On September 7, 1927, 19-year-old Philo T. Farnsworth created the first television system that could not only display, but transmit signals between separate rooms. Now, more than 80 years later, another historic date in broadcast transmissions is upon us.
On February 17, 2009, all full-power broadcast television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting on analog airwaves and begin broadcasting only in digital.
“Congress enacted this as part of the Digital Television Act of 2005 and it was signed into law in 2006,” says Robert McDowell, the commissioner of the Federal Communications Commis-sion (FCC). “Part of the rationale is that it’s more efficient to use digital technologies and they take up less of the spectrum than analog technologies.”
What this means is that any viewers who rely on antennas or "rabbit ears" to watch television will no longer get a broadcast signal unless they get a converter box. While it may seem crazy to some that people still watch TV theold fashioned way and haven’t made the switch to cable, not everyone can afford it or need that many channels. The expiring analog channels in most cases allowed for up to 21 channels, including all the major networks.
But before you start panicking that you won’t be able to watch your favorite shows come February sweeps time, don’t fret. Condos, co-ops and homeowner associations throughout New England have already begun preparing for the changeover and every building should have all the equipment necessary to receive digital broadcasts by the time next February rolls around.