Why We’re Switching to Digital TV

In case you were wondering about why analog televisions broadcasts are scheduled to end next February, I can give you nearly 20 billion reasons. By switching to digital broadcasts, large segments of the radio frequency spectrum will be freed up for other uses. And on Tuesday, the FCC concluded auctions that sold off the licenses for much of this spectrum to companies.

The sales were originally projected to bring in about $10 billion, but when the dust settled, the final total was nearly double that. According to reports by the Associated Press, Verizon was responsible for nearly half of the total, buying the nationwide “C” block of licenses. AT&T ponied up nearly three quarters of the remaining bids for 227 licenses in the “B” block.

Where does the money go? A portion was set aside by Congress to pay for the $40 digital adapter rebate coupon program, which is expected to cost up to $1.5 billion for the distribution of upt to 33.5 million coupons. The balance of the proceeds will be put in the federal government’s general fund.