Are you ready for The Big Switch? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Are you ready for The Big Switch?

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April 16, 2008

Albany -- For the past four decades, Ernest Kennedy has worked in the satellite and TV installation business. During this time, he's witnessed a lot of change.

He said, "We've gone through a lot of stages from the big huge dishes you used to see out in people yards, now, to the small, 18-inch dishes that you see stuck on a lot of houses. So we've transitioned from old systems all the way up to the new era."

But according to Kennedy, who owns and operates Kennedy Satellite and TV in Dawson, the biggest change he's witnessed so far comes via the Big Switch.

"I've had people come in here off and on and ask questions. I think the problem with the consumer is they don't quite understand what's happening yet. We've got the commercials on TV, and the commercials give you a surface knowledge. But still, we've got people coming in here everyday," he said.

A number of Kennedy's customers live in rural parts of Terrell County, and still use analog television - best known as the set that uses "rabbit ears" to pick up reception. But come February 17, 2009, unless the set is equipped with a digital converter box, analog TV sets that use antennas won't work.

"People are still wondering who's going to service it, who's going to install it, where there going to get them at. And you do have to be certified to do it. So there's going to be a lot of people out there looking for people to sell these boxes and absorb the coupons," said Kennedy.

At Circuit City in Albany many customers are already using the converter box coupons offered through The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

"Definitely seeing a lot of coupons coming in. In fact, the last day I worked, I came across five. So I mean, it's a continuous thing," said Circuit City Sales Representative Trent Nolan.

And while word of the Big Switch is spreading, many consumers are getting a head start in preparation for the February 17th switch date.

"Currently, we have 12 in stock. But we normally keep about that amount in stock. Once we sell a couple, they just replenish. So I'm guessing closer to that date, we'll get more and more in stock."

If you are a cable or satellite customer, you won't be affected by the Big Switch. But if you don't get local channels and you require an antennae to receive those signals, then you'll still need to get the converter box.

For information on the TV convertor box coupon click here.

To get detailed information on the The Big Switch and Q&A videos click here. 

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