Confusion over digital aerials

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Digital TV switchover presents some excellent business opportunities for retailers, however, one area that can still cause confusion is aerials, reported Digital UK, the organisation leading digital switchover.

David Harby, head of product, Digital UK, commented to IER: “One of the most common questions is ‘Do I need a digital aerial?’ In fact, there is no such thing as a ‘digital aerial’. Analogue and digital terrestrial TV services are broadcast in the UHF band, and both traditional grouped and wideband aerial types are perfectly capable of receiving them. In some cases, customers wanting Freeview (or BT Vision or TopUpTV where available) prior to switchover in their area will need a wideband aerial. This is because some digital services are broadcast outside the local analogue signal group in order for both to co-exist. 

“After switchover, digital services will move into the frequencies previously occupied by analogue signals, so most existing grouped aerials will work. In the few instances where digital services cannot be placed in the existing aerial group, signals will be placed just outside so that grouped aerials should still be fine.

“Ofcom predicts that 5-10% of roof aerial systems will need replacing for switchover due to poor condition, as substantiated by the Copeland and Selkirk switchovers. An analogue aerial checker on teletext page 284 (484 in Wales) can show if an aerial is in really bad condition. Aerial groups and likely reception at a given location are listed in the Trade View of the Digital UK postcode    checker at www.digitaluk.co.uk.

“Some homes on the fringe of Freeview reception currently using aerial amplifiers will need to remove these after switchover, as the digital signal will be stronger. Half of existing portable set-top aerials will also receive digital services satisfactorily after switchover. The other half will get most of the channels all of the time. If there’s any doubt, customers might best be advised to check reception at switchover rather than replace an aerial unnecessarily before.”

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