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Digital Broadcasting

Policy and Practice in the Americas, Europe and Japan

Edited by Martin Cave and Kiyoshi Nakamura

Digital television is transforming both broadcasting and, as a result of convergence, the larger world of communications. The impending analogue switch-off will have a major impact on households all over the developed world. Digital Broadcasting considers the effects of digital television on the availability, price and nature of broadcast services in the Americas, Europe and Japan. It shows how this depends upon what platforms – cable, satellite, fixed or wireless broadband – countries have available for use and also upon government policies and regulatory interventions.
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Chapter 2: The DTV Transition in the US

Evan Kwerel and Jonathan Levy


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 MHz for TV. Twenty-four MHz of the...

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