“Infrastructure” the very word sounds somehow stout, sturdy, stable. “Plastic,” says Doc Searls:
The term “infrastructure” suggests physicality of the sturdiest kind, but in fact all of it is doomed to alteration, obsolescence and replacement. Some of it (Roman roads, for example) may last for centuries, but most of it is obsolete in a matter of decades, if not sooner. Consider over-the-air (OTA) TV. It is already a fossil. Numbered channels persist as station brands; but today very few of those stations transmit on their branded analog channels, and most of them are viewed over cable or satellite connections anyway. There are no reasons other than legacy regulatory ones to maintain the fiction that TV station locality is a matter of transmitter siting and signal range. Viewing of OTA TV signals is headed fast toward zero. It doesn’t help that digital signals play hard-to-get, and that the gear required for getting it sucks rocks. Nor does it help that cable and satellite providers that have gone out of their way to exclude OTA receiving circuitry from their latest gear, mostly [to] force subscribing to channels that used to be free. As a result ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and PBS are now a premium pay TV package. (For an example of how screwed this is, see here.) Among the biggest fossils are thousands of TV towers, some more than 2000 feet high, maintained to continue reifying the concept of “coverage,” and to legitimize “must carry” rules for cable. After live audio stream playing on mobile devices becomes cheap and easy, watch AM and FM radio transmission fossilize in exactly the same ways.
I note for reference that of the thirteen full-power TV stations licensed to somewhere within the Oklahoma City market, only two are broadcasting on the channel they say they are: KWTV (9) and KETA (13). (In Tulsa, it’s two out of twelve, including, yes, the OETA station.)
So should we dismantle the antenna farm? Searls says yes:
[I]f you want to do something green and good for the environment, lobby for taking down some of these towers, which are expensive to maintain and hazards to anything that flies. Start with this list here. Note the “UHF/VHF transmission” column. Nearly all these towers were built for analog transmission and many are already abandoned.
I checked two of the taller ones in the state, KWTV’s in northeast Oklahoma City and KTUL’s in Coweta, and they’re apparently still in use, digital notwithstanding. Doesn’t mean they’ll stay in use indefinitely, though.