Wilmington, N.C.: The Future is Now
While most of us have until February 2009 for the digital switch, for Wilmington, North Carolina, the switch is happening now! Well, next Monday, to be exact.
In a test by the FCC and local broadcasters, Wilmington stations will begin broadcasting solely digital signals five months ahead of schedule. Folks in that area who haven't upgraded their homes and rely on over-the-air broadcasts will be out of luck. No TV for you.
Of course, cable and satellite subscribers don't need to worry; your providers will handle the conversion for you.
Wilmington, NC was a good choice for this test. While about 15 percent of U.S. households rely on over-the-air broadcasts, only 7 percent, about 12,600 homes, in Wilmington will be affected. The test isn't so much about the technology, but more about if the ad campaigns warning about the switch are effective.
Wilmington is an interesting choice. It's in an area that frequently has hurricanes. Residents were concerned that their battery-powered portable (analog) TVs will be useless in an emergency situation. Battery-powered converter boxes can be purchased for this situation. Whew!
So you're not caught unprepared, remember to order your coupon for a converter box before they pull the plug in your area. Hurry! -Leslie Shapiro
Update: They pulled the plug, and analog TV in Wilmington died September 8th at 12:00pm. May it rest in peace. The switch to digital has been successful so far, although some viewers were still trying to tune in with their analog sets. Let's hope the transition goes as smoothly for the rest of the country.