Unfortunately it will still be a while for the Burlington-Plattsburgh area to have HDTV. It's a long story and it pi$$es me off probably a lot more than you. Here's how it goes.
The stations have all agreed that the best thing to do would be to have all the transmitters at the same place so that people wouldn't have to rotate their antenna when they change channels (as is the case now with some stations on the VT side (WCAX, WVNY, WETK) and some on the NY side (WPTZ, WFFF, WCFE). The site that was agreed upon as the best was the top of Mount Mansfield, VT since it is the highest mountain in the state and would give the best reach.
Annoyingly, stupid environmental fanatics backed by the state have been trying to prevent them from building the required new facilities/transmitters on the mountain because it will have an impact on the scenery and birds will get stuck in the towers and a bunch of other nonsense. Because of this, we are about a year and a half past the deadline to have DTV and we still have nothing.
This summer (2003), I spoke with Peter Martin, the General Manager for CBS affiliate WCAX Burlington (the most anxious station to go digital) to ask him what was going on. He told me that they seemed to have gotten most of the problems out of the way. Only a few minor negotiations remained but the green light should shortly be here. However, it is too late to start constructing now since it takes a long time and they wouldn't be able to finish it by the time the winter arrives. We then have to wait for construction to begin in the spring of 2004. If everything goes well, they would be setting-up stuff during the winter and hopefully testing in the spring of 2005 to (fingers-crossed) be ON THE AIR in digital (channel 53) by Fall 2005! There doesn't seem to be any way to be on before that
. This is just for WCAX though. I'm not too sure about other stations...
I also recently spoke to the manager of WVNY about their digital plans, which included their request to broadcast on channel 13 (VHF band), which I object to. They claim that their signal will be able to reach more in the VHF than the UHF. I'm a bit skeptical about this. I live on the south shore of Montreal and find that current analog signals on the UHF band (22, 33, 44, 57) are coming in very well, especially 22 which transmits from Mt. Mansfield. However, it is almost impossible to pull in the stations in VHF (3, 5) from where I'm at. One possibility is that 3 and 5 use low-powered transmitters that don't properly reach into Quebec. I hope that I won't have problems getting WVNY-DT on channel 13. I also find it annoying since I wanted to get a strong UHF only antenna so that I wouldn't get interference from strong Montreal VHF stations such as 12. (Note: All other digital stations will be UHF). I don't care about Canadian networks! Anyhow, the WVNY manager told me that it will probably be three years (Fall 2006)!!! before they're on digital. He called WCAX's plans "unrealistic" and "overly optimistic". I hope it's not the case since that would leave only a few months before it would be time to shut down analog. I doubt that 85% of viewers will get DTV tuners in such little time...
To answer your question once again, it appears the earliest will be the fall of 2005. However, there could be some interesting testing going on in the winter or spring of 2005.
It's a real shame that we will be the last people getting OTA digital TV in the country because of moronic Vermont environmentalists.