Tower Locator Blog

Over the Air Digital TV (OTA DTv)

Contents -- Description | Digital TV Channels | Antenna's

Get free TV with just an antenna. Pickup major networks, local stations, and a growing number of entertainment channels.

OTA DTv is FREE - it's completely legal,
- mandated by Federal law.
All you need is - an Antenna,
- a TV with a digital tuner*.
Get - Entertainment Channels**
- Local TV Stations
- Major Networks
- Religious channels
- Shopping networks
- Spanish broadcast
Resolution*** - 4k / Ultra High Definition (UHD)
- High Definition (HD)
- Standard Definition (SD)
Audio - Surround Sound
- Stereo
- Mono
Information - Program Guide
- TV Channel, callsign, network
- RF Channel
CC - Closed Caption
* Most televisions have a digital tuner (ATSC). Digital Tuners are also available to connect to your analog TV, monitor, or computer / network.
** Entertainment channels include Movies, Series, Sports, Cultural, Family, Lifestyles, News / Information, Music Videos.
*** Picture quality is better than cable or satellite TV. Cable and satellite operators often compress local 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.
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Digital TV Channels
TV and RF channels

Analog TV stations used their FCC* assigned radio frequency (RF) broadcast channel as their channel number. One TV station per RF channel. Digital broadcast can contain multipleTV stations in one RF channel and use 2 numbers for station identification, and another number for RF channel (not usually displayed).

Over the Air Digital TV has a;

Displayed Channel -- TV station channel ( #.# ),
e.g. 37.1 or 37-1
Main Channel,
dot or dash,
sub channel.
Broadcast Channel -- FCC Radio Frequency (RF) channel.
Not usually displayed, but is in the menu.

The broadcast RF channel may or may not be the same as the station identification channel. In most cases they are different. During the transition from analog to digital most stations changed their RF channel but kept their old analog channel number (Main Channel) for station identification (display).

* FCC -- Federal Communications Commission


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 relatively large city. Rural areas will require a roof antenna.

Typical Reception Range
Indoor Antenna 15 - 20 miles
Outdoor Antenna
-- attic mount
-- roof mount
25 - 35 miles
35 - 50+ miles

You need to know TV tower locations for pointing your antenna. Also see Antenna's and Signal Factors.

UHF Antenna

You also need to know the the frequency band(s) you want to receive. RF channels 2 - 13 require a VHF antenna for reception. RF channels 14 and above require a UHF antenna. Most stations broadcast in the UHF band. Also see tower locations (to find Broadcast RF Band) and Antenna Bands.

In many cases a UHF antenna will receive a VHF signal at reduced power, but still strong enough for reception.

There is no difference between a digital antenna and an analog antenna, except the name. Digital and analog TV signals both use the same carrier frequencies (VHF or UHF band), carrier modulation (digital or analog) does not effect antenna reception.

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