The Next Digital Divide

The digital divide has been used to describe a situation of the “haves” and “have nots” of internet access. The digital divide was a real concern in the early years of commercial internet, but as prices have fallen for both PCs and internet access, the percentage of Americans with home internet access has surpassed 80%. But, there is another digital divide looming. It will occur with our televisions.

Congress has mandated that all television signals be broadcast in digital format by January, 2009. The transition from analog to digital signals will improve the viewing experience and free up broadcast spectrum space. Manufacturers have been producing models that comply with the new regulations. Making new televisions to support digital signals accomodates the change to digital, but what about the millions of analog TVs in homes across the country? A major concern is how certain vulnerable populations, namely low income and senior households, will be affected by the change. A program will be available that will allow households to request 2-$40 vouchers to help offset cost of boxes needed to handle digital transmissions. However, the vouchers will be issued on a first come, first served basis.

Most people have no idea of the impending change, so they won’t know they need to purchase boxes that will enable them to continue to use their analog TVs. A massive information campaign must be launched, but who will take the lead- Manufacturers? Industry groups? Government agencies? Apparently, a thorough plan for implementing the digital initiative among households with analog TVs has not been developed. In particular, there has been little consideration for those who can least afford additional investments in digital equipment. Link

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Author: Don Roy

Marketing educator, blogger, & consultant- Having fun with all of the above!

2 thoughts on “The Next Digital Divide”

  1. I disagree with the decision to digitally broadcast television signals. This will only create new problems. My family happens to have a ‘big dish’ satellite, which has been a nightmare lately. Over half of the channels carried by the big dish companies have already went digital. Just to pick up those channels (that we were already paying for) we had to buy a $400 digital receiver box. Now we have discovered that, since the big dish is considered outdated, we will not be able to get some of the digital channes anymore. It’s ridiculuous. Also, we live in between two very large hills, so our digital quality isn’t always very good, there’s alot of interference. A family member of mine has the digital dish network, and every time it rains/storms you see a pixilated screen or sometimes the picture will completely disappear for several seconds. At least with analog you still have a picture, it may have static, but it’s still there. This will be a great hassel to the older community. The ones that just have an antenna will either be forced to pay alot of money for a receiver box, or go with out television, and rely on radio for news and weather. Since Congress has mandated that all television signals be digital, then they should provide everyone with the necessary equipment to receive the digital signals.

  2. Wow! This is going to be a big change, especially to those that own analog TVs, including me. i hate this idea and strongly disagree with it because most people will not be able to afford this or will not want to pay for this. Plus most people do not like change and this will be a big transition

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