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25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
A series of posts describing how this all came about. (Click on picture above)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Post DTV Transition Issues:
NCTA: "Once more - there
are two (DTV) transitions"

Here's a quote from an NCTA-related website:

"If you are a cable customer, you may have to do little or nothing to enjoy your favorite programming after the switch to digital TV (DTV). Your cable provider will take care of the transition for you!"
Similar quotes can be found on FCC sites. These quotes are true for many homes, perhaps even most homes. It is true if your focus is high end cable customers with set top boxes. However, among the elderly and economically disadvantaged there are a lot of people with analog TVs connected directly to cable without a set top box. with analog TV, both NAB members and the cable systems used NTSC.

However, a fact not well known outside the policy wonk community is that the usual format for signals in cables systems is becoming 64-QAM, not the over-the-air 8-VSB and the famous NTIA-subsidized boxes only handle 8-VSB per Congressional guidance. The impact of this will be that basic tier cable signals that have traditionally been free and receivable without a set top box will move to 64-QAM in the next few months and out of the reach of the most vulnerable subscribers. So if they have been used to CSPAN, CNN, ESPN, etc. they are in for a rude shock. And who will they blame? Probably not your blogger.

The big cable providers have been delaying this switch for a few months by consensus brokered within NCTA. But this will not last forever.

While the FCC still has its public communications media in high gear would be a good time to prepare the public for "the second shoe to drop". The change is very reasonable and will have many advantages for many people. But if vulnerable people are caught by surprise it will not be a good beginning for the new FCC team which carefully waited out the DTV transition.

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