Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On the eve of digital television

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Hawaii DTV Transition Project presented state lawmakers with their “Countdown to January 15, 2009”, the date when Hawaii becomes the first state in the nation to make the switch to an all digital transmission for television signals. That's tomorrow! The national transition date is February 17, 2009.

As Hawaii is the first state, all eyes will be on the transition experience in the islands. As such, no other market is getting such a high level of FCC attention and support. According to the FCC, here is what they are focusing on during the final nine days prior to the transition:

· In-home technical support begins. Continued training of assistance teams.
· Call center expansion as of yesterday. Ten phone lines active.
· Movement of people/attention to Maui, Molokai, and Big Island.
· Multiple consumer assistance clinics daily.
· Blast media messages aggressively.

Mr. Lyle Ishida, FCC Hawaii DTV Transition Manager said today that the FCC has conducted over 200 events, visits and training sessions in Hawaii. They have established a call center, issued 50,206 coupons for converter boxes (12,205 have been redeemed), awarded four microgrant contracts (with four to go), and have established partnerships with all broadcast television stations in the state.

The FCC emphasized that there will be some signal pattern changes due to the fact that some broadcast towers have been moved on Maui and Oahu. This will affect mostly Eastern Molokai, north Hawaii and Hamakua coast, and central Oahu. The signal testing on Oahu is completed. Testing will begin soon on Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the Big Island. The signal pattern changes are part of a strategic effort to push consumers through the transition early.

The pre-and-post transit consumer clinics are scheduled and designed to maintain thorough communication with Hawaii residents. For more information, Mr. Ishida outlined several additional resources for Hawaii consumers:

Telephone: 541-2388

Regarding the availability of coupons, the federal government offers up to two coupons per household for discounts on the purchase of converter boxes (between $48-70) that will be required for television sets receiving TV over the air. Coupons and further information may be obtained by calling 1-888-DTV-2009 or online at

In addition, especially on the neighbor islands, the FCC Transition Team is asking clubs, organizations, teams etc. to go out into the community and help with setting up TVs for anyone that needs the assistance. They will need to attend a training class. Call 541-2388 for more info. Testing on the neighbor islands began on Jan 9th.

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