Blog
antenna
OTA DTv

Over the Air Digital TV
and How to Get it
OTA DTv

PAGE CONTENTS -- How It Works | Digital Televisions | TV and RF Channels | Antennas | Sitemap

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. The number of Over the Air networks keeps on growing.

How Over-the-Air TV Works
Typical Tower Map

A TV station will transmit up to a 1000 kilowatt signal over the air (OTA) from a broadcast tower. The station's tower antenna is typically mounted 300 to 2000 feet above the ground. Coverage range varies with tower antenna height and power. Range is typically 60 miles or more for full power stations, to around 30 miles for low power stations. Towers are often concentrated in or near a city. Television transmitters are on an FCC licensed RF channel in either the VHF or UHF Frequency Band. Each RF channel contains 1 to 10 or more TV channels. On average an RF channel will contain 5 TV channels.

RF
FCC
VHF
UHF
- Radio Frequency
- Federal Communication Commission
- Very High Frequency
- Ultra High Frequency

BROADCAST TOWER
TV Broadcast Tower
Over Air TV - FREE
You need - Antenna
- Digital Television
Receive - Major Networks
- Local TV Stations
- Entertainment Channels
Resolution - Ultra High Definition (UHD)
- High Definition (HD)
- Standard Definition (SD)
Audio - Multi Channel Surround Sound
- Stereo
- Mono
CC - Closed Caption
Information - TV Channel, Network,
- Program/Guide, Rating
- Resolution, Audio Type
- Signal Strength, RF Channel

HD or UHD Broadcast Signal
Most TV stations broadcast a High Definition (HD), signal. A few stations broadcast an Ultra High Definition (UHD) signal, a UHD TV (4k NextGen) television is required for reception. Stations that broadcast a UHD signal usually simulcast an HD signal on a different RF channel and usually from a different tower.

The FCC wants broadcasters to switch to a UHD 4k Next Gen signal. However, broadcasters have the option to determine when they switch, there is no deadline. A few special interest groups (content providers, advertisers) are encouraging the FCC to mandate a switch by a set date. The UHD standard allows broadcasters to Content Protect Lock (see below) a TV channel. Broadcasters can also track users to varying degrees. Currently the number of UHD broadcast is small, and not growing very fast. There's not much public interest. However, interest in HD television broadcast is growing, especially as streaming prices go up.

Nationwide Broadcast

BROADCAST
SIGNAL
Channels Market
Areas
TV RF
HD 31,000 7100 500
UHD 495 130 87

115 UHD TV channels Content Protected (Lock)
As of June 2024

Sponsored links


Digital Televisions
TV Connector

Televisions that receive over-the-air broadcast will have on the back or side a coax connector labeled RF, Cable/Air, Antenna, or something similar. After connecting an antenna the television will need to be setup for over the air reception.

TELEVISION SETUP
1 -
2 -
3 -
TV MENU
Go to: Channel or Channel Setup
Select: Air or OTA
Select: Scan or Scan for Channels

It may take a minute or more to complete the scan. Sometimes when a TV station adds a new channel your TV will need to be rescanned.

Test Pattern

RECEPTION
All Digital TV's receive a perfect picture or no picture. A signal that is weak but above the TV minimum has the same picture as a strong signal. Signal power that is slightly below the televisions minimum gets a pixilated picture. Just a few decibels (dB's) below the minimum the picture disappears. See TV Minimum Signal .

Remote

REMOTE CONTROLS
Televisions come with either a Full Remote or an On Screen Remote. On Screen remotes have fewer buttons and are used to navigate to all selections using the screen. There are no numbers to go directly to a channel. Some remotes can be voice controlled, the remote has a built-in microphone.

Test Pattern

TELEVISION TYPES
There are 2 basic types of televisions, High Definition (HD) and Ultra High Definition (UHD). A UHD television, also called 4k Next Gen, is required to receive a UHD Broadcast. The television specifications should list the TV System standard.

TV SYSTEM
HD Television
UHD Television
Analog Television
ATSC 1.0
ATSC 3.0
NTSC

HD TELEVISIONS
ATSC 1.0 Receiver
An HD BROADCAST maximum resolution will be either 1080 or 720 ppi (pixels per inch). An HD TELEVISION maximum definition (resolution) will be either 1080 or 720 ppi (HD). The television will adjust the broadcast to fit the screen. Many TV channels are in Standard Definition (SD) 480 ppi.

