Digital television raises questions


WASHINGTON -- Here are answers to some questions about digital television:

Q. How is digital television different from existing television?

A. The digital signals can carry more information, capable of producing more detailed pictures, clearer images, brighter colors and sharper sound on the same amount of broadcast bandwidth.

Q. Will I have to buy a new television set?

A. Not for several years. The Federal Communications Commission expects traditional broadcasts to continue along with digital service until about 2006. Viewers will be able to pay an estimated $150 to $300 for a converter box to pick up the new signals with existing televisions. Reception with the converter will not be as good as with a new digital television.

Q. How much will new digital sets cost?

A. When the first sets arrive on the market next fall, video pioneers can expect to pay more than $2,000.

Q. How is digital television different than high-definition television?

A. To produce high-quality images and sound, a single high-definition television channel would use virtually all the bandwith being handed out by the FCC. Broadcasters are more likely to split that bandwidth to offer a number of digital channels that would not be as super sharp, and use some channels to offer paging or other data services.

Q. Where will the digital broadcasts be first available?

A. Broadcasters have promised to begin offering digital service within two years in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit and Atlanta.

Pub Date: 4/20/97

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