The Big Switch: The Antenna is Back
Will I still need an antenna to receive DTV over-the-air?
Yes, you will still need an antenna to continue watching free, over-the-air television after the digital transition. In general, the same type of antenna that gives you good quality analog TV signals now will also provide reliable DTV reception. After February 17, 2009, some television stations will be moving to a different channel in a different frequency band, which may require you to get another type of antenna from the one you are using. To help determine which outdoor antenna is best for you, visit http://www.antennaweb.org .
I don't have an antenna. Will I still get reception after the transition?
Antennas can be either indoor or outdoor. If you live in a home or apartment building, there may be an antenna on the roof or a master antenna distribution system to the building residents. If you subscribe to a cable or satellite service, then nothing will change after February 17, 2009, and you will continue getting reception as usual. However, if you don't subscribe to a pay TV service, then you are actually using an antenna but may not know it.
Do I need to buy a new antenna?
After February 17, 2009, some television stations will be moving to a different channel in a different frequency band, which may require you to get another type of antenna from the one you use now. For example, some channels in the VHF band (Channels 2-13) may move to the UHF band (Channels 14-51) and vice versa. Receiving VHF and UHF signals require different types of antenna elements. Many antennas are designed as combo units and will receive both VHF and UHF signals.
What do VHF and UHF stand for?
The Very High Frequency (VHF) band is the segment of the television broadcast band covering channels 2 through 13. The Ultra High Frequency (UHF) band is the segment of the television broadcast band covering channels 14 through 69.
Are all digital stations on UHF channels?
Currently, the vast majority of TV stations broadcasting in digital are using UHF (14 and up) channels to do so. However, this is not due to any technical requirement of digital broadcasting. It is because the UHF channels were more likely to be available in most television markets. When the digital transition is completed and TV stations no longer broadcast in analog, a significant number of stations plan to switch and use their current analog VHF channels for digital instead.
If most stations are using UHF channels for their digital programming, do I need a UHF-only antenna?
There are antennas that can only receive UHF stations and ones that receive both UHF and VHF signals. If you are fairly certain you won't want to get any lower channels in the VHF channel 2-13 range, you could purchase a UHF-only antenna. To find the right outdoor antenna for you, visit http://www.antennaweb.org , which will also tell you the channels being used in your area before and after the DTV transition date.