Tower Locator Blog

otadtv.com Over the Air Digital TV

What It Is and How to Get It

How It Works | DTv Channels | Antenna's

Typical Tower Map Get free TV with just an antenna. Pickup major networks, local stations, and a growing number of entertainment channels. Over 100 TV channels are available near large cities, over 70 channels near mid size cities, and over 30 channels near small cities (top 200 market cities).

How It Works
A Digital Television station will transmit a 3 to 1000 kilowatt signal over the air (OTA) from a broadcast tower antenna typically mounted 300 to 2000 feet above the ground. Broadcast towers are often concentrated within a 10 mile radius near or in a city. Some towers broadcast more than one TV station, each TV station broadcast 1 to 4 or more channels. Reception range varies from about 30 miles or more for low power stations to over 80 miles for full power stations.

TV Broadcast Tower
OTA DTv - is FREE
You need - an Antenna
- a Digital TV
Get - Major Networks
- Local TV Stations
- Entertainment Channels
- and More
Resolution - Ultra High Definition (4k UHD)
- High Definition (HD)
- Standard Definition (SD)
Audio - Multi Channel Surround Sound
- Stereo / Mono
Data - Program Guide
- TV Channel, Callsign, Network
- Closed Caption

Picture Quality
Picture resolution is as good as or better than cable or satellite TV. Cable and satellite operators often compress local channels before re-broadcasting. The compression reduces picture quality. Compressing signals opens up more bandwidth and allows providers to squeeze in more channels nobody watches.

Channels are in High Definition (HD) or Standard Definition (SD), and use the ATSC 1.0 protocol. Televisions that are 4k UHD can also receive Ultra High Definition broadcast using the ATSC 3.0 protocol.

Viewing Devices
Most Digital Televisions have a Digital Tuner for receiving OTA broadcast. Television's that get OTA broadcast will have a coax connector labeled "RF In" or "Antenna". Set Top Digital Tuners are available to connect to your computer / network, or monitor. Analog TV's need a Digital to Analog TV Converter to receive OTA broadcast. See Digital Television's (includes set top tuners and converters) page.

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Digital TV Channels

38-1 Network
Program
1080i Stereo
HD

The early Analog TV stations (1947 to 2009) used their FCC broadcast license RF Channel number as their station TV channel. One TV channel per RF channel. Digital broadcast can contain multiple TV channels in one RF channel and use 2 numbers for TV channel (Station channel - Sub channel), and another number for broadcast RF channel. During the transition from analog to digital most stations changed their RF channel but kept their old analog channel number as station channel.

FCC
RF
-- Federal Communications Commission
-- Radio Frequency

Over the Air TV has two types of channels.
TV Channel
38-1
Station - Sub Channel.
• 1 or more Sub Channels.
• Also called Virtual Channel.
RF Channel
RF 37
• Broadcast Channel.
• Can be from RF 2 - 69.
• FCC Licensed Channel.

Each TV station has 1 or more sub channels (e.g. 38-1, 38-2 etc.). The TV station Channel may or may not be (probably not) the same as the broadcast RF channel.

Antenna's

Your location and antenna are the main factors that determine the number of channels you can get. An indoor antenna will work when relatively close to a broadcast tower, within about 25 miles. Greater distances will require an attic or outside antenna.

Reception Range
Antenna Range
Indoor 25 miles
Outdoor
-- attic mount
-- roof mount
40 miles
> 80 miles

FREQUENCY BAND
A TV station will transmit in either the UHF or VHF frequency band. The VHF band can be sub divided into VHF-Lo and VHF-Hi TV bands. See Television Broadcast Frequencies.

Frequency
Band
RF
Channels
Bandwidth
MHz
UHF 14 - 69 470 - 806
VHF 2 - 13 54 - 216
VHF-Hi
VHF-Lo
RF 7-13
RF 2 - 6
174-216 MHz
54 - 88 MHz

Most stations transmit in the UHF band, and most antenna's are designed to receive UHF signals. Many antennas are designed to get both UHF and VHF signals. In some cases a UHF antenna will receive a VHF signal at reduced power, but still strong enough for reception.

ANTENNA PLACEMENT
Tower Locator Your antenna should be pointed in the general direction of the broadcast towers, and have a relatively clear path in the towers direction. TV signals are Line-of-Sight, large obstructions (hills, building, trees) can reduce or block reception. See Signal Factors.

Find towers in your area and
the direction to point your antenna:
TV BROADCAST TOWER LOCATOR

Outdoor TV Antenna Restrictions Prohibited
Federal Communication Commission (FCC)
Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule;

Rule 47 C.F.R. Section 1.4000


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