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Analog vs. Digital: What in God's Creation is Analog? And Why do We Need Digital?

Aug 13, 2008
The U.S. broadcast system is embarking on a transition that is the result of technological advancements. It will make better use of resources most importantly our broadband spectrum and enhance the quality of our broadcasting. Although complicated at a glance, the transition has been a progression over a number of years and will leave no one in a compromising position!

Analog televisions send signals which tell the TV's electron gun how to portray lines on the screen. Unfortunately, this signal degrades during transmission. Analog signals are affected by changes in physical phenomena, for example, temperature, position, pressure, sound and light. This lessons the amount of fine detail in the image. Digital televisions use bit streams, lines of data consisting of ones and zeros, to send this same information. Digital signals do not degrade, therefore the picture is much better on a digital television set. They do have limitations in resolution and bandwidth similar to Analog. It is difficult to detect when degradation occurs in an analog signal but a digital systems' degradation can not only be detected but repaired.

This knowledge enables us to immediately choose the television which will yield the better picture with all things being equal. However, the source signal also needs to be considered. As sources go, Analog is good, Analog cable is better and Digital cable/Digital satellite is best. According to an article titled TV Buying Guide by Robert Valdes, "a DVD will look better on a low-end television than an analog broadcast antenna signal will look on a high-end HDTV. That is because the quality of the digital signal sent to the analog set is far superior to the analog signal sent to the digital HDTV."

In response to technological advances in digital programming, we are seeing a complete transition from Analog to Digital. This transition has been a long time coming! In 1996 U.S. Congress authorized an additional broadcast channel to each broadcast TV station so they could simultaneously broadcast analog and digital. U.S. Congress later announced that February 17, 2009 would be the last day for full power television stations to broadcast in analog. In 2006, all new televisions which were 25" or larger were required to be DTV ready. The requirement was then expanded in March 2007 to include all new televisions 13" or larger.

The switch to solely Digital broadcasting will free up significant portions of our valuable broadcast spectrums. This can be used for public safety communications as well as auctioned to companies who provide wireless services etc. This transition will also allow a broadcaster to offer super sharp high definition programming or multiple standard definition programs through a process referred to as multicasting. Multicasting allows a broadcaster to offer several channels of digital programming at the same time using the same amount of spectrum required for one analog program.

Analogue sets will need to employ the use of a Digital-to-Analog converter box after February 17, 2009. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is offering coupons for converter boxes which are valued at 40 dollars, limited to 2 per household. The cost of the converter boxes are estimated between 40 and 70 dollars. Furthermore, Digital TV sets are backward compatible which means that existing analogue equipment such as VCRs, DVD players, camcorders and computer game consoles will work on digital TV sets.

The U.S. is embarking on a transition that is the result of technological advancements. As of February 2009, we will make better use of resources most importantly our broadband spectrum and enhance the quality of our broadcasting. The transition has been a progression over a number of years and will leave no one in a compromising position!
About the Author
Educational Computer Software and Games Please visit us at www.TheSoftwareSpot.com ! Thank you, Allison Merlino
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