On February 17th of next year, television stations across the country will turn off their current analog signals and replace them with digital.
The switch is known as the DTV Transition, and all television viewers need to figure out how the switch is going to affect them.
Many consumers are not aware that the transition is taking place next year.
While it will affect all of us to some extent, it will have the most impact on at least 20 million families who get their television stations for free.
Television technology in America will soon go through a major change, which experts say will be almost as big as changing from black and white to color TV.
In February of 2009, everything goes digital. If you watch your local stations using an antenna mounted on your TV set or your house, and don't pay for cable or satellite TV, you'll be the most affected.
WTVY Assistant Chief Engineer Tom Johnson said, "Once analog signals are shut off, people who are using antennas in their home will need to either have a television that has a digital tuner to be able to receive the digital broadcast, or to get a converter box that will take the digital signal and turn it back to an analog signal that their old TV, their analog TV will be able to display."
The best part of a digital signal is a much clearer picture and better sound quality.
"The nature of the digital signal is that if you are able to receive it, it will be, the picture will be perfectly clear,” Johnson adds. “There will not be a situation where you can get snow, a snowy signal or degraded signal."
If you are already a subscriber to a local cable or satellite company, chances are they will take care of converting the digital signal for you, regardless how old your television set is.
Lisa Hales, the director of Broadband Services in Graceba said, "The FCC is saying that it has to be a digital signal. So, what we're doing is we're taking that digital signal and converting it back to analog for them. [Therefore], if they don't have a digital TV, they can still pick up that digital signal."
Hales says that as of now and for its customers, there will not be an additional monthly cost once the change takes place, and their subscribers should need no additional equipment.
To help antenna users with the cost of upgrading to digital, Congress approved a $1.5 billion dollar converter box coupon program, where households can request as many as two, $40 dollar vouchers to put toward the cost of converter boxes.
But remember, the only people who need those are people who don't pay for their television now through a cable or satellite company.
Here is the number you can call to get those vouchers: 1-888-388-2009.
You can also apply at the government's website by clicking the link below.