Friday, January 30, 2009

Senate Approves Another DTV Delay Bill

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After getting killed in the house of representatives, the US senate has passed another bill to delay the national switch off of analog television broadcasting. Just like in the original bill this would allow television stations to continue broadcasting analog signals until June 12th. Those advocating the delay claim that millions of homes that depend exclusively on over the air signals are not ready.

There will still millions who will be unprepared if the switch to DTV happens on February 17th or June 12th. It's not because there is not enough public awareness efforts from both government and the broadcasting industry. It's because people are keeping themselves blissfully ignorant. It will take them nothing short of their TV's going blank before they buy a TV with a digital tuner or a converter box.

When Analog gets shut off when ever it happens there is going to be a shortage of converter boxes. Even if their was a nationwide blitz of door to door selling of converter boxes delaying to June 12th wouldn't give enough time to get to all of those who watch TV's using antennas.

The coupon program running out of money just weeks before the original deadline just goes to show how badly it was designed and operated. The program should have been a mail in rebate program right from the start.

The same issues are going to arise whenever the change over to DTV happens, public safety agencies need the radio frequency spectrum now, all those who get their TV from over the air broadcasting deserve the same picture and sound quality that cable and satellite subscribers get now, so let's just do it now!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Samsung Google Android Phone Brings New Hope To Canadians

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According to a story on CNET News article, Samsung will be the second company to bring an Android based smartphone to market. The Samsung Android based phone hardware will be similar to Samsung's Instinct. The Samsung Android smartphone will be available as a GSM version on T-Mobile, and CDMA on Sprint.

Now that there's a CDMA Android smartphone coming, new hope comes to Canadian cell subscribers that they will finally get a chance to have an Android based phone. It's almost certain that Bell or Telus will try to get Samsung into an exclusivity agreement. For Bell it would help bring high end subscribers that are signing up with Rogers just to get an iPhone.

For Telus getting a smartphone running Android would help Telus gain market share in Ontario where Bell and Rogers already own the market. In Western Canada carrying an Android based smartphone will help Telus gain market share against the regional carriers like MTS which have tremendous customer loyality. With Shaw communications possibly entering the cell phone market after winning spectrum auctions in 2008, being the exclusive carrier of such smartphones will help keep any current Telus cellular subscribers who could possibily defect to Shaw.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Why Won't The CAB Won't Answer Questions About DTV?

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A month ago I e-mailed the Canadian Association of Broadcasters with a few questions about the transition to digital television broadcasting coming in August 2011. After that month, still no reply.

The Questions I put to them were:

1.) The deadline for over the air television stations to convert their over the air transmissions from analog to digital is in 2011, but in the United States the deadline for making the same transition is on February 17 2009, less than two months from now. Why is it taking an extra two years to make the transition in Canada?

2.) In Regina the local over the air television stations haven't even started transmitting digital signals along side their analog transmissions. When can I expect to see local digital over the air signals in Regina?

3.) With millions of TV sets with analog tuners still being used with over the air as the sole source of programming. Will the converter boxes that are on the market in the United States that receive digital over the air TV signals and converts them to analog be available in Canada, and if so when will the be available in stores.

4.) Many households where over the air is the only source of television programming fall under the poverty line. For many those who fit in to this category, buying a television set with a digital tuner or subscribing to cable or satellite service isn't an option. Will there be a voucher program similar to that in the United States that subsidizes the cost of converter boxes be offered in Canada?

These questions simple, not critical of the broadcasting industry, so why didn't they answer? Their silence has already said so much!

My Original Article about DTV in Canada

Monday, January 12, 2009

Is The Palm Pre The Saviour Phone for Bell or Telus?

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The most talked about cell phone at the most recent CES that just wrapped up, wasn't powered by Google's Android like so many were expecting. Instead it was from a company that was left for dead by much of the media that covers technology. The Pre captured attention that Palm hasn't seen in practically a decade. The Pre will launch on the Sprint network sometime in the first half of 2009. With subscribers switching to AT&T to get an iPhone or to T-Mobile for the Android based G1, Sprint has needed a smartphone like the pre for a very long time.

Speculation about which Canadian carrier will offer the Pre to their subscribers has already begun. A killer smartphone like the Pre will be essential to help the big Canadian CDMA carriers Bell Mobility and Telus to meet the challenge from Rogers with the iPhone and any potential new cell carriers expecting to start to offer service in the end of 2009 or sometime in 2010 with the G1 or some other Android based smartphone.

Telus needs to be the exclusive carrier of the Pre simply because it will one of the biggest things that will help them expand market share outside Alberta and BC. Palm needs Telus because Telus is truly a national carrier since Bell has very little coverage in BC and Alberta and no coverage in Saskatchewan or Manitoba.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Calls to Postpone Digital Switchover

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The switching off of analog over the air TV signals is now just a little more than a month away and calls for a postponement haven't silenced but instead are coming from high places. Consumers' Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports magazine claim that "millions of at-risk consumers, including rural, low-income and elderly citizens across the country could be left with blank television screens," according to Joel Kelsey and Christopher Murray of Consumers' Union.

The co-chair of the Obama-Biden transisition team, John Podesta has joined in the call for a postponement of the transition to digital broadcast television. Podestra notes that demand for the forty dollar vouchers for DTV converter boxes has increased to a point that there are now a million people on a waiting list to get vouchers.

The US government agency in charge of the voucher program, National Telecommunications and Information Administration has run out of money for the voucher program. This would seem to be problematic if the cost of the converter boxes was in the hundreds of dollars, but boxes are now approaching the forty dollar price point. Even if funding doesn't come until after the Febuary, 17th analog cutoff, there is not reason to hold off the switch over and turn the voucher program into a rebate. There are very few that can't scratch together forty dollars. DTV brings better picture and sound quality to all television viewers, don't postpone just get on with it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Death of Music DRM

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Digital rights management, the technology restricts how music and videos are used by people who pay to download, is on it's way to becoming history (for downloaded music at least). At MacWorld Expo keynote Apple's Phil Schiller announced that all ten million songs available for download from the iTunes Music Store will no longer have DRM restrictions.

Steve Jobs lead the charge against Digital Rights Management about this time last year when he called on the recording industry to drop the requirement for DRM restrictions on all purchased downloaded music. Initially only EMI music played ball with Apple and offered DRM free songs on the iTunes Music store for an extra thirty cents per song.

Other online stores had more success in getting big music to drop DRM from paid downloads. went DRM free back in the summer of 2008. Amazon started their MP3 store with no DRM restrictions from the first day.

Now that Apple is going DRM free, it will be interesting to see if they stay with the AAC format or will they go to MP3. Going over to MP3 would mean that any digital music player could play songs downloaded from iTunes. Would Apple dare to be that open? Do the words too good to be true come to mind? but then Zunes play nonencrypted DRM free AAC files. Ain't that to strange to be true!

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