How to get HDTV for free

You can get HDTV for FREE
You DO NOT need cable or satellite to get HDTV for FREE

All you need is an Antenna and an HDTV set
 (or your old Analog TV and a Converter Box)

 Click below to find out more answers to your DTV questions


Can I get WCTI-Digital Where I live?
To find out if you are in our signal area, click here.

 Where can I get more links to information?
A local Forum ===>  AVS Forum for Eastern North Carolina Market

What is the Digital Difference?
There are two digital broadcast formats... standard definition and high definition. Standard definition (SDTV) television is similar to the quality of today's analog (NTSC) television picture. High-definition (HDTV) television is a new format for broadcasting TV programming with increased resolution.

What Digital Channels are currently being broadcast?
Here are the channels that WCTI NewsChannel12 and FOX Eastern Carolina are broadcasting:
     12-1 --> WCTI-TV12 & ABC                      HDTV
--> LiveWell Network                   SDTV only
     12-3--> ENC-TV  (Movies! Network)   SDTV only

     14-1 --> WYDO - FOX Eastern Carolina      HDTV
--> Bounce Network                  SDTV only

      8-1 --> WFXI - FOX Eastern Carolina        HDTV
--> Bounce Network                   SDTV only

Do I need a new television set to watch HDTV?
Yes. You must have a high-definition tuner and monitor to properly decode HDTV signals and display them accurately.  Some sets sold in stores today are HDTV monitors and lack the digital receiver necessary to receive HDTV over the air.  Separate set top receivers are available at many electronic stores.

Where and how much are these TV's?
You can buy new HDTV sets at most electronics stores. Just like any cutting-edge electronic equipment, the early equipment was expensive. When HDTV sets came on the market, they cost as much as $8,000. In a short amount of time, prices have dropped to below $1,000.  Most large electronic stores like Furniture Fair, Circuit City, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart carry them.

 What is The Difference Between An HDTV Monitor And An  HDTV Ready Receiver:
An HDTV Receiver is able to receive all digital formats and display them in super-high resolution on a wider screen than analog TV. 

An HDTV monitor is designed to receive digital signals when combined with a separate digital receiver.

What do I need to receive HDTV?
In most areas, HDTV is easily available as an over-the-air broadcast signal.  This requires the use, in most cases, of an outdoor or amplified indoor antenna pointed in the direction of the broadcaster's tower. You will also need a new HDTV receiver that can decode the digital signals. HDTV channels are typically different than your cable or over-the-air channel. TV12's HDTV Transmitter is located in Trenton. Many will have to "go back" to a traditional outside UHF television antenna to receive the over-the-air (OTA) HDTV signal. Your antenna rotor setting for reception of HDTV signals will be easy to adjust. You either have a picture or you do not -- there cannot be a snowy image with digital technology. There also will not be any "fringe area" reception.

What's different about HDTV versus the existing signals?
The HDTV signal is digital resulting in crystal clear, noise-free pictures and CD quality sound. For the technophile, there are about 20 megabits per second of information per broadcast channel. HDTV has many viewer benefits.
Benefit: Aspect Ratio
Most televisions today are manufactured in a 4 by 3 aspect ratio, which means the screen is 4 units wide by 3 units high. But theatrically released movies are usually in a much wider aspect, taking advantage of the human field of vision (which is wider across horizontally). HDTV signals are sent in a 16 by 9 aspect ratio, mimicking the wide scope of movies. HDTV's aspect ratio makes for a more impressive and intense viewing experience.

Benefit: Picture Resolution
Resolution is a measure of picture sharpness. Current analog television contains about 480 active scanning lines resulting in a picture with about 330 lines of resolution. By comparison today's VHS VCR's have about 240 lines of resolution, which is why VHS recordings don't look as sharp as the original picture. DVD's offer higher resolution typically on the order of 400-480 lines of resolution. (Note the number of scanning lines does not equal resolution. For example, both the VHS and DVD formats have 480 active scanning lines but have different resolutions.) HDTV offers resolution that is at least twice that of analog television.  HDTV pictures are created by scanning 1,080 lines. Adding twice the amount of lines multiplies the amount of pixels (the small dots that create the picture).  Current sets have about 300,000 pixels, while the HDTV screen is composed of more than 2 million pixels.

I have heard that there are two HDTV formats — 720p and 1080i. Is there a difference between these formats and can my television receive both these formats?
Regardless of the HDTV format being broadcast, all new HDTV receivers can receive both formats. New HDTV televisions will convert any received signal to a format that is compatible with your new display. The 720p format uses progressive scanning, which is just like your computer monitor. Progressive scan offers crystal clear images that virtually eliminates those scanning lines that are visible on most large screen televisions. NewsChannel12 & FOX Eastern Carolina broadcasts all of its programming using the 720p format. Many new flat panel displays use progressive scan.

The 1080i format uses interlace scanning just like today's analog televisions. Scanning lines are less visible on big screens due to the number of lines. Most currently available projection HDTV's use 1080i.

Benefit: Digital Sound
Just as your CDs sound better than your old audiocassette tapes, HDTV's digital audio signal sounds better than standard television's analog sound. Also, some HDTV programs include Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. Properly decoded, each audio track can be sent to a different speaker, creating a three-dimensional sound field in your living room. Many of ABC's prime time programs contain Dolby Digital surround sound for your listening pleasure.

