Answers to the most common questions about free over the air broadcast television.
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 ?
Nothing, TV broadcast signals are, and always have been, free for anyone to receive. No monthly fees !
Does not account for rate increases.
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.
How many channels are available ?
It depends on where you live for channel availability. Over 100 TV channels are available near large cities, over 70 channels near mid size cities, and over 30 channels near small cities See Tower Locater.
Can my HD television get UHD (4k) broadcast ?
What is UHD (4k) TV ?
UHD (4k) broadcast has 2 to 3 times higher resolution than HD TV (see Television Specifications.). It also has enhanced audio and better reception. Some UHD broadcast have an optional internet connection for additional content in real time. A few UHD broadcast are encrypted and require an Internet connection to get a decryption key.
An Internet connection allows broadcasters to monitor what and when you watch.
HD televisions cannot receive over-the-air UHD broadcast, a UHD television is required. Most TV stations that broadcast a UHD signal will also simulcast an HD signal for HD televisions. UHD broadcast are few and not growing very fast.
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 high gain 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 Cables and Signal Loss.
What are the frequencies of broadcast TV ?
Frequently Asked Questions