Government Coupons Make Digital Converter Boxes More Affordable - - The News for South Mississippi

Government Coupons Make Digital Converter Boxes More Affordable

GULFPORT (WLOX)-- Industry experts estimate 19 million U.S. households won't have a television picture next year unless they invest in the right technology. That's because starting February 17th, the Federal Communications Commissions is mandating that broadcasters switch from an analog signal to a digital. But not everyone has a television built to receive digital.

We're hooked up to an antenna for our local channels. Victor and Darlene Lovell say when they realized they needed a digital converter box.. they headed to the store with a 40 dollar coupon from the federal government in hand.

"I called the 800 number and they took my name," said Darlene Lovell. "Everything showed up on their caller I.D. What phone number I was calling from, my home phone number and everything. It was about 6 to 8 weeks and we got our coupon. "

Along with their coupon, the Lovells also received a list of stores in their area that sell the converter boxes. The Harrison County couple's daughter also got a government coupon for a digital converter box but she ordered on-line.

"You put in your address, your phone number and that's about it," said Darlene Husman. "It tells you when you're going to get it and you get a printable receipt you do it."

The Best Buy staff says more people are coming in asking questions about who needs a converter.

Edward Bailey is a technology expert at Best Buy. "The people that don't need the converter boxes are people that subscribe cable that have digital cable boxes, high definition boxes and people that have satellite boxes."

The Best Buy staff says the coupon be used up to 90 days after it's issued. However, people must have it when they come in.

"We actually have a couple of consumers that come in they'll ask about the converter boxes and if we're offering coupons for them. Actually, no, we aren't, " said Bailey. "Once it comes in the mail, they can come in Best Buy or any other place that sells converter boxes and they'll honor that voucher."

People shopping for a digital converter box should be careful not to spend more money than they need to.

At Circuit City in Gulfport store officials say  they sell two converter boxes. One is for $60 dollars and another for about 180 dollars. Employees say the less expensive standard box is the best option for people who have older television sets.

Technology expert Scott Patterson said "You're going to get the same signal regardless of the cost of the box.It's just the type of connection on the back of the box. The higher end will have a variety of connections compared to the basic box. It'll have basic connections."

Patterson says the higher priced converter boxes are for people whose televisions are HDTV ready.

If your unsure if you need a converter just ask an employee at an electronics store.

by  Danielle Thomas

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