This is switch-over week for America. On Friday June 12th all analogue TV broadcast signals are to be switched off. The big event has already been postponed once. It was supposed to happen in February but the government got cold feet.
Governments around the world will be watching to see the reaction when the US analogue signal is pulled. If all goes smoothly, it will be a massive incentive to bring forward the analogue switch-off in other countries.
Many governments relish the prospect of selling the freed-up spectrum to the mobile telecoms industry. While, for the semiconductor industry, the good thing is that digital TVs use a heck of a lot more ICs than analogue TVs.
However, governments don’t want to upset voters. Even with the postponement in America, and with the issuing of $40 vouchers, costing $2.2 billion, to help people buy digital TVs or set-top-boxes, it is estimated that three million Americans are still using pain old, unaided, analogue TV sets this week.
They could get pretty mad when the signal is switched off.
The thing is, a lot of people don’t seem top get the message. The FCC is said to have spent $75 million this year trying to get the message across; it has a 4,000 person call centre to answer queries about the switch; and paid for a free in-home installation service for set-top-box purchasers.
The UK seems to have gone for a creeping switch-over happening between now and 2012. Japan has pencilled in July 24th 2011.
But if America pulls off a hassle-free switch-off on Friday, then they, and other governments, will probably look to accelerate the process.