Here is a quick guide to help you understand how to watch television without a cable box.
After the Digital Television Transition ( DTV transition) that occurred back in February of 2009 non-cable subscribers were required to buy digital to analog TV converter boxes. After February 17, 2009, television stations stopped broadcasting over analog airwaves so only digital broadcasting is available. If you’ve recently cut costs by getting rid of cable, here is a quick guide to help you understand the technology and how to watch TV without a cable box.
Analog vs Digital
Are you confused about the difference between analog and digital TV? In short, digital signals are sent out as numbers, 0s and 1s, bits of information like a computer, whereas analog signals are a continuous stream of information being transmitted.
Think of a digital clock that displays numbers versus a wall clock that “demonstrates” the time with a continuously moving arm. If a digital alarm clock is broken, it’s off, you can’t see anything. But if wall clock breaks, you can still see the hands and numbers. An analog television signal comes through an antenna or “rabbit ears” whereas a digital signal comes through a tiny “computer” (like a cable box or digital to analog TV converter box).
Why are They Doing It?
The main reason given for the digital transition is that freeing up the analog airwaves allows emergency responders to communicate more effectively. The only visuals on analog TV will probably be emergency communications from your local police and fire department. Also, broadcasters went over to digital transmissions because they believe it is more useful to consumers. It is also seen as a more efficient way to transmit television waves.
And of course many people speculate that the transition happened because of money. A number of companies made money from the digital conversion (cable companies, retailers, sellers of digital to analog TV converter boxes and electronics manufacturers).
What You Need in Order to See Basic TV Stations
If you already have a digital cable account with your local cable or satellite television company, you do not need to do anything. You should have a box that allows you to receive these basic stations. If you do not have cable or satellite TV you can buy a digital to analog TV converter.
The digital converters, which are available at most major electronics retailers, are available for about $40.
And if you have a pair of old “rabbit ears” antennas in your basement, you might have to dust them off! Once you have your digital to analog TV converter box you will need to hook it up to the antenna in order to get a strong signal. You will be given clear directions with the digital converter box.
So even if you have decided to get rid of your cable subscription to cut costs, you should still be able to watch TV without a cable box. Just make that one time purchase of a digital converter box and continue to enjoy your shows on network television as usual.
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