One potential benefit of the switch is still in the works. Four channels of the spectrum were designated for public safety use, potentially allowing police and fire departments from different jurisdictions to communicate on the same network. During their response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, police and firefighters were prevented from communicating in some areas because their devices were incompatible, partly because they weren't using the same frequencies.
The government had hoped a company would step forward to build a public-private network on the spectrum that would allow police, firefighters and other emergency personnel to share information, but no one bid the $1.3-billion minimum required. Copps said the new FCC chief would have to come up with a new plan to build such a network.
Despite the potential benefits, Craig Carr of West Hills doesn't think the transition from analog to digital is worth the hassle. Carr, who once performed for the Ice Capades and is producing his own Las Vegas ice show, said he'll just spend more time beading costumes when his TV goes dark.
He doesn't have enough money to buy a new TV, he said, and the converter box he bought doesn't work with the TV he has. And though he won't be able to watch the news or ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" anymore, Carr said he has a solution for when he gets bored: "I'll just have to pop in a VHS tape and watch that."