State of the Multibox for the U.S Market

June 24, 2008

One of the most viewed posts on this blog is the one headlined “One DTV-converterbox for the whole house“. the post is still and steadily growing in attraction since the phrase is a very common search on Google and other search engines. Also, it is a kind of product that many would like to have – lowering the cost and make the transition easier. The product the post is telling about is the Multibox – a true “One converter box for the whole house”. Pictured below from the product site at A2B.  It doesn’t come  in a “applesque” cool design, after all it is supposed to be placed up in the attic..

Many have made comments on this blog and asked about more details for the converter box. One commentator has pinpointed a great thing about having one converterbox for the whole house – it won´t use as much energy as having several boxes within the house. Thinking lean and green is a smart thing.

However, I asked Mr. Ari Miettinen at A2B, the company who is producing the so called Multibox, if it is sold on the U.S market yet and what their plans are. Ari told me that the model that they sell in Europe does not work in the U.S due to the different standard for broadcasts in the U.S (ATSC).

Mr. Miettinen say that they do understand the great interest in the U.S for a Multibox. And they are developing something for the U.S market. But, they can’t say anything yet about the plans or time until something is ready to be launched.

So my advice to you who are interested in a Multibox is to send an e-mail to A2B, expressing your interest for the U.S version of the Multibox. That might speed up the process. And by the way – ask your local DTV retailer if they have anything like it – if not give them a heads up on this one..

Anders Bjers


Obama on Media and DTV Switch

June 16, 2008

Only a few hours ago businessmedia Broadcasting&Cable released an exclusive Q&A with presidential contender Barack Obama. It is B&C journalist John Eggerton who made a Q&A with Obama via e-mail some time ago and now the reply from Obama is out.

Obama comments on the switch to DTV, something that will take place only four weeks after the new president is sworn in. Obama say that he supports the coalition between the public and private to make a transition that is “without significant disruption”. Obama also comments on the media structure in the U.S and else that is on his agenda. He identifies that the Internet is a form of distribution and natural force that is significant for the development of democracy.

You can find th whole Q&A on Broadcasting & Cable.

Anders Bjers

How will the economy affect the DTV transition

June 11, 2008

With every day passing by the gas price is up and the date for the DTV transition moving closer. With the economy in mind I wonder how the transition might be affected.  When the economy is up  we would not ask us this.  However, the pricetag a converterbox might be a great difference for consumers living on the margin. Concerns have been raised. Such as Best Buys CEO comment on the fact in January at CES 2008.

Also, part of comverterboxes are made of plastics, parts are being flown in or shipped from Asia to shelves or production facilities in the U.S.

Little has been reported about converterboxes in a economic perspective. Will prices increase and in that way surpass the NTIA coupons program and the worth of a coupon?

It would be interesting to learn more about the economic side of the transition for a consumer but with a broader perspective on the market, products and prices.

Will there be a choice for some to fill a tank with gas or buy a converterbox? I really hope not.

Anders Bjers

GAO Reports – Only Every Other Knows To Act

June 11, 2008

Yesterdays hearing in the House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee about the status of the DTV transition revealed that 84% of Americans are now aware about the DTV transition. Although, only half of them who needs to act are prepared to do so. And, there seams to be a shortage of converter boxes.

The overall awareness are growing and campaigns are showing good results. I would expect that local TV-stations and newsmedia are doing the large part of the job to move the consumer awareness forward.

However, I believe that stakeholders need to get the message out in a more practical way – that is -what to do and also clarify who needs to act even more practical. I also wonder how local businesses are preparing to help out with installations for both consumers and local entities like housing and apartment buildings. A good example is Univisions digital Squad that is a grass root campaign in the making. Street teams will show consumers how to use converterboxes. Thats the way to do it!

Business week and Reuters reports about a possible glitch in the coupons program as well. Washington Post  also reports that many are still unprepared.

There is little talk abut the fact that some consumers need to change the set up of stations on the DTV converterbox the day after the transition, when some tv-stations will continue on a different frequency than before. That is a second action during the transition. Many consumers will thing they are done the day they have successfully made their converter box running smooth.

But GAO reports an interesting miss match. About half of the ones who needs to act don’t recognize the fact. And about 30% of people who are unaffected – are planning to act! So, there is a great mission to bring clarification to households. I wonder if there are going to be some more specific out-reach campaigns in order to bring people up to a second level of awareness.

But also, what are the actual status when it comes to converterboxes? To have empty shelves is a nightmare. In Sweden we were checking the supply of boxes constantly. I am sure the same thing happens in the U.S. But, more importantly, there was no regulation on the Swedish market when it came to providers of converterboxes as there is in the U.S. That resulted in a broad choice of products. However, that put the pressure on consumers to understand what they needed and should buy. A delicate task for many, not comfortable to buy electronic goods. Even if boxes looks pretty much the same and has a similar pricetag, they have variations on the inside that makes a difference. So, it is important to tell consumers to buy a box with the option to return it and get another brand. If there was problems with the reception in the first place a different box could work properly due to fx the sensitivity of the receiver. I think it is a mistake to limit the market and in that sense not providing a wide range of choices for consumers but more importantly – to avoid a real shortage of boxes.

/ Anders Bjers