From 1956 until the recent past, analog television predominated in Australia. In 2008, Australia began the process of switching over from analog to digital TV. By 2013, analog TV is scheduled to be completely phased out. Are you digital ready? While many Australians already have digital set top boxes or new digital TVs, not everyone is aware of the importance of their antenna. This guide to digital TV antennas is not designed to replace the need for professional antenna installation, but rather to help you understand what your antenna supplier and installer
is talking about when he suggests a digital TV antenna for your home or notices another problem that needs addressing.
Why Buy a Digital TV Antenna?
Every antenna is designed to pick up broadcast signals that pass through the atmosphere. Analog signals are quite different from digital signals and although you may get digital TV reception from your old analog antenna, the quality and reliability of the reception is probably not going to be as good as it would be if you had a digital TV antenna. Australian broadcasters began the process of switching from analog to digital transmission technology as far back as 2001. At that time, no one noticed any difference in their television reception because the frequency bands they transmitted in remained unchanged. However, digital television offers a far wider range of frequencies and as more channel offerings arise, greater reception problems occur.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to buy a special type of antenna to get good digital reception, you just need to have an antenna that is new enough or configured correctly for your circumstances. If you live in a remote area or an area where signals are frequently blocked, you may also need to have a signal amplifier installed.
Types of Digital TV Antennas
Have you ever noticed that TV antennas come in different shapes? This is because the shape, or configuration of an antenna helps maximise its ability to pick up frequency bands. In order to get good digital reception, your antenna needs to be able to pick up both VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency) transmission signals. If you get adequate reception on one of these frequency ranges, but not on the other, you will get good reception on some television channels and poor reception on others.
Currently, you may find that you are getting adequate reception on all available channels, but this is likely to change when the switch from analog to digital is complete in 2013. Right now, both analog and digital signals are being transmitted, but this is for the convenience of the public through the transition phase. It is not an efficient way to transmit and prevents broadcasters from adding many new free-to-air and paid services, such as:
- New television networks
- Public broadcasting services
- Interactive features
- Data casting services
When the transition is complete and analog transmission is entirely phased out, you may find that you will need to replace your antenna.
Your Digital TV System
Your digital television reception begins at your antenna, but it doesn't end until the TV image and sound reach your eyes and ears. In between, the television signal has to pass through a network of cables and devices, each of which does its part in giving you good or poor image and sound quality. Your cable plays a more important part than you may imagine and if you are getting poor reception, it may be because your cable is unable to effectively carry the digital signal. If you find that you get poor reception periodically and particularly poor reception when you are running an electrical appliance, the problem may be due to "impulse noise." This is particularly a problem with antennas with widely spaced elements and on VHF channels.
As you can see, choosing a digital TV antenna is not simply a matter of going out and buying a new one. The right TV antenna is required and it must be correctly installed. If you have more than one TV, you may also need to have digital TV antenna points
professionally installed in order to ensure that all your televisions get equally good reception and don't interfere with each other. Leave it to the professionals and your transition to the digital age will be a smooth and satisfying one.