No I totally get that and agree. I didn't mean they went to digital because of HD, but simply that they made the decision to go all digital and stuck with it. I also understand the countless SD boxes that DTV has, but again, at some point they need to make the first step. And no matter what, that first step is going to be painful and make a lot of people mad, but it needs to be done sooner than later.
But DirecTV has been digital since the get go
"To go all digital" was in reference to Comcast. In my area when I was originally a Comcast subscriber, they provided their programming in analog. They later moved to digital cable, requiring a receiver for programming. When they moved to digital they ceased their analog feeds.
My point is, as a Comcast customer back then, at first we didn't need a receiver. Plug the cable into the back of an old NTSC cable ready TV and off you went. When they transitioned to digital cable they ran screen crawlers for weeks, called and emailed constantly, and had reminders on each bill that you had 30 days to pick up a receiver for free. After the 30 days you had to pay for the receiver, and if you didn't get a new receiver you would loose all of your channels. Oh yes, chaos and mayhem ensued, as a few hundred thousand customers had to upgrade to the digital receiver - however everyone survived it.
This is something that DIRECTV needs to do, somehow, in order to wean people off of SD. Pick a date, stick with it, and on that date discontinue the SD feeds. Those that cry and refuse to move into the 21st Century will just have to cancel their service. A good first step would be to stop offering SD receivers to new customers. The longer they provide new SD receivers the more they are adding to the total number of SD receivers still in use.
Here's a good way to transition in 3 years:
1) Stop sales of all SD equipment. All new customers receive ONLY an HD receiver.
2) Implement a 3 year program that all customers that renew their contracts MUST upgrade to an HD receiver. Do this at a discounted (or free) price. The Genie is free to new customers, no reason they can't do it with renewals.
3) After 2 years of ceasing the sales of SD equipment, send notices to all remaining SD customers (and non-contract customers) that they need to upgrade to HD equipment in order to continue to receive service.
4) During the final year continue to remind customers they need to upgrade their equipment.
5) On the date 3 years after step one, deactivate all SD receivers but leave the feeds active. When SD customers start calling in to report they've lost programming, schedule a receiver swap and reactivate their SD receiver for 60 days until the new HD receiver can be installed. At this point - because of 3 years of warning the switch was coming - the customer must now pay for the new equipment. If they don't want to, they can cancel.
6) At 60 days past the cut off date, cease transmission of SD feeds. Anyone else that calls to complain of loss of programming will be directed to customer retention where they can either cancel or buy new equipment.
Done. All SD is gone. For the birds that still have lifetime left in their service, they can now be used to expand HD programming or support more local programming such as OTA subchannels.
Of course I'm sure there's a lot about the technical or financial implications in my plan above that I don't fully understand. But at least it's a better plan that continuing to waste bandwidth on SD duplicates of programming.