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DTC: Plenty of DTV converter boxes left

Posted: 20 Jan 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:analogue to digital  television broadcast  converter boxes 

If the transition from analogue to digital television broadcast doesn't happen as scheduled, it won't be for lack of digital-to-analogue converter boxes, according to market research firm Digital Tech Consulting (DTC).

According to DTC's research, retailers and manufacturers have shipped an estimated 3.35 crore digital-to-analogue converter boxes into the U.S. marketplace, and approximately 90 lakh boxes are still available for customers who have waited until the last minute to make a purchase.

The transition has been scheduled since Congress mandated it in 2006. But with a month left to go, several people—including U.S. President-elect Barack Obama and members of the Federal Communications Commission—are advocating for the switch to be pushed back. The U.S. government said early this month that it had run out of Rs.2,001.46 ($40) discount coupons for consumers to help pay for the converter boxes, and some fear that many viewers are unaware of, and unprepared for, the switch.

Myra Moore, principal at DTC said the availability of coupons is a separate issue. But, she said, manufacturers and retailers have held up their end of the bargain, ensuring the equipment was available to support the switch.

After some shortages in the first quarter of 2008, when only 13 lakh converter boxes were sold, retailers made some changes to their supplier roster, Moore said. As a result, shipments of converter boxes increased by 49 per cent in the second quarter, another 64 per cent in the third quarter and nearly 100 per cent in the fourth quarter, according to Moore.

"While the Congress works out the last-minute issues surrounding the waiting list for government coupons, the NTIA [National Telecommunications and Information Administration] program has resulted in sales of nearly 20 million (2 crore) coupon-eligible converter boxes," Moore said. "And our research shows that as many as four million (40 lakh) additional boxes have been sold to consumers without coupons."

Moore said the market for the converter boxes has been even stronger than DTC's original forecast of 3 crore units, which some said was too generous. She noted that the coupon program has obviously help boost sales.

DTC's findings are the result of analysis of government data, interviews with converter box manufacturers and component suppliers and discussions with major retailers, the firm said.

-Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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