Smart Televisions
Many HD and all UHD televisions are Smart TV's that can stream Internet video. Many have additional features that can increase security risks. Also see Digital TV / Types / Smart TV page.

UHD 4k NextGen TELEVISIONS
ATSC 3.0 Receiver
These televisions also receive UHD broadcast signals that can have TV channels in 4k Ultra High Definition (2160 ppi). The signal also has enhanced audio and better reception characteristics.

Content Protected TV Channels Lock
Some UHD signals have one or more TV channels that are Content Protected using the Digital Rights Management (DRM) encryption standard. Programs that can be recorded can only be replayed from the DVR / Tuner that recorded it. Broadcasters can prevent recording, or set an expiration date on a recording. They can also Block the viewer from using Pause, Rewind, Fast Forward, and Ad-Skip.

UHD Televisions manufactured after 2022 should have an authorized tuner with a built-in decryption key. An Internet connection is not required. Televisions without a key should, but might not, be able to get a key by downloading (from the Internet) and installing a software update.

Broadcast Internet
A few UHD TV channels require an Internet connection. The TV channel is interactive and gives the user more options. It also allows broadcasters to track users. An over the air signal AND Internet connection are required to get the channel.

Also see Digital TV / Television Types page.

Sponsored links

TV and RF Channels

The early Analog TV stations (1947 to 2009) used their FCC licensed 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.

Broadcast
TV 10-3
Network
RF 36
Over Air

Over the Air TV has 2 types of channels, broadcast RF channel, and displayed TV channel.

RF CHANNEL
The broadcast RF channel is the signal your antenna receives and television processes. The signal will be in either the VHF or UHF frequency band. The signal modulation format will use either the HD or UHD standard. Each RF channel contains 1 to 20 TV channels.

TV CHANNEL
Each TV channel, also called virtual channel, has 2 numbers. The first number is the broadcast station TV channel, followed by a sub channel (e.g. 10-3 or 10.3). In numerous cases an RF channel is shared by another broadcaster and will have a different first (main) TV channel number.

Broadcast Channels Example

Reception
RF channel 36
VHF or UHF
HD or UHD
TV
10-1
TV
10-2
TV
10-3
TV
10-4
TV
45-1
Displayed
TV Channels
10-1 -- Movies / Series
10-2 -- Entertainment
10-3 -- Crime / Court
10-4 -- News
45-1 -- Comedy


Top

Antennas
Tower Locator

An indoor antenna generally works for TV towers within 20 or 25 miles. Obstructions such as hills, structures, and trees will reduce or prevent reception. Outdoor antennas have much greater range, but must be properly installed for best reception. Most antennas are directional and must be pointed in the general direction of the towers. Some antennas come with a built-in or detachable preamp to improve a weak signal. A preamp can be added to any antenna.

When selecting an antenna you need to know;
Tower Information
-- Angle & Range to Towers,
-- Frequency Band,
-- Home Signal Strength.
Antenna Options
-- Indoor or Outdoor Antenna,
-- Frequency Band(s),
-- Range (antenna gain).
Also see; -- Antennas
-- TV TOWER LOCATOR
-- Antenna Installation
-- Amplifiers
-- Signal Factors
-- Steps to Get OTA DTv

OUTDOOR TV ANTENNA RESTRICTIONS PROHIBITED
The FCC prohibits outdoor TV antenna restrictions for mast that are 12 feet or less above the roofline.

FCC Rule 47 C.F.R. Section 1.4000
Prohibits Restrictions that
impair Outdoor TV Antenna
Installation, Use, and Maintenance.
See FCC Website
Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule
Applies to





State and Local Laws and Regulations
-- Zoning, Land-Use, Building Regulations ...
Condominium Restrictions
Cooperative Association Restrictions
Similar Restrictions

Sponsored links

Sitemap Sitemap
Digital TV
• Home Page
Television Types
Networks
FAQ
Reception
Steps to Get It
Signal Factors
Minimum Signal
Hardware
Antennas
Amplifiers
Cables
Installation
Antenna Installation
Multiple Antennas
Find Towers
TV Tower Locator
Lat/Lng Converter
Tech
Frequency
The Decibel (dB) Scale
TV Station Callsigns
Constants / Conversions
Abbreviations
Misc.
Website Calculators
Privacy Policy
2017 Spectrum Auction
St Louis TV Stations
otadtv.com
OTA DTv
Over-the-Air Digital TV
© Copyright 2015-2024, All Rights Reserved
Email: brokerdon3@gmail.com
Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions

Change privacy settings