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Nullo's avatar

Can anyone provide a satisfactory answer for why the United States forced its television broadcasters to go digital?

Asked by Nullo (21826 points ) February 21st, 2010

Question pretty much says it all.

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15 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

To obtain more spectrum for telephony and data.

DarkScribe's avatar

They didn’t. Technological evolution did.

poisonedantidote's avatar

If you mean a date when they switch off analog like they have done here in spain and soon in the UK, the main reason is simply because technology advanced. however, the reason it was probably encouraged so much is digital gives you much more potential to drain money from your clients and to have more control over them.

with analog, all they can really ask you to do is phone in and vote. digital will give many more ways of milking us.

lilikoi's avatar

I’ve wondered this myself. Doing so frees up space for other uses like data. But I wonder how they reallocate this extra space. Who gets it?

dpworkin's avatar

They held an auction.

DarkScribe's avatar

It is far more involved than simply “freeing” bandwidth, digital is more robust and subject to less interference, loss of detail, distortion etc.

grumpyfish's avatar

In addition to what others have said, I believe it requires less power to transmit.

nikayamo's avatar

I personally think they just flipped a coin.

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

Many of the reasons given above sound, er… reasonable, but I can’t get away from the thought that they did so just so they could charge everyone more for their existing cable and satellite TV service. It really wouldn’t surprise me if that were the case. One theory that I heard was that it was done so that the police and military would have more frequencies available to them.

Nullo's avatar

@DarkScribe But when the signal falls below a certain quality, you don’t get snow. You get a blank screen.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Nullo But when the signal falls below a certain quality, you don’t get snow. You get a blank screen.

Yes, but if we stick to apples and apples, the transmission loss with digital has to be far greater than with analogue before you lose all data. Digital used handshaking, something that analogue lacks. If a piece of data is lost, with digital, it is sent again. Compare digital phone networks to the old analogue – both using the same towers and locations.

Nullo's avatar

@DarkScribe
These are all apples. Some are green, some are red.
So you’re saying that digital is watchable at the same signal quality that analogue is not?

thriftymaid's avatar

Digital uses much less band width. This freed up much needed space.

misterx's avatar

Okay as most people stated the switch to digital WAS mandated due to the smaller spectrum of radio bandwidth required to transmit. You can transmit about 9 digital tv signals in the spectrum of 1 analog. This freed up alot of space which was then sold of to telecommunications companies… mostly cell phones. This in no way affect cable or satelite television as this was for over-the-air only. Actually, it arguably created more competition for them lowering the prices as higher quality, high definition, stations are now available free of charge. The only down side is the required conversion box, but at some point we need to enter the 21st century and update our technology if we ever hope to continue progressing.

Ron_C's avatar

It is a more efficient way to transmit, allows for more channels, smaller and more efficient televisions, better signal, higher possible resolution. I’m an old television tech and have changed tubes (not just picture tubes) adjusted convergence, all kind of repairs. I would much rather work on a digital circuit than an analog one. Nobody noticed but when they came out with solid state tuners, picture quality and frequency of repairs became much better.

My only complaint is that they waited so long to make the switch.

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