While installation services are free, consumers will still need to have a converter box on hand for each television in need of conversion. Monday, June 1 is the last day to order and receive by the June 12 deadline a coupon for $40 off the cost of a converter box. Coupons will still be redeemable after the transition, but consumers may not receive them in time if they don't order one by June 1. Consumers can receive a coupon by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC.
The issue of preparedness if especially acute here. The FCC believes Chicago-area residents are the least prepared nationwide for the transition, according to call volume during recent tests. Of the nearly 3.5 million households in the Chicago market, Nielsen estimates (as of May 10) that 2.19 percent are completely unready for the transition to DTV. That means more than 76,000 homes across the Chicagoland area could possibly be without any television signal on June 12.
On June 12, all full-power television stations in the United States will stop analog broadcast service and transmit only digital signals. Consumers who do not subscribe to pay television services and have older, analog televisions will need to attach digital-to-analog converter boxes to their televisions in order to continue receiving over-the-air television programming. The switch to digital will reward most viewers with better sound, a better picture, more channels and more programs. The transition will also help save lives by clearing airwaves for better first-responder radio service. And it makes room for the future by clearing airwaves for advanced mobile Internet services.