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Front Page » March 18, 2008 » Tech Tips » Digital Television Brings Change to TV, Cell Phones
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Digital Television Brings Change to TV, Cell Phones


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By JASON BAILEY
Sun Advocate/Emery County Progress

By this time, most people are aware that the federal government has mandated the death of analog television signals by 2009. But most residents don't realize why the push is being made, nor do they realize that cell phones are also a part of this picture.

Everyone has heard from the various newspaper, radio and television commercials that enhanced quality is a major part of the push to digital television. That's true. But there's more to it than that.

The fact is, the air-waves are so full and busy, there isn't much room for much more.

In reality, the wireless communications spectrum that we collectively label as "air-waves" is divided into separate pieces - each of which are allocated to a certain technology.

For example, a specific range of this spectrum is set aside and dedicated to television broadcasting. Another range is dedicated to FM radio. And still, and other range is dedicated to wireless networking like IEEE 802.11g ("wireless g").

The problem is, the range dedicated for television isn't all that roomy anymore. There isn't as much "broadcast space" as there used to be.

The reason the Federal Communications Commission is in favor of digital television is that the television industry can provide far more stations within that same broadcast range than they could with analog signals.

An answer as to why this happens entails a long winded answer, but it basically boils down to how the digital information is encoded.

Digital broadcasts utilize less "space" in the television broadcast range than analog television broadcasts do, which means public television towers can offer its viewers more television channels than they could before.

But the switch to digital doesn't stop with television.

There is also a push to retire analog cell phones as well. This may not seem like a problem up front, as virtually every cell phone on the market is already operating on a digital frequency.

But the problem is, many cell phones fall back to analog frequency ranges when they are out of digital range from cellular service areas.

This is because analog signals carry farther than digital signals do. Digital signals have a tendency to degrade over long distances (generally more than 8-10 miles).

While a ban on analog cell phone frequencies would help the digital cellular market grow, it would have a negative impact on people in rural areas who use their cell phones in highly remote places, like some desert regions or mountainous areas.

Have comments about this article or suggestions for a future Tech Tips article? Send an e-mail to webmaster@ecprogress.com.


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