What is a digital-to-analog converter box and how do I get one?
Digital-to-analog converter boxes will make DTV signals viewable on analog TV sets. These converter boxes will be available in retail stores during the transition. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce has been directed by Congress to set up a program that will allow households to obtain coupons that can be applied toward the purchase of digital-to-analog converter boxes.
When can I apply for my coupons?
You can apply for a coupon between January 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009, while supplies last.
How do I request a coupon?
Between January 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009, you can request a coupon while supplies last in one of four ways:
The consumer contact center will operate in six languages in addition to English: French, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese. The contact center will be accessible for hearing-impaired persons through a TTY number. The contact center and website can help answer questions you may have about obtaining and redeeming coupons, checking the status of your coupon request, and other issues.
Are coupon applications available any place else such as the library or grocery store?
NTIA is working with its partners to make applications available in the places where it makes the most sense for each community. The easiest way to apply is to call 1-888-388-2009, or, apply online. If you don't have a computer, your local library probably has computer terminals for public use.
Will retailers make coupon applications available in their stores?
Some retailers may offer coupon application forms at their stores. Retailers, however, cannot provide the coupons; consumers must request them from the Government. The decision to provide applications is up to each retailer. The easiest way to apply is to call 1-888-388-2009, or apply online.
When will I get my coupons?
Consumers who apply at the beginning or 2008 will receive their coupons when TV converter boxes are expected to be available in retail stores, probably in late February or early March.
What will the TV converter box coupon look like?
Coupons will look like plastic credit cards or gift cards used widely in the retail industry. Unlike gift cards, TV converter box coupons will carry no stored value and can only be used towards the purchase of eligible TV converter boxes.
Are all consumers eligible for the coupon program?
Yes, but supplies are limited. There are 22.25 million coupons available to all U.S. households. Once those coupons have been used, there are an additional 11.25 million coupons available only to households that solely receive their TV broadcasts over-the-air using an antenna. Households with TVs connected to cable, satellite or other pay TV service are not eligible for this second batch of coupons. Consumers can apply for coupons until March 31, 2009, or until the funds are exhausted.
How many coupons can I request?
Each household can request a maximum of two coupons. Each coupon may be applied towards the purchase of a single converter box. The coupons can be ordered one at a time or both at the same time.
What information do I need to provide the government to request my coupons?
The TV converter box coupon application requires that you provide your name, household address, number of coupons requested (maximum of two) and whether you subscribe to cable, satellite or other pay television service.
Will the government use my name and address for other purposes?
No. Your personal information is protected under privacy laws and will not be sold or used for other purposes other than administering the NTIA Coupon Program.
Are nursing homes, group homes and other institutions eligible for coupons?
Applicants must meet the Census definition of a household as consisting of "all persons who currently occupy a house, apartment, mobile home, group of rooms, or single room that is occupied as separate living quarters and has a separate U.S. postal address." A household is defined as separate living quarters with a separate U.S. Postal address. This definition includes all households located in U.S. Territories, but does not include Post Office Boxes.
Can I apply for someone who is unable to apply for themselves, such as an elderly parent?
Yes, but you will need to use their home address which will be validated for eligibility. Only two coupons can be used per U.S. household address, and the coupons are intended for the resident of that household.
What if I receive my mail at a Post Office Box?
The government can mail coupons to Post Office boxes in areas without home mail delivery. Post Office boxes will be accepted only for households on Indian reservations, Alaskan Native villages and other rural areas. The government may request additional information to validate the physical location of these households.
About the Digital Converter Box
How much do I have to pay for a TV converter box?
When TV converter boxes are available, retail stores will set the price. TV converter boxes are expected to cost between $50 and $70. The Federal Government permits each U.S. household up to two $40 coupons to help pay for the cost of the converter box. After applying the coupon, participating retailers will charge consumers the remaining balance of between $10 and $30.
When can I buy a TV converter box?
TV converter boxes are expected to be available in early 2008 at retailers where you would normally buy consumer electronics products. Before shopping for your converter box, you might want to call ahead to make sure retailers have converter boxes available.
What is meant by an "eligible" TV converter box?
TV converter box models must meet technical and performance standards determined by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in order to qualify for the Coupon Program. A list of eligible make and model numbers for purchase with the coupon can be found at our website, by clicking here.
Which manufacturers are making the TV converter boxes?
Are there differences?See a complete list of eligible TV converter boxes here. TV converter box features may vary depending on the brand; however all models will allow your analog TV to continue to operate after February 17, 2009. The best way to get information on individual converter boxes is to visit the manufacturer's website-or ask a customer service specialist at a store that sells them.
Does someone have to come into my home to install the converter box?
No, you should be able to install the converter box yourself using the instructions provided by the manufacturer. For specific questions, you should call the manufacturer's technical support hotline or ask your retailer. The NTIA program does not provide technical support.
How big is the converter box?
Converter boxes are about the size of a paperback book. Most will fit on top of a small to medium TV set.
Can I use the converter box along with my cable box?
No. Converter boxes from this program work only with over-the-air broadcast television signals, not cable or satellite service.
Will I receive Closed Captioning through a converter?
Yes. Manufacturers of converters are required to provide Closed Captioning for display on your television.
Do I need to purchase a TV converter box that is the same brand as my TV?
I have a handheld or battery-powered TV. Will this work after February 17, 2009? Can I connect it to a TV converter box?
Will my VCR or DVD player still work once I plug my converter box into my TV?
The analog equipment you currently use will continue to work with (output to) your analog TV set just as before, but they will not be able to receive over-the-air programming without the TV converter box. Attach the converter to your VCR, TiVo, DVD-R, etc. instead of hooking it directly to your TV.
Can I start using my TV converter box now or do I need to wait until after February 17, 2009 for it to work?
Consumers can begin enjoying the benefits of digital television today. Because most full-power stations are currently broadcasting both in digital and analog, viewers can plug in their converter boxes and generally receive a clearer picture and "multicast" channels, where they are available.
Will I receive High-Definition TV with a converter box?
No. Analog televisions are not capable of displaying High-Definition resolution, but the picture will generally be better with a TV converter box. If you want to view High-Definition TV, then you will need one of the newer sets rated for "High-Definition" resolution.