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Do We Need Cable TV With Today's Technology?

Can We Watch Free Digital TV?

So your cable company just completed it's promise of digitally encrypting the normal local TV broadcasts it sends through Cable. This is the Free over the air signals that the cable companies retransmit. Not to worry, you are in luck. We look for some alternatives to save money and keep watching Free TV. Also another option for your second home TV entertainment needs. But first let's get a quick primer on cable TV’s humble beginnings.

I grew up in southern California in the mid sixties. Most of California is hills and valleys. This make for lousy TV reception. The most visible landmarks in the area were the very tall antennas on the homes. Most even had a method of rotating the antenna for best reception and eliminating ghosting caused by reflected signals that were out of phase with the original signal or snow.

A concept was put forth to deliver the Television signals. This was back in 1948 with commercial subscriptions beginning in 1949. It was slow to catch on. With it's deregulation in 1972 cable became more popular. The idea of not seeing those large unsightly antennas on the roof, was nice by what appeared to be a cheap solution. (about $6 a month)

Fast forward to 2014. The Cable TV business is a multibillion dollar industry and the low cost of cable has skyrocketed to approximately $60 dollars a month for basic service. Don't get me started on the taxes for this product. A typical cable bill could easily exceed $100 to $300 dollars a month depending on the options you subscribe to. Let's not forget the Monopoly these companies have over us. Yes, Satellite reception is one choice but one that is priced comparable to cable and now AT&T wants to merge with Direct TV. Soon more options will disappear...

Enter Digital Television. With the old analog system of transmission Television signals, the signal was subject to all forms of degradation from ghosting to snow. Digital TV (DTV) set out to solve this problem. There are 4 standards for DTV. Advanced Television System Committee (ATSC) uses eight-level vestigial sideband (8VSB) for terrestrial broadcasting. This means that each station can have up to 8 sub channels for programming. With DTV the prospect of poor reception is virtually non-existent. With either all or no reception. With the one exception of pixelization during storms.

Since we no longer have just three major networks (ABC, NBC & CBS). We have added a few more to the mix along with the independent stations on air. You can quickly see that with 6 or 7 stations and each on able to transmit 6-8 channels you can quickly get 50 plus stations. So now the question is do you have to continue to pay for TV or do we cut the cord so to speak?

So, how do you receive DTV? Well, the simple answer is with an antenna. Initially,  I just hooked up an old pair of rabbit ears like the RCA Basic Indoor Antenna  and got 55 channels immediately. However, sometimes couple of the channels were getting a weak reception and pixelated images or not signal. Therefore, I decided to get an HDTV Antenna  like the Esky® HG-981 Waterproof Remote Control HDTV Outdoor Antenna UHF VHF 360 Degree Rotation which you can get priced below $40. I did installed it outside on the roof attaching it to the chimney wall using Channel Master CM-3080 Antenna Chimney Mount, 1 Pair with an antenna pole from the local hardware store (see above picture). Instead of the regular pole installation, you could consider Boostwaves Premium Universal 20-Inch J Pole with Mounting Hardware for HDTV OTA Antennas / Satellite Dish Easy Roof / Wall Installation. Even that I did't gain more channels, their reception got improved providing a better visual clarity. Also, its remote control feature is very convenient to rotate the direction of the antenna from your TV room. You may be able to get even more free TV channels depending of your location. 

CLICK HERE to see HDTV channels available in your area (USA).

A major name brand antenna could cost as much as $100-$200 or more... plus installation. It's not all that difficult as the cable companies would have you believe. Since this is a one time investment, you could be saving $$$ in the long run. Plus with Internet TV your choices are even more robust.

Well, the panic over the loss of Free TV is gone and you now should receive lots of  more TV channels than before including 1080p channels. Before the use of the antenna you probably were receiving channels in 480p and now they are 1080p, Wow! What a difference. Enjoy your Free TV Channels.

 

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