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February 5, 2018 9:56 am  #1


Does This Big Broadcasting Change Mean You’ll Need A New TV?

There have been a few comments here that have made mention of something called “ATSC 3.0.” It probably doesn’t mean much to most of the public, but it soon could.

Last week, the FCC in the U.S. approved a proposal to allow stations there to begin a slow rollout of ATSC 3.0, (which stands for “Advanced Television Systems Committee”) a new broadcast standard that will eventually mean a big change, especially for those of us with an antenna who watch TV over the air.
 
The new standard comes just a few years after those still on the analogue system were forced to buy a new set (or a special converter) to get signals, after the switch to digital. And now they’re doing this.
 
ATSC 3.0 Rollout Can Begin Next Month
 
So does this mean you’ll have to buy a new TV when the still-distant-conversion happens down there in order to keep getting Buffalo signals up here? Well, yes and no. If you want true 4K TV, you will. If you’re happy with what you have now, you’ll need an external converter.
 
But the point is you’ll likely have to buy something in order to keep what you have now. It’s less clear what might happen on cable or satellite, but rest assured they never miss a chance to figure out how to charge you more for something “new.” It’s not immediately clear if and when Canada will join the fray, but if history is any judge, we’ll eventually jump on the bandwagon several years after the U.S, conversion.
 
I’m far from a technical guy and I’m sure there are a lot of SOWNY-ites who can explain this a lot better than I can. But in addition to whatever added expense may come your way, there’s also the issue of having to connect your TV to your WiFi or Internet to get the full experience - which includes "targeted ads," something I'm extremely uncomfortable with. 
 
At the start of this thing (and stations are free to start experimenting as soon as March) the FCC requires that all of them must maintain their current signals for up to 5 years. After that, I’m guessing they won’t want the expense of having to maintain two signals and will shut the old one off. All this comes as stations on both sides of the border prepare for the major "repack" which will see many of them change to a new channel, forcing OTA viewers to do rescans. 
 
So what does this mean for you? Much of it is explained in a compact article from Digital Trends called “What’s ATSC 3.0? All you need to know about the next era in broadcast TV,” which is linked here.
 
But I have a few questions about this. What happens if you don’t have an Internet connection, as many seniors still don’t? How would that affect your ability to receive your TV signal? And just as importantly, who – besides broadcasters and set manufacturers – actually asked for this? I’m pretty happy with what I have now.  Why do I have to spend yet more money (and potentially more bandwidth) just to watch TV?
 
Coming so soon after the switch to digital, this seems like an unnecessary change. But the question for now isn’t if but when it will happen. And how much you’ll pay for it.
 
If any engineering types who frequent this board want to weigh in on this, I’d appreciate knowing more.

A lot more.