Microtune to NTIA: Converter Boxes Without our Tuners Don’t Work

Microtune warned the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) this week that its tests revealed that DTV converter boxes that don’t contain their tuners failed to meet NTIA’s performance standards.

Characterizing their findings as “a matter of critical importance to the U.S. government and to American consumers in the successful implementation of the U.S. digital television transition,” the Plano, Texas-based manufacturer of TV tuners said that internal testing in its ATSC lab identified tuner-related performance failures in certain certified coupon-eligible converter boxes that do not contain Microtune tuners. These converter boxes are widely available in retail channels.

These tested boxes failed to meet NTIA regulatory performance requirements, Microtune said, and could potentially result in the loss of digital TV reception in a number of number of major metropolitan areas, potentially impacting the millions of Americans who will rely on these converter boxes to receive free over-the-air TV broadcasts.

Microtune has made available to the NTIA its test results along with the testing methodologies used, which have been reviewed and validated by a third-party industry expert,

“The NTIA has established rigorous and necessary performance standards for the CECB program, which is subsidized by the U.S. government, and the NTIA requires converter box manufacturers to comply with these technical standards,” said James A. Fontaine, president and CEO of Microtune. “We have vigorously urged the NTIA to quickly audit, through expanded testing, potentially non-compliant converter boxes that are currently in production, and we have offered to support its efforts by briefing its representatives on our test findings.”

Fontaine warned, “Poor or non-performing converter boxes could create lack of confidence not only in the digital TV transition, but also in other digital TV products as well.”