AfterDawn: Tech news

Engineers dispute FCC estimates for DTV signal strength

Written by Rich Fiscus @ 11 Feb 2008 1:38 User comments (9)

Engineers dispute FCC estimates for DTV signal strength With preparations for the DTV (Digital Television) cutover in the U.S. gaining momentum, many people have already questioned the government's preparedness. Now it appears that at least one of the preparations that has been made is even in question. The FCC may be greatly overestimating the effective range of DTV broadcasts. If that's true there may be millions of Americans who are unable to receive the same selection of channels they're currently getting via analog broadcast.
The issue is signal degradation. One major advantage of DTV is that the quality is relatively even for everyone who recieves a particular broadcast. The reason for this is that, unlike analog broadcasts, when a digital signal degrades to the point where analog image or sound quality would suffer it simply drops out completely. Rather than getting a lower quality picture you get none at all.

While FCC officials believe most viewers will be able to receive the same channels digitally that they do now, a study from a market research firm in Los Angeles called Centris casts doubt on those claims. According to the Centris study, which claims to be based on a more detailed model than the federal government has been using, the government figures are overly optimistic. Centris claims that nearly 6 million households will need outdoor antennas to keep receiving the same selection of channels they're currently getting.

If that weren't bad enough, according to the consultant hired to replace the antennas on the Empire State Building real world signal measurements paint an even more pessimistic picture. A study of the first HDTV station by Oded Bendov found that digital signals did not travel as far as either model had predicted. “For the people with rabbit-ear antennas, I would say at least 50 percent won’t get the channels they were getting,” Dr. Bendov said. “I would say a lot of people are going to be very unhappy.”

With analog signals scheduled to be shut off a year from now, it appears that U.S. consumers may get to pay the price for the FCC's lack of real planning.

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9 user comments

111.2.2008 14:15

Digital tv is the future! It just happens to include giant aluminum antennas tethered to the top of your house…

211.2.2008 14:36

Actually It's quite simple. More than likely the government already knew this. They just don't care. And are also ignoring it. Just to force people to pay for cable/dish. More than likely it's the latter because most people that live in a municipality have cable already.

That really sucks for people like me because I'm not paying over inflated prices for DirectTV/Dish Network. I just don't see the point in having hundreds of channels that are never going to get watched. Just to have the few channels that I do watch. I live in rural Ohio approximately fifty miles between two cities with over the air broadcasts. The channels that I do get now are somewhat fuzzy at times. Even with an outside antenna and two signal boosters. So at this time next year. I'll be a few days away from no TV at all. Unless I decide to get some kind of dish. Of course I could just get the fastest DSL I can get out here. (no cable for me and many others) And watch most primetime shows online and still download the pay TV/cable shows via bitTorrent like I have been for the past couple of years. I know it's "illegal". I REALLY DON'T CARE! I believe as do many others that it is idiotic to have hundreds of channels that are never going to get watched. So I don't pay at all. (well except for the monthly internet fee) I may have to wait an extra day to watch my favorite shows. But I'd rather wait a day than pay too much.

Any way you look at it. If I can't get the stations over the air next year. One way or another I will get to watch the shows I like.

311.2.2008 15:13

I found another DTV transition discussion on the SciFi channels site someone might find some interest in.

411.2.2008 15:54

Consumer Reports and have a great information site on DTV.

And they set up a way to share your experience with the transition to digital television.

Consumer Reports site with all the info:

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 11 Feb 2008 @ 3:55

511.2.2008 16:10

It's actually hard to lock in digital channels and i'm only 7 miles from the antenna farm for oklahoma city. The radio shack manager in Norman (20 miles away) said they cant get a lock on ch 5-1 with a roof antenna. I agree some people will lose local air channels unless they pump up the wattage at the tv tower.. Or you put a antenna on a tower to pull in the signal.

611.2.2008 17:02

Originally posted by Rustbuket:
.. Or you put a antenna on a tower to pull in the signal.
I heard one time, that in upscale neighbourhoods (the ones with snooty Homeowners' Associations), the HOA cannot prevent a person from putting up an antenna or a satellite dish outside their house. That's FCC regulations. I am going to be so ROTFLMAO when these fancy houses start sporting outdoor antennas.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 11 Feb 2008 @ 5:02

711.2.2008 17:13

thats there problim to much wattage and that the spectrume band is way up there.

they need to krank down the power also the Waves that the new signal send out was meant to be Focused.

Omni-directional Range has always been Digital Signals worse nightmare.

87.4.2008 06:06

We are going to see a lot of these ups and downs in the transition its only the star we will just have to waitand see what happens when it all settles

915.10.2008 11:12

I received one channel on analog tv, as I live in the mountains at about 30 miles from the sending translator. Now, with digital, I can't receive any channels most of the time, but occasionally I can get the same channel I had before. What makes the difference in whether I receive it or not? I thought it was better in the dark hours, but that doesn't seem to be so. Any suggestions? I have both rabbit ears and a rooftop antenna. Marjorie

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