Channel Challenge


I think I have found a mistake in the National Telecommunications & Information Association's DTV converter box subsidy proposal.

Not being a tech-head, I could be wrong, but I talked to a tech-head who agrees with me, so on the strength of that, and absent a call-back from the NTIA, I proceed.

In an online copy of the subsidy proposal, the NTIA said it plans to make the converter boxes tunable to "all TV channels 2-69."

Problem is, the TV channels, which currently extend through 69, will stop at 52 with the switch to digital, since channels 53-69 are being reclaimed and auctioned for billions of dollars for use by advanced wireless services.

There is some question as to whether analog translators above ch. 52 will still be operating post-transition, since neither translators nor low power stations are being held to the same February 2009 deadline, but that wouldn't appear to matter anyway since this is a digital-to-analog converter and wouldn't pick up the analog signals.

NTIA had not returned a call at press time, but I tried to catch them before the NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) was printed in the Federal Register, figuring that the administration's top spectrum policy adviser would not want to be on the record not knowing where the TV band ended or began after the transition to DTV. Sadly, I failed, and there it now is in black and white. Unless I was wrong, in which case it isn't sadly.

By John Eggerton