It seems, as is often the case when left to bureaucracies, the formats we get stuck with are often too little too late (NY Times/Reuters article, senate approves HDTV delay). When I was in high school the ATSC format was decided upon. Now, here we are in 2009 and our fair nation is still not ready to accept a (now antiquated) digital television format. Lets be honest here, how many people do you know who still use rabbit ears? In New York I know of one other couple, out of all of our friends in the this entire city. Never mind the fact that if they plug into the cable jack on their building they’d have at least basic cable and local channels without the need for an antenna. And most cable companies are going to continue to simulcast analog over their wires until 2011. But the real problem I have with this “delayed switch” is that it’s a waste of bandwidth. The wireless spectrum could do a lot of other things besides only broadcast TV signals.
The solution is Internet Protocol Television (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPTV) . The idea being, why not invest in an infrastructure that is scalable, like high-speed wireless internet (that allows reducing television’s broadcast footprint as compression and technology improve) rather than locking TV down again to a set of frequencies and formats that can only do one thing. Heck, I’ve even heard of people buying stuff over this internet thing. I’m not suggesting doing away with the emergency broadcast service and certainly there should always be AM and FM emergency channels, but honestly is anyone going to fire up their HDTV when the power is out? Are you going to burn precious oil to run your generator and watch your LCD flat panel? Also, it’s unfortunate people have to pay $55 a month for mediocre cellular phone and data services in the US, when something like a “national broadband wireless access system” would allow everyone, everywhere to both watch television and make phone calls over the internet. Think about it. I’m sure it wouldn’t make cell phone companies happy in the short run, but in the long term I’m sure they’d find ways to gouge customers using this “new” technology. The model of a single broadcaster transmitting to the masses is done with. Everyone is a broadcaster now and everyone a watcher.