September 1st was the last date for new CECB manufacturers to file Notices of Intent. Since NOIs are supposed to be filed three months before submitting samples for review and certification, we won't know who all the players are until December. Manufacturers who've already received at least one certification prior to 9/1 have until the 30th for any additional filings, meaning the final list of CECBs won't be out until next year.
If you haven't requested your coupons yet, the best time to do so is starting to look like early November (remember, coupons expire after 90 days) unless it appears the Initial Funding is about to dry up, in which case households with cable/satellite will need to make their requests ASAP. On the other hand, if it looks like funding remains adequate, consider staggering requests rather than requesting both coupons at once.
Another argument for purchasing two CECBs even if you only have one television set: unlike analog, where you can switch channels in a fraction of a second, digital tuners may take several seconds (I've seen reports of 4-15 seconds in some cases), pretty much killing off "channel surfing." If you want to flip back and forth between two programs, it's probably going to be a lot easier with two CECBs if your TV has multiple inputs.
Expect to see a lot of people begging for "spare" coupons for senior/disabled residents of care homes, and prison inmates.
Unfortunately, reputable ratings are still hard to come by for most models, and pretty much all of them have some sort of significant design flaw or annoying misfeature.
The FCC has granted small cable systems a three-year exemption from having to carry high-definition versions of broadcast signals (FCC 08-193). They still have to provide "viewable" signals, but they can be "materially degraded" relative to what's available for free, over-the-air.
Speaking of cable, there's been a lot of misinformation going around telling cable / satellite customers they don't need CECBs. For many satellite customers, it's completely wrong, as they're still receiving their local stations via broadcast. If cable operators are successful in dissuading customers from getting converter boxes, they'll be free to jack their rates sky-high after the transition date, as their primary competition will have been eliminated. Remember, a converter box is a lot cheaper than "basic" cable.
- See the Cancel Cable web site to learn how much you can save by going "cable-free."
You already know that low-power broadcasters are exempt from the transition date, but some full-power broadcasters may join them if Congress passes The DTV Border Fix Act. The House version (H.R. 5435) would give stations within 50 miles of the Mexican border an extra five years; the Senate version (S. 2507) calls for a four-year extension. Both have been referred to a House committee.