"Essentially they are using vestigial sideband modulation. That's essentially a bizarre idea. Unlike DVB-T multi-path reception is a serious problem."
Actually it's not. The first generation tuners had SEVERE multipath problems. Just terrible. The tuner stick I bought like 2 or 3 years ago was 5th-generation, and tolerates severe multipath... enough that it'd ghost out an analog picutre about one and a half lines. Apparently, as a tradeoff, ATSC permits reception at lower signal levels than DVB-T. Which is good because my stations are like 70 miles away and the signal strength is awful.
@Dan Paul, no worry, this isn't a plan to switch from current system to something else, it just permits the cable co to shift analog channels to digital-only, and provide a cheaper box to people who don't have a box. The cheaper box actually *doesn't* allow pay-per-view, and has no useful program guide (since they want to charge $5 a month for the privelge of having one of *those* boxes.) It's like type in the channel and it comes in.
"Now cell phones were allocated the range from 800-890 MHz, but since that was the 'analog' (generation 1) phone system, it isn't being used much"
That's wrong, the analog systems have been vritually all decomissioned. But, the band is by no means vacant -- in almost any populated area of the country, the band is absolutely full with the cell cos choice of either GSM/EDGE + WCDMA, or CDMA + EVDO. I can verify in my area, Verizon Wireless has 8 CDMA-1X and 3 EVDO channels in their portion of the 800mhz band, and US Cellular has their portion of the band full of CDMA and has to use some additional PCS (1900mhz) to run EVDO. There's probably a couple 100khz guard bands at the "edges" of their bands that are essentially wasted, but I doubt even 1mhz is clear in most cities.
I'm not sure how useful this is -- my local cable company ALREADY gone from having analog channels from 2-78 to having analog on the "broadcast basic" 2-22.. so from 77 channels down to 20. Last I saw digital cable, it still was unwatchable, close to a year after the analog (near) shutdown they still hadn't moved the digital channels around onto those 57 or so freed up channels. Turns out (especially since they are still using MPEG2, no MPEG4 like Dish Network and DirecTV use for their dishes...at least for HD..) that putting like a dozen stations (i've seen as many as 15!) on one 6mhz channel looks blocky as all hell, and putting like 6 HD stations on one 6mhz channel also looks awful. Go figure. But that's the point, they already can turn off most analog stations, to the point that they probably do not have enough digital to fill them up anyway.
That said, if this happens I'm cancelling. I get most of my stuff over the air anyway (MythTV, an ATSC tuner stick and an amplified Grey-Hovermann antenna), but have the broadcast basic cable for like $13 a month. I'm not going to go the trouble of trying to rig an IR blaster to control some dumb cable box for the little that that offers, and also don't care to spend the bucks for a QAM capture device.