A new self made Y2K?

December 24, 2007

Y2K (year 2000) was really not a big deal as predected, I remember, people were standing by at work at midnight while waiting for the bomb which never happened to drop. Amazingly enough we did get through it as I saw so many gaps in technology and so called analysist/consultants analyzing systems who didn't have a clue what they were even looking at!

In 2008 the United States of America has created it's own technology shutdown! The least known is the shutdown of Analog cellular networks! You say what's the big deal? Who uses Analog cell networks? How about OnStar equipped cars made only a few years back? One estimate puts the total Onstar effected people at a half million users many of which do not have the ability to upgrade to digital! Manufacturers have known this change was coming for a while yet continued to produce equipment that would be obsolete in a short time. You must go to www.onstar.com and check your VIN number to determine if your onstar system will function or not at the start of 2008 however, it would appear some cars as old as 4 years old will no longer function and as late as 2005 some Onstar systems will no longer function!

Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Alltel still have analog networks and will be shutting down over time in 2008. The FCC indicated that starting in February 2008 the analog networks could start shutting down but as far as I can tell it is a voluntary shutdown by networks, the FCC isn't saying you must shut down but that you can shut down. According to one estimate as many as 1 million cell phones will loose service! A few rual cell providers may keep their analog networks running since it may be the only coverage.

So you don't have Onstar, then who cares? How about the wireless in your alarm system? Only in 2006 were true digital modems for alarm systems available! Estimates are nearly a half million alarm systems will loose their radio backup systems and those with radio only will loose all their communication. Perhaps a million other devices will loose communication such as communications for trucking companies, manufacturers and utilities like remotely readable meters...

Sure dropping the analog networks will provide more radio spectrum for digital which can operate with 10 times more traffic than on an analog network in the same space. However, this was a surprise to many!

For more information read the following bits of information:

FCC consumer advisory: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/analogcellphone.html

OnStar: http://www.onstar.com

Alltel advisory: http://tinyurl.com/3x53gz

Verizon Wireless advisory: http://tinyurl.com/2bg628

Central Station Alarm Association: http://www.csaaul.org/

Aeris: http://www.aeris.net


Another transition that many may know about is the transition of TV broadcasts to all digital by February 17, 2009. After February 17th, 2009 you will no longer be able to view TV broadcasts if you do not own a TV which receives only an analog signal. If your TV is connected to cable then you are ok, cable will continue to broadcast as it is. Of course, digital cable and direct TV, Dish Network and so on will continue as they are since they are digital already.

However, those receiving over the air signals will need a converter box to convert digital to analog for your TV. The boxes are currently not available but expect to be early 2008. Two coupons per household will be provided by the government worth $40 a piece toward the purchase of the converter boxes. Coupons can be requested starting January 1, 2008 and congress set aside 1.5 billion dollars to fund the program. So your really paying for it one way or another. While it's not a bad idea, all digital as it free's up radio spectrum and enhances services it will certainly be a profit maker for manufacturers! Even today you can buy small TV's which are analog only and we are about a year away from the conversion. Larger TV's have been required to be digital for a while. Many small TV's may not even work with a converter box.


The fight against the light bulb.

Next on the attack is your light bulb. Ordinary light builbs are to be banned across the European Union within 2 years starting in 2007. For the United States a phaseout of the incandesent bulb will begin in 2012 as per a law signed by President Bush in December 2007. It is all to be environmentally friendly to reduce greenhouse gases that supposedly cause global warming. Of course, many florsent bulbs contain mercury which can be quite costly to clean up when a bulb is broken and quite toxic if not cleaned up properly! How about disposal, who actually disposes of them properly from a household perspective? Under the new energy law the 100 watt bulb will be phased out first in 1012 followed by the 75 watt a year later and then 40 and 60 watt bulbs. Some bulbs are exempt such as special bulbs in appliances, traffic signals and so on. So it might save electricity and help fight against global warming, will we now contaminate everything with mercury? I would hate to see what would happen in an earthquake?

Should I get in on floride added to water? No I'll save that for another day...