Policy and Practice in the Americas, Europe and Japan
Edited by Martin Cave and Kiyoshi Nakamura
2. The DTV transition in the US Evan Kwerel and Jonathan Levy1 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND All communications, whether video, voice, data, wired, or wireless, are going digital. This chapter focuses on the transition to digital television on three platforms: terrestrial broadcasting, cable and satellite, with particular attention to terrestrial broadcasting in the United States. Digital television, regardless of the platform, provides more and better services for consumers, including HDTV. The digital migration of television also promotes inter-modal competition. Without the transition from analog to digital it is questionable whether terrestrial broadcast television could survive as a viable competitor with cable and direct broadcast satellite (DBS). The digital transition of terrestrial broadcast TV has an additional beneﬁt not associated with the two other platforms. Phasing out analog television broadcasting will facilitate more eﬃcient use of the spectrum. Using digital technology allows for much greater output with less spectrum input, freeing up spectrum for other potentially more valuable uses. Those uses are likely to be next generation mobile, including mobile data and video. If a country goes through the transition to digital broadcast television without freeing up spectrum for other uses, it has lost a major beneﬁt of this transition. The digital television (DTV)2 transition in the US will clear 108 MHz of spectrum for other valuable uses. Pursuant to the 1997 Balanced Budget Act (BBA), the FCC reallocated 108 MHz (channels 52–69) of the 402 MHz that had been allocated to terrestrial television broadcasting, leaving 294...
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