In the last six weeks or so, there reportedly has been a run on the federal coupons that allow consumers with analog TV reception to buy new digital converter boxes in advance of the government-mandated digital TV transition. That has caused the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is administering the program, to put new coupon orders received as of Jan. 4 on a waiting list, with no guarantee that consumers requesting coupons after that date will get them on time for the big change.
The coupon shortfall resulted because the NTIA has reached its $1.34 billion funding limit for the program. Only Congress can arrange new funding, and despite ongoing efforts, that has yet to happen. The Associated Press reports that 24 million households have requested coupons, but many of them have requested more than one. About 18 million coupons have been redeemed thus far. However, consumers don't necessarily need the coupons, since they also can just sign up for digital TV service from a cable TV, satellite or IPTV provider, or can buy a digital TV set. Still, many industry observers have speculated that several million homes will not be able to make the necessary arrangements by Feb. 17.
Verizon Communications already ditched analog
The DTV transition has been dicey for small operators