Two weeks ago, many local broadcasters participated in a “soft test” to help residents gauge whether or not they are ready for the nationwide digital television (DTV) transition on June 12.

A “soft test” simulates to some extent what unprepared viewers will experience when the DTV transition occurs. Instead of completely cutting off the analog signal, during the soft test broadcasters interrupted the regular programming May 21 of viewers receiving analog signals to warn them that they are not prepared for the transition. Such viewers - other than those connected to a subscription TV service such as cable or satellite (which in some cases still utilize a broadcaster’s analog signal) - must take immediate action to avoid a complete loss of service on June 12.

Nielsen estimates that as of May 10, 6.67 percent of households in Dallas-Fort Worth were not ready for the DTV transition. The organization estimates that about 492,380 households (or 19.8 percent of that media market) rely entirely on over-the-air broadcasts.

Nationwide, Nielsen estimates that about 3.3 million households - 2.9 percent of U.S. households with TVs - remained unready for the transition as of May 10. The Federal

Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information

Administration have together identified Dallas-Fort Worth as one of the DTV transition “hotspot” markets, where a variety of factors indicate a significant number of households are currently unprepared for the transition. In the few weeks remaining before the transition, the FCC is gearing up its ongoing consumer assistance efforts in Dallas-Fort Worth and other markets to ensure consumers are prepared for the end of analog broadcast service for full-power television stations.

But if your household was caught unprepared, it’s not too late. Consumers still have until July 31 to get coupons for a converter box by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC.

The FCC estimates that 1,679,961 people in the DFW area have ordered coupons for their converter boxes, and only 903,747 have been redeemed as of May 6. However, it is important to remember the coupons do expire.

“The soft test is a wake-up call to consumers telling them that the time to get ready for the DTV transition is now,” said Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps. “We don’t want anyone to be left without the news, information and entertainment they need and enjoy. If you’re having trouble getting ready, you can get help right in your community and even in your own home by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC.”

Information about DTV transition assistance in your local area will be updated regularly on www.dtv.gov and include details about walk-in centers, events where consumers can get technical help and free in-home installation.

On June 12, all full-power television stations in the United States will stop analog broadcast service and transmit only digital signals. Consumers who do not subscribe to pay television services and have older, analog televisions will need to attach digital-to-analog converter boxes to their televisions in order to continue receiving over-the-air television programming.

The switch to digital will reward most viewers with better sound, a better picture, more channels and more programs. The transition will also help save lives by clearing airwaves for better first-responder radio service. And it makes room for the future by clearing airwaves for advanced mobile Internet services.