The End of Analogue TV Broadcasts - A Summary - Read Post 1. - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums

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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 2008-08-19, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
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Exclamation The End of Analogue TV Broadcasts - A Summary - Read Post 1.

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.
http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=41102

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Last edited by 57; 2011-02-15 at 10:09 AM. Reason: Updated
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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 2008-08-19, 01:00 PM
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- The reason for the transition to digital OTA broadcasting is to clear up the frequencies between roughly 700 Mhz to 800 MHz, to make room for future wireless applications (e.g. cell phones, emergency services), and to lower transmission power requirements (approx. 1/6 of the power is required to transmit digital vs. analogue).

- By switching to digital OTA broadcasting, the total number of required channel slots required to carry the same number of stations is reduced.

- Many OTA broadcasters will be assigned to new channel allocations for their digital transmissions. A few will eventually revert to broadcasting digitally on the frequency that they are currently assigned for analogue. Many broadcasters which are currently in the VHF spectrum will be in the UHF spectrum after the transition is complete.

- In Canada, the current plan is to allow some remote lower power stations to remain broadcasting in analogue to ease the financial burden of converting to digital broadcasts. In some special cases in the US, low power stations (LPTV) will not have to convert to digital.
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 2008-08-21, 11:23 AM
 
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Just a clarification here.
1) 'Low-power stations' refers to repeater or translator transmitters, whose program content usually originates from a full-power broadcaster. They're usually located in rural areas. See www.lptvanswers.com for more info.
2) Full-power stations are not 'required' to carry sub-channels, it's merely a provision in the digital broadcast standard. The UHF channel bandwidth is still only 6Mhz. The broadcaster will be required to make tradeoffs in picture and sound quality to enable multiple program streams over the same UHF channel.
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 2008-08-21, 01:02 PM
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Question Do new ATSC tuner boxes still have NTSC tuners?

Answer:

Almost all of the new "coupon" boxes are ATSC only, and it is expected that Canadian consumers would just use their remotes to go back and forth between the TV's own NTSC tuner and the new box's ATSC tuner.

On a modern CRT TV with Composite or S-Video inputs a consumer would hook up the ATSC tuner box that way, and then select either the internal NTSC tuner for the Canadian stations or the correct input for the ATSC tuner box.

Post #16 in the OTA Forum Knowledge Base & FAQ deals with this in much more detail.



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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 2008-08-27, 11:36 AM
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Clarifications

Here are some clarifications. I have attached references to back my statements.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 57
- The US has mandated that analogue transmission of television signals will end February 17, 2009 and become digital.
- In the US, all full-power broadcast television stations will stop broadcasting in analogue on February 17, 2009 and will only broadcast in digital. [ref]

Quote:
Originally Posted by 99gecko
In some special cases in the US, low power stations (LPTV) will not have to convert to digital.
- All low-power (a.k.a. LPTV), Class A and translator stations in the US are exempt from the February 17, 2009 analog shutdown. They will be required to convert to digital broadcasting eventually, but the time line and process for this has not been decided. [ref]

Quote:
Originally Posted by stampeder
Almost all of the new "coupon" boxes are ATSC only,
All of the new "coupon" boxes are ATSC only (if it has an NTSC tuner, it would not be eligible for the coupon program), but some may have Analog Signal Pass Through, which allows the NTSC signals passed through to the TV's tuner (typically while the box is off). [ref]
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 2008-08-27, 01:50 PM
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Digital but not HD?

Is there a list anywhere of US stations that are going digital to comply but are not going HD at the same time? From a business standpoint this seems like a questionable move to me.
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 2008-08-27, 05:33 PM
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Clarifications/additional details on US shutdown

- analog ends at 11:59:59pm on Tuesday Feb. 17, 2009 so there will be analog broadcasting on the deadline day. Wed. Feb. 18, 2009 will be the first digital only day.
- US full power broadcasters fall into 3 basic groups:

1) transitional digital broadcast frequency will remain after analog shutdown
2) digital broadcast frequency will revert to former analog frequency immediately after analog shutdown
3) broadcaster has no transitional digital broadcast frequency and will flashcut to digital immediately after analog shutdown

For group 1 channels, when you turn on your tv on Feb. 18 and tune to the OTA digital channel, you won't notice anything different than the day before.

For group 2 and 3 channels, the engineering staff will have a busy Tuesday night with the conversions! For OTA viewers, this will mean manual deleting/adding channels or rescanning on Wednesday to continue watching these channels.

A-D DB4e & CS5, CM 4221 & 7778, TiVo Premiere & Roamio
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 2008-08-27, 05:43 PM
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Quote:
- US full power broadcasters fall into 3 basic groups:

1) transitional digital broadcast frequency will remain after analog shutdown
2) digital broadcast frequency will revert to former analog frequency immediately after analog shutdown
3) broadcaster has no transitional digital broadcast frequency and will flashcut to digital immediately after analog shutdown
Actually, there is a fourth group:
4) transitional frequency, will move to new frequency (often some other channel's former analog frequency) because the transitional frequency is out of band (above 51), and the analog frequency was in the low end of VHF-Lo (2, 3, 4, and for some 5 and 6, although some channel 5 and 6 stations are preferring to revert)

TVl
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 2008-08-28, 01:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Gran Chico
For group 2 and 3 channels, the engineering staff will have a busy Tuesday night with the conversions!
The expectation is that many of those stations will cutover in the days/weeks before the deadline. We have to wait and see.



