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Digital television has been all over the news recently as many people scramble to learn what it is and why it is being forced on them by the government. It is definitely not something to worry about. It is only technology progressing to higher and improved levels. Digital signals are delivered in one of three ways to a television, and many people are already using digital television via wired (cable) and satellite transmission.
The first television and phone technology that is now being phased out is called analogue. Analogue signals are electronic representations of the actual sounds and images they represent. Analogue broadcasts have the drawback that sometimes the signal gets distorted and so the image and sound quality can be distorted or fuzzy as well. Digital signals work differently and are based on how computers work. Before being sent, sounds and images are converted into a binary code, a series of 1s and 0s. Instead of the images being broadcast, only the code of 1s and 0s is broadcast. A digital receiver then translates the binary code back into sounds and images. The receiver, quite often, can also compensate for an amount of lost signal through computer processing. Digital signals can carry High Definition and there is no loss of quality. With digital signals it is either all or nothing.
Almost all new LCD and Plasma televisions have a digital receiver built into them that will be able to pick up a digital broadcast. Older televisions will have to be equipped with a converter box for Freeview reception. For those who already subscribe to a cable or satellite television service, the digital switchover will not affect them. They most likely have been using a digital signal for several years now and have a converter box provided by the company.
The reason for the switchover is not to confound people. With our modern society and technology it is becoming a necessity. Analogue broadcasts take up considerable bandwidth and with more services and more devices going wireless, the spectrum is rapidly filling. Digital signals take significantly less bandwidth and more will be free for new services and to promote competition with new companies. The exact uses are still being hammered out by Parliament, but revenues are expected to be from £5 - £15 billion over 20 years.