So what's the 'Big Switch' all about? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

So what's the 'Big Switch' all about?

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February 18, 2008

Lee County --  The Big Switch will happen one year from now. Are you ready?

Starting February 17th, 2009, old analog televisions that use antennas will not work, unless you get one of the new converter boxes to bring you into the Digital TV age.

Carol Rathel's Television is her main source of information for keeping up with the latest weather developments. "I have kids and horses, and have to keep up with any developing storms," Rathel said.

Rathel uses an analog TV with an antenna, and she knows she will have to get ready for the Big Switch. "I don't have any clue how to."

The federal government ordered the switch to digital, a more flexible and efficient technology that offers dramatically better quality transmission.

Shermaze Ingram of the National Association of Broadcasters said "Anyone out there that does not have a digital set will have to upgrade. Otherwise, they won't get a picture," if they get their signal over-the-air.

The good news for the nearly 20 million households that receive over the air television signals, the switch to digital is pretty simple. All you have to do is get a converter box that hooks to your TV.
To get your converter, you first sign up to receive a forty dollar coupon from the federal government that will cut the price down to ten or twenty dollars each. Each household can get two of the forty dollar coupons.

U. S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said "We've already received requests from half a million households."

The converter boxes will soon be for sale in most stores where you can buy televisions. But all the stores we contacted in Albany said they do not have them in stock yet.

Many people will not have to do anything. If you bought a new television for Christmas, you won't need the converter, it's only needed for TV's that are several years old and don't have a digital tuner.

If you subscribe to a cable or satellite service you don't have to change anything; those companies will convert the digital for you. It's just for people who get their signal over the air.

But it's time to get started going digital, because one year from now if you haven't made the switch, your old analog signal will go black.