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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 2008-09-23, 04:50 PM
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Converting a station from analog to digital

Quote:
Originally Posted by reidw View Post
Is there a list anywhere of US stations that are going digital to comply but are not going HD at the same time? From a business standpoint this seems like a questionable move to me.
Sorry, there probably isn't such a list... for one thing, the rate of change is so rapid right now that such a list would become outdated almost immediately.

Speaking from the perspective of a broadcast engineer on the front lines of implementing this switchover at a number of stations, converting a station from analog to digital requires several discrete stages:

1) Installing the essential transmission equipment -- that is, transmitter, encoder, PSIP generator, and possibly a digital studio-to-transmitter microwave link. It is possible to feed the existing analog audio and video into the encoder, and get a legally sufficient DTV signal on the air at this point... but it will be standard definition.

2) Installing rudimentary digital equipment at the studio in order to at least pass network HD programming and upconvert everything else.

3) Installing more complete infrastructure to insert HD commercials or syndicated programming at the local level.

4) Installing HD production equipment to enable live local origination.

By the time you have made it through all four stages, you will have almost completely gutted the station and rebuilt it. Not a trivial project, either technically or financially.

Most smaller market stations will probably be stuck at the first or second stages for some time, gradually taking on syndication and commercial insertion capability over time, until eventually becoming capable of origination. This is generally the most practical method to roll out the technology, both financially and logistically. It's also a close parallel to how we rolled out color back in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

It's a common misconception that DTV will make standard definition go away... most U.S. stations transmitting an HD primary stream will be continuing to carry one or more SD secondaries at the same time for the foreseeable future. For one thing, not all content justifies the bandwidth required for HD... full-time weather graphics channels or community calendars, for instance. In some very small markets only served by one or two stations, it would not be a big surprise to see the station(s) opt to carry more services in standard definition rather than fewer in HD.

Our present bad-mortgage crisis rather aptly illustrates the problem with spending money one doesn't have... so we're being quite careful lately. Happily, come next February we can shut down an awful lot of equipment and start thinking about directing money toward new gear, rather than making the electric meter spin like a manic top...

-- Jeff
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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 2008-10-01, 03:31 PM
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Jeff, Thanks for the great overview of the process of converting a station from analog to digital. One thing that doesn't help the process here in Canada is that the CRTC basically requires that the stations skip step 1 since the digital transitional license requires that they provide the HD or WS version of a program whenever it is available to the broadcaster.
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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old 2008-10-04, 11:33 AM Thread Starter
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Good article from today's Globe (even though she implies in many (but not all) instances that digital = HD):

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servl...tal+revolution (Members only now that it's been a while)

An interesting tidbit about analogue cable, although I have read similar comments before, I'm not sure what the source if this information is:

Quote:
(After 2013 or before, if 85 per cent of the customers are digital, the cable operators will no longer be obliged to carry an analog signal.)
Remember, this is not a discussion thread, it's a "facts" thread. If you wish to discuss, please find a previous thread on the topic you want to discuss, or start a new one referencing the item you wish to discuss.

Here are some more quotes from the Globe article:

Quote:
...estimated 10 per cent of Canadians who rely on over-the-air signals:
Quote:
...One recent study estimated that almost a third of all television viewing in Windsor, Ont., is done over the air

Edit 2010: Interesting development from some (smaller) cable service providers. Even though they are not 85% customer digital, they are switching to an all digital service in some (smaller) areas and are typically providing free STBs (at least one) to customers in the affected area(s). I assume this gets around the 85% requirement...

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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 2008-10-09, 10:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 57 View Post
- In order to receive digital channels OTA, you need a TV with an ATSC tuner, or an ATSC STB.
Don't forget TV tuner cards/USB dongles for computers.
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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 2008-10-10, 12:36 AM
 
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Info on the US Coupon Eligible Converter Boxes (CECB):

• Over 70 different units on the government approved list.
• Retail prices are typically ~$60, with a few lower and a few higher.
• Government supplied coupons have a $40 value, resulting in a net cost of ~$20.
• Each household can apply for two coupons.
• Units only work with Digital TV signals; no analog TV, cable, DBS.
• Units can not have any of the following: Component video, digital audio, output higher than 480i.
• Units must have composite video & L/R stereo audio, RF outputs. S-Video is optional.
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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old 2008-11-16, 03:48 AM
 
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Good info Ken:

Can you also tell me how to apply for the coupons? Who is eligible? Am I?

Or point me to a thread on how to get them? Thanks.
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