my tv goes in and out and probably I need a special antenna (omnidirectional). Don't you think that they should have also given a coupon to be used toward the purchase of digital antenna? Even if you have an antenna on the roof you may need a rotor which you did not need before.

1318.6.2009 9:18
theridges
Inactive

Yea I do sound like I'm a lucky one probably has to do with me living in the city and only about 10 to 12 miles from the stations thing is I don't really watch tv other than sports so its not even a big deal to me.


@keith
Thanks for that great comment and all your insight

1418.6.2009 9:42

According to http://tvfool.com/ the nearest transmitter to me is a hair over 45 miles. I built a DB4 type antenna (plenty of plans on the net for these). The most expensive part are the mesh reflectors behind the elements (I used 2 stove exhaust aluminum mesh filters...cost ~$20 for both...the rest of the materials cost me ~$10). So far it's made channels mostly watchable. Right now it's just sitting in my computer room upstairs, but I have plans to move it to the attic. Cost for a commercial DB4 antenna was ~$60+shipping. I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on a commercial antenna until I was at least somewhat sure I would be able to get signals. The indoor DTV antennas are useless unless you live probably less than 10 miles from a transmitter (or less). For proper reception you need to put the antenna as high up as possible and aimed at the transmitters. Omnidirectional antennas have less range than directional antennas. If you live far away you should look at a DB4 or a DB8 (a DB8 is just a doubled up DB4).

All that being said...my signal breaks up all the time on most channels that I can get. And I only get around 25 channels...75% of which are religious programming or spanish.

We really need more repeaters now to serve these areas. The TV stations have done an extremely poor job doing anything except upgrading their existing equipment to broadcast the new signal. They've had how long? A couple of years of planning? It's pathetic.

1518.6.2009 10:14

Originally posted by BobL:
What I find funny is that people have had AT LEAST a full year to get their converter boxes, set them up, try them out, and work out any kinks... But the day the signals are cut off, they can find the FCC phone number to complain very quickly. Doesn't take them long to complain, but when action is required on their part to do something productive, they'll sit on their butts and put it off until the last minute.
How true some will never be ready but are the first to complain.

I'm 60+ miles away in a hole but with a good antenna I get almost every channel offered in my area and if I rotate the antenna for the channels I don't get they will come in. I was good and tested over two years ago and have been aware of the issues for much longer then that since this has been known for over a decade. I do feel for those that can't get, no matter what, the new DTV transmition but not many people are in that group and they should have other options in most cases.

Digital is much better and this was a smart move even though it drug out way too long. We should have made the transition in 2007.

1618.6.2009 16:40

DTV blows...I used to get every channel just fine. Now I can only get about 75% of what I used to. With all the money I've spent on antennas, converter boxes, wires, splitters, pre-amps and fruitless hours going up and down ladders to adjust said antenna I could've got cable for the next two years! But I can't, because now I'm poor! So, I guess I'll just sit here drinking cheap beer, watching my tv stutter and pixelate wondering why I'm paying more taxes to research new and exciting ways for the government to screw me!

1718.6.2009 17:12

The only real winners out of the digital transfer were the cable companies, the antenna manufacturers, and the people who get to buy all that great new bandwidth now that analog is gone. Analog worked just fine. Now, I get only 2 stations, and they barely come in at that. If it rains, no signal comes in at all.

1818.6.2009 20:56

I had the digital converter boxes setup but the signal still remains a problem at times. One day everything is fine, the next day, all I have to do is move, and there goes the signal (without touching the antenna).

Also, while a lot of you have moved on to paying cable/satelite providers to record programs, I still record using a VCR. I finally figured out how to do that through the converter box, but boy oh boy it sure has been a learning lesson in terms of the problems the converter box causes. Goodbye to watching one program and recording another at the same time. Now the VCR only records whatever the channel the converter box is set to. Also, something I wasn't aware of when I bought the converter box is that the box powers down after eight hours. So unless you're home to turn on the box in the morning or later in the day, you won't be able to record anything after the box shuts itself off in eight hours. All the marketing of this garbage.

I had a good picture before -- didn't need the extra channels. This was a total boondoggle for the cable/satelite/antenna providers (and the politicians that invested in those companies).

1918.6.2009 21:01

Oh yeah I forgot to mention that I've lost the TV from my Media Center PC. (Yes Dell saddled me with a crummy tuner card in 2005-EMUZED ANGEL)and I wasn't wise enough to realize that at the time). Any suggestions what I need to do about that or what people think are good/reliable tuner cards today?

2020.6.2009 5:45

How come there are so many problems with digital tv in the usa, in australia we have had any. may be just to many with operating errors, typical americans.

211.7.2009 9:52

The short answer is that, at least in my area, there are not enough transmitters. Now...I do live about 30mi north of downtown Houston, but there are no transmitters on the north side of town. Nearest transmitter is one about 15mi south of downtown Houston. I'm at the very fringe of what a DTV antenna can receive. The next plan needs to be to force the TV stations to build more transmitters.

If this was the UK or Australia where people are packed in closer, the effective 50 mile range of these transmitters would be fine. I also don't know how flat the UK and Australia is compared to the US. Australia looks pretty flat. Good signal requires good line of sight to the transmitter.

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