Chipmaker tests DTV converter boxes

September 10th, 2007

Although a handful of companies have publicly announced plans to market digital TV converter boxes to U.S. consumers, the actual size and competitiveness of that still-emerging segment of the consumer electronics market remains something of a mystery.

Chipmaker Microtune today offered some fresh evidence of activity among digital-to-analog converter manufacturers, indicating that “multiple customer converter box designs” will employ its three-in-one tuner, the MicroTuner MT2131. The company did not specify what brand name or names the DTV converter boxes will carry.

Microtune facilities in Plano, Texas, are being used to help its customers test converter box tuner performance against technical requirements established by the U.S. government. To become eligible for the federal $40-off DTV coupon program, manufacturers must submit sample converter boxes to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for certification.

“We believe that Microtune has one of the few facilities in the world that can test a converter set-top box to the difficult tuner-related requirements demanded by the NTIA,” said Microtune CEO James A. Fontaine. “We have used our facilities and suite of test scenarios for our own ATSC A/74 testing events, and we can confirm compliance with applicable NTIA tuner specifications, including those of sensitivity, dynamic range, phase noise, co-channel rejection, adjacent and taboo channel rejection, burst noise immunity, and single static echo performance.”

The government coupon program begins accepting requests in January 2008, in anticipation of the shutdown of analog TV broadcasts on February 17, 2009.

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