Here's a summary of some facts about the "end of analogue TV": People may feel free to add some additional (brief) facts, however, this is not to become a discussion thread. Discussion posts will be deleted.
- The US
mandated that analogue transmission of television signals ends February 17, 2009 (edit - or perhaps a bit later - June 12, 2009, depending on the channel )
and become digital.
- In Canada
, the timetable for the OTA changeover to digital is August 31, 2011
, over 2 years after the US.
- This directly affects OTA
(over the air) broadcasts only
- It does not
directly affect service providers like Satellite or Cable. Satellite has always been digital anyway, while cable is currently analogue and digital.
- Digital doesn't
necessarily mean HD
. Stations may remain SD if they prefer, however, many stations are switching to HD to remain competitive.
- Although Cable is not directly
affected, many cable companies are reducing the number of channels available in the analogue tier, moving channels to the digital tier. This frees up valuable bandwidth required for the many services that Cable now offers - VOD, PPV, HD channels, etc. Eventually Cable will also be all digital (there is no timetable - but see posts 12, 27, 30 of this thread). You need a digital STB (usually from the service provider or authorized distributor) to receive digital cable.
- Although some TVs are equipped with a QAM tuner, most cable companies encrypt all/most digital channels so the QAM tuner is essentially useless in Canada. In the US, cable companies often provide some (a select few OTA) local channels unencrypted.
- Cable companies will continue to offer "basic" cable as an analogue service for the time being. The US channels that are changing to digital, will be converted to analogue by the cable company for the basic analogue service, for as long as this analogue service remains.
- In order to receive digital channels OTA, you need a TV with an ATSC tuner, or an ATSC STB, or a computer card/dongle. Once OTA is digital, you won't be able to receive any OTA using an NTSC (analogue) tuner. The OTA STBs are inexpensive (under $100) and in the US there was a compensation programme available to pay for some of this cost. Something similar may come to Canada (so far not).
For more information on OTA, see the OTA Knowledge Base.