updated 03:15 pm EST, Thu February 7, 2008
Best Buy digital converter
Big-box retailer Best Buy will soon join a special discount plan, meant to help push Americans over from analog TV to digital. Beginning February 17th, the company will start selling selling an Insignia-branded digital-to-analog converter box, eligible for a coupon program initiated by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). This will cut the price of the converter by $40, making it a more reasonable $20.
The start of the converter sale precedes, by exactly one year, the total shutdown of over-the-air analog broadcasts in the United States. The move is intended partly to standardize digital technology, but also to open up the 700MHz broadcast spectrum, which may be extremely useful to wireless communication businesses due to long range and high penetration. A bandwidth auction is currently underway via the FCC, and has seen bids by giants like AT&T, Google and Verizon.