NTIA: Converter boxes coming next month

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Electronics manufacturers and retailers will have digital-to-analog converter boxes on store shelves by Feb. 18, said Meredith Baker, acting head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The NTIA, which is running the federal converter box program, also announced plans for special consumer education projects, including a “application completion” week in September in which churches and other community organizations will help people apply for $40 coupons for the converters. As of Wednesday, consumers had applied for 3.7 million of the coupons, the NTIA said. A recent APTS survey found that 40 percent of over-the-air households would rather get their digital TV via converters, as opposed to 12 percent who said they’d subscribe to cable or satellite. Some electronics execs have been nervous that the industry would be able to meet the demand.