Residents of Wilmington, N.C., soon will become laboratory rats in the nation’s transition to digital TV, reports USA Today. The Federal Communications Commission plans to make the greater Wilmington area a digital-TV test market to work out any bugs before the entire nation goes all digital on Feb. 17. All four commercial broadcasters in the Wilmington region–with a population of about 400,000–have agreed to turn off their analog signals and broadcast in digital only starting Sept. 8. The switch will be preceded by an intensive consumer-education campaign, including TV and radio ads. "This will help us understand what we need to do to prepare the rest of the country," FCC Chairman Kevin Martin says. The biggest concern is the roughly 60 million analog sets that aren’t hooked to cable or satellite. Those include about 18 million homes that don’t have pay TV, as well as second or third TVs in cable and satellite homes. They won’t work without a box to convert digital signals to analog. Households may request from the U.S. government up to two $40 coupons to help pay for the boxes, which cost about $50 each…

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