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AFN Might Actually Go High-Def By The End Of This Year...Maybe
After years of delay, American Forces Network is poised to go completely digital, a change that will require thousands of off-base AFN viewers to purchase new decoders to keep the service.
The American Forces Radio and Television Service, AFN’s parent organization, plans to convert all of AFN’s programming to high definition by the end of the year, said Col. Dave Honchul, AFRTS director.
“We’re fulfilling the promise that we made,” he said. “We’ve been hearing from the viewers and we’ve been working this for a while.”
The switch to high definition was originally planned for fiscal 2012, but full conversion was delayed by budget constraints, contracting problems and other issues.
In anticipation of the conversion, many overseas viewers purchased a more expensive HD decoder — the Cisco D9865.
The Cisco decoder at the Exchange on Ramstein Air Base can be purchased for $369 or leased for $18 a month. The new devices are expected to be at least $100 less than the current decoders, Honchul said.
About two-thirds of the 70,000 AFN decoders in use are the Cisco D9865 and are HD compatible; when AFN upgrades its satellite signal, those decoders will still work with some setting changes, Honchul said. But an estimated 20,000 older decoders are still in use, and those will have to be replaced or “you will not get anything,” once the signal is upgraded, he said.
The new decoders are in the contracting and production phase and will be available for purchase online and at Exchange stores in the coming months.
“Our goal is to make sure that the decoders have been out and available for at least a month or two before we start forcing the switch,” Honchul said.
The upgrade involves switching the network’s broadcast signal to a digital format that can transmit high-definition audio and video, improving the picture and sound quality of AFN’s current eight-channel lineup.
The conversion will be implemented in phases, tentatively slated to begin in early August in the Pacific region for Navy ships using AFN’s Direct-to-Sailor service. AFN at sea still won’t be high-definition, but the picture quality, which currently is below standard-definition, will be better, Honchul said.
The signal to ships in Europe will be converted next along with contingency sites downrange, followed by the off-base Direct-to-Home and on-base service in Europe, then the Pacific. The conversion should be complete by the end of the year, Honchul said.
“It has taken a lot longer than any of us ever anticipated,” he said. “We acknowledge we’ve been saying this for a while. I’m just happy that ... that we are going to go high-def.”
The switch to high definition was originally planned for fiscal 2012. But after AFN launched an HD sports channel in 2011, full conversion to digital was delayed by budget constraints, contracting problems and other issues.
The new decoder will have some added features, including a Digital Video Recorder that will enable viewers to record television programs, as well as a better viewing guide.
For those just moving into off-base housing, Honchul suggested leasing or borrowing a decoder until the new ones are available.
The new encoding contract costs about $5.3 million. It encodes the signal from the AFN Broadcast Center in California out to the regions, protecting it from piracy.
Still undetermined is which installations overseas will be able to broadcast AFN in high definition. If a base cable provider is not able to show the programming in HD, it will still be able to provide AFN in standard definition, Honchul said.
AFN viewers can get more information about the transition to high definition at myafn.net; a 24-hour call center will also be stood up later this year to support the effort.
©2017 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
The FBI is treating the recent shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, as a terrorist attack, several media outlets reported on Sunday.
"We work with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism," USA Today quoted FBI Agent Rachel Rojas as saying at a news conference.
WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un risks losing "everything" if he resumes hostility and his country must denuclearize, after the North said it had carried out a "successful test of great significance."
"Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way. He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore," Trump said on Twitter, referring to his first summit with Kim in Singapore in 2018.
"He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November," he said.
The three sailors whose lives were cut short by a gunman at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, on Friday "showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil," said base commander Navy Capt. Tim Kinsella.
Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters were killed in the shooting, the Navy has announced.
The Pentagon’s troop deployment denials means nothing when the White House screams ‘fake news’ all the time
The Pentagon has a credibility problem that is the result of the White House's scorched earth policy against any criticism. As a result, all statements from senior leaders are suspect.
We're beyond the point of defense officials being unable to say for certain whether a dog is a good boy or girl. Now we're at the point where the Pentagon has spent three days trying to knock down a Wall Street Journal story about possible deployments to the Middle East, and they've failed to persuade either the press or Congress.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the United States was considering deploying up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to thwart any potential Iranian attacks. The story made clear that President Trump could ultimately decide to send a smaller number of service members, but defense officials have become fixated on the number 14,000 as if it were the only option on the table.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. – Gen. David Berger, the US Marine Corps commandant, suggested the concerns surrounding a service members' use of questionable Chinese-owned apps like TikTok should be directed against the military's leadership, rather than the individual troops.
Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, on Saturday morning, Berger said the younger generation of troops had a "clearer view" of the technology "than most people give them credit for."
"That said, I'd give us a 'C-minus' or a 'D' in educating the force on the threat of even technology," Berger said. "Because they view it as two pieces of gear, 'I don't see what the big deal is.'"