[arin-ppml] DTV and IPv6

Ted Mittelstaedt tedm at ipinc.net
Thu Jan 29 16:52:15 EST 2009


> -----Original Message-----
> From: arin-ppml-bounces at arin.net 
> [mailto:arin-ppml-bounces at arin.net] On Behalf Of Milton L Mueller
> Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2009 8:25 AM
> To: ARIN-PPML at arin.net
> Subject: [arin-ppml] DTV and IPv6
> > -----Original Message-----
> > This is an excellent event for IPv6. Now we have a concrete way to 
> > tell people in the USA that they have to act and cannot delay the 
> > change. The IPv4 runout is not like the switch to digital 
> TV where you 
> > can delay things by legislating it. It's like the millenium 
> bug where 
> > you have to get stuff fixed now, not later.
> > 
> The DTV delay is a very bad sign for the v6 migration. It 
> indicates that politicians in the US are so fearful of the 
> possibility that people will be stranded when analog is shut 
> off that they are willing to maintain very costly "dual 
> stack" equivalents (broacasting on two channels) for another 
> 6 months (or more). It indicates that after 13 years of 
> planning for this transition no one has any confidence that 
> it will work when we actually pull the trigger.  

No that isn't what it means.

The failure of the HDTV transition in the US cannot be understood
without understanding the impact of the US Government's $40
coupon/converter box program, and why that program is such a
failure.  And it contains a lesson for us for the IPv6 switch.

The coupon box program failed in 4 major ways:

1) It ran out of money too early.  They stopped issuing coupons
in January 2009 a month before the actual conversion.  I understand
that included in the proposed economic stimulus bill is more
money for this program, which is likely part of the reason for
the delay.

The program was funded by sales of the VHF spectrum and the government
got billions for that - and only allocated a miserable amount of this
to the program.

2) Coupons were for a fixed amount of $40 that could ONLY be spent
on certified converter boxes.  HOWEVER all that a person really needs
is conversion of the signal from digital to analog - and that can be
performed by MANY devices OTHER than just a converter box.  A MUCH MORE
LOGICAL purchase than a converter box would have been a purchase of
a DVR/DVD player with HD tuner and analog outputs - such as for
example the LG Electronics model LST-3510a.

For citizens who wished to use the $40 coupon to OFFSET the purchase
of a more expensive device, they should have been allowed to do it.

Citizens should also have been permitted to COMBINE the 2 coupons
to purchase a more expensive device AS LONG AS it converted from
digital signal to analog.  OR to purchase a brand new HDTV set.

Remember the HDTV switch obsoleted millions of VCRs too - unless your
going to record the inferior converted signal.

The government ASSUMED that retailers and manufacturers would provide
converter boxes that were MUCH CHEAPER than the $40 so as to
be able to not have to pay out the full $40 per coupon.  This showed
extreme naievity in how retail works.  It is only now, AFTER the coupon
program has run out of money and no new $40 coupons are being issued, that
the retailers are actually discounting below $40.  Any smart
consumer could have told you that would happen.

Furthermore, virtually everyone who participated in the converter
box program bought their 2 converter boxes.  A LARGE NUMBER of people
who have cable or satellite or new HDTV's who didn't even need the
went and participated in the program anyway - because they figured once they
got their $9.95 converter box, they could turn around and sell it
for $30 or so.  Check out Craigslist - there's tons of new converter boxes
for sale right now.

The effect of the government pushing converter boxes instead of
simply giving everyone a choice to use the $80 to help buy a new TV
set (Target is selling $119.00 HDTVs right now, in fact) or DVR
player was to flood the country with converter boxes.  More about this

3)  The coupons COULD NOT be used to purchase antennas.  Most HDTV stations
broadcast on UHF and most analog on VHF so anyone in a rural area
or poor-signal area had an outside antenna - and most of these were VHF
antennas.  And the HDTV UHF band is slightly larger than the analog UHF
band so older UHF antenna designs have to be slightly retuned for
optimal reception (they work fine in the city with stronger signal, though)

All the HDTV advertising is watered
down to be useless since it's one-size-fits-all.  The ads come on and
tell you to get ready for the switch but they don't tell you what
retailers are selling converters, or even what a converter box is or
what it looks like.  And they say you MIGHT need a new TV antenna - in
reality you WILL need a new antenna - and they don't show you a picture
of what antenna to get.

So, now there's a huge trade on unscruplous manufacturers selling powered
set-top HDTV antennas that merely amplify noise instead of collecting more
usable signal.  So a lot of people are buying these at $60 a pop
and finding out they don't work then replacing them with a passive dual
channel master or something for $40.

It would have been better for the advertising to show a dual or stacked
HDTV antenna.  Instead the advertising refers people to antennaweb.org
that just shows you how to aim it which is utterly STUPID - bow-tie
antennas ARE NOT DIRECTIONAL unless they are mounted in front of a
reflector!  And in most cities the HDTV stations are scattered around
so a city resident DOES NOT EVEN WANT a directional HDTV antenna!!!!

bow-tie UHF antennas have been around for years and patents on them
have long ago run out - which is why they are cheap - and people
can make indoor ones with coat hangars if they want that work great - plans
are on the Internet.

4) There were big distribution problems with the coupons.  They didn't
send them to PO boxes - so a lot of poor people who live in apartments,
who are the people who really would have benefited more from the
coupons - couldn't get them.  Some people reported getting the coupons
in the mail a week before the coupon expired.  And many people who
got coupons early couldn't find a retailer local to them that sold
the converter boxes, and so the coupon ended up expiring.  The coupons
had 90 day expirations on them.

Those reasons are why that program was a failure.  

Probably the worst of all of this is that since they decided to go the 
converter box route is that they set HDTV deployment back MANY
years. These converter boxes are simple devices with no moving parts so they
are going to last - within 2 years your going to see the
secondary market saturated with converter boxes.  That will simply make
it so that nobody will be throwing away obsolete technology TV sets.

We are going to end up with millions of Americans who take the cheap way out
get the $49.95 converter box that costs $9.95 with the coupon -
and plug that into a crappy TV with horrible resolution.  It
will GREATLY delay TV show producers from moving to full-width HDTV
so everyone who spends the money on a decent HDTV set is going to be
screwed since they won't be seeing full-width TV programs for years -
meanwhile the broadcasters had to spend all the money on broadcast
gear that WOULD do full-width TV shows.

Even commercials - you would think when an advertiser is paying
gazillions of dollars a minute for a TV commercial that they would
want to utilize every scrap of screen real estate - but there are
very few TV commercials in HD.  Unbelievable!

> Yes, as Dillon there is says one critical difference: 
> broadcasting is a highly regulated industry with an overlay 
> of political control and responsibility lodged directly in 
> governments. (This hierarchical, political form of control 
> has done as much to delay the transition as hasten it, as 
> anyone familiar with the politics of U.S. broadcasting knows.) 

The politicians did not want to be critized for sending millions
of pounds of lead into the nation's landfills by basically
telling everyone to go out and scrap their TV and buy a new TV.
What this ignores is that those TV's are going to eventually fail
and be scrapped out anyway.  That is why they focused on the
converter box program.

The principle lesson we can take from this is that with the
IPv6 switchover, the VERY BEST way to do it would be to simply
tell everyone to scrap out their older IPv4-only gear.

Sure, there will be some screams.  Sure there will be some wack
jobs complaining about filling landfills.  But any attempt to
accommodate IPv4 merely hampers forward progress on IPv6 which
screws over the responsible people who do what they are supposed
to and spend the money on IPv6 gear.  And
for most people, the costs to going to IPv6 really are not
high at all.


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