DTv Frequently Asked Questions
What is Broadcast Television ?
It is the transmission of TV signals over public air waves, and has been around since 1947.
The first TV transmissions used an analog format, in 2009 virtually all TV broadcast switched to a digital format (DTv).
How much does broadcast TV cost ?
Does not account for rate increases.
Nothing, TV broadcast signals are, and always have been, free for anyone to receive. No monthly fees !
What do I need to watch free broadcast TV ?
All you need is an antenna, and a digital television that has a digital tuner (most do). You can also use a stand alone Digital TV Tuner connected to your computer or router to watch free TV on your home network devices. Analog TV's required a Digital to Analog Converter, sometimes called a digital converter. Also see Watching DTv on the Home page.
How many channels are available ?
It depends on where you live for channel availability. In almost all cases there are many more digital channels available than there use to be analog channels. See Tower Locater.
Is broadcast TV in High Definition (HD) ?
Most major networks, many smaller networks, and some individual stations, broadcast are in HD. Digital Standard Definition channels are also common. See HD Fundamentals.
How does the picture compare to cable or satellite TV ?
Broadcast TV picture quality is as good as or better than cable or satellite. Cable and satellite operators often compress local broadcast channels before re-broadcasting. The compression reduces picture quality compared to over-the-air broadcast. Compressing signals opens up more bandwidth and allows providers to squeeze in more channels nobody watches.
What's the difference between an analog and digital antenna ?
Nothing, except the name. Digital and analog TV signals both use the same carrier frequencies, carrier modulation (digital or analog signal) does not effect antenna reception.
What type of antenna do I need ?
An indoor antenna usually works well for receiving stations less than 20 or 25 miles. Many indoor antennas come with a preamp to improve reception.
An attic or outdoor antenna is usually needed for stations greater than 25 miles, or unavoidable loss factors from terrain or obstructions.
Does an attic antenna need to be grounded ?
No. However, when an indoor antenna cable is longer than 30 feet, some people ground the antenna/mast because it might help reduce static electricity build up which reduces reception.
Does an outside antenna need to be grounded ?
If I need an amplifier, what should I use ?
Preamplifiers or preamps are low noise amplifiers (amplifies signal but not noise) that mount to (or close to) an indoor or outdoor antenna to improve a weak signal.
A booster amp is relatively high gain and used to overcome long cable runs.
A distribution amp has multiple outputs, low to moderate gain, and is used to route the signal to multiple outlets.
- Also see Amplifiers.
Do cables effect reception ?
Yes, the longer the cable the greater the signal loss. Additionally, signal splitters cut the signal strength in half, or more. Long cable runs, and especially signal splitters, can mean the difference between getting and not getting a channel. See TV Coax Cable Systems and Signal Loss.
What are the frequencies of broadcast TV ?
Over-the-Air Digital TV (OTA DTv)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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