What About My VCR, DVD Player And Camcorder? Will I Be Able To Use Them With An HDTV Set?
HDTV sets are "backward compatible," meaning all existing analog equipment (VCRs, DVD players, camcorders, video games, etc.) will work on digital TV sets, but not in high definition. Their video will be displayed in the maximum resolution that each product is capable of.

HDTV & DTV Compression:
Broadcasters have to squeeze the increased picture detail and higher quality surround sound into the same 6-megahertz (MHz) bandwidth used by analog television. Compression software, very similar to what is used in personal computing, allows this to happen.

Digital TV relies on a compression and encoding scheme known as MPEG-2 to fit its stunning images into a reasonable amount of bandwidth. In each image, the MPEG-2 software records just enough of the picture without making it look like something is missing. In subsequent frames, the software only records changes to the image and leaves the rest of the image as-is from the previous frame. MPEG-2 reduces the amount of data by about 55 to 1.

MPEG-2 already is the industry standard for DVD videos and some of the satellite TV broadcast systems. Compression reduces image quality from what is seen by the digital camera at the studio. However, MPEG-2 is very good at throwing away image detail that the human eye ignores anyway. The quality of the image is very good, and significantly better than traditional analog TV.

The use of MPEG-2 permits an HDTV receiver to interact with computer multimedia applications directly. For example, an HDTV show could be recorded on a multimedia computer, and CD-ROM applications could be played on HDTV systems. A digital TV decodes the MPEG-2 signal and displays it just as a computer monitor does, giving it high resolution and stability.

What do the terms "low band' and "high band" mean when referring to TV signals?
Low band refers to the VHF channels 2 through 6.  High band refers to VHF channels 7 through 13. 

What are the VHF and UHF bands, and what do VHF and UHF stand for?
The VHF band is the segment of the television broadcast band covering channels 2 through 13.  The UHF band is the segment of the television broadcast band covering channels 14 through 83.  VHF stands for Very High Frequency and UHF stands for Ultra High Frequency.

What is datacasting?
Datacasting is the use of digital television bitstreams to send data packets in place of television.  An 8VSB terrestrial broadcast signal sends up to 19.4 Mbps of data directly to the receiver.  A standard DTV program requires only 4-5 Mbps of data for DVD quality television.  This leaves about 15 Mpbs of unassigned bandwidth available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from 8VSB broadcast stations. 

Datacasting provides data at high speed, utilizing wireless transmission in point-to-multipoint (one message sent through a network multiple times for each user) mode rather than the Internet's point-to-point transmission.  Point-to-multipoint allows all recipients to receive the signal at its highest quality.

Does the height of the antenna make a big difference in terms of good TV reception?
Yes, it does.  In most cases, the higher the antenna, the better your TV reception. This is the case because the higher the antenna, the stronger the signal you will receive.  In general, doubling the height of the antenna off the ground roughly doubles the strength of the signal.  Greater antenna height also improves the chances of clearing surrounding obstructions such as trees, hills or buildings. 

What are the most common factors that determine the strength of a TV broadcast signal? 

1.  Distance from the transmitter.  The farther you are from the transmitter, the weaker the picture and sound quality you can expect to receive, and the larger and more powerful antenna you need.   

2.  The intervening terrain.  Unlike AM radio signals, TV signals are line-of-site and don't follow the curvature of the earth.  This means that obstructions such as hills, trees and buildings between the transmitter and the receiving antenna can block the signal entirely or reflect the signal into the antenna twice (ghosting).   

3.  The type and size of the receiving antenna.  The closer you are located to a transmitter, the less need you have for a large antenna.  The farther you are away from the transmitter, the less signal there is available, and the larger antenna you need to capture what is available. NewsChannel12 and FOX Eastern Carolina's Transmitter are located in Trenton.

 4.  Amount of signal loss in your system.  In every antenna system there is some signal loss.  This is generally due to downlead cables and splitters. Take this into account  if you plan to hook up your antenna to multiple TV sets.  

I'm thinking of installing an antenna in my attic.  Are there special installation or reception concerns that I should be aware of? 

There are several installation and reception issues that you will need to consider if you decide to install an antenna in your attic.

  • First, be aware that installing an antenna in an attic means an automatic reduction of signal strength by at least 45 to 50%.  This means you may need to purchase an amplifier and/or a larger antenna than you might need if installation was planned for the rooftop. 
  • Second, consider the type of material your house is insulated, roofed and sided with.  If your house has aluminum siding or metal foil-backed insulation, or has a metal roof, and any of these materials comes between the antenna and the signal, the signal will be either blocked entirely or significantly reduced.  Also, if your attic contains power lines and/or air conditioning equipment, these can cause further problems with signal reception.

I have more than one TV set in my home, can I hook all of them up to the same rooftop antenna? 

Certainly.  Depending on the number of sets that you want to hook up, you will need to buy the appropriate number of splitters and possibly an amplifier.  In general, the antenna will need to pull down enough signal to overcome the loss from the splitters and the downlead cable from your roof.  

If I am having problems with TV reception, will it help to use an amplifier with my antenna?
Not necessarily.  Amplifiers raise the strength of a signal in order to overcome signal loss due to equipment such as the downlead cable and splitters.  Amplifiers do not improve the quality of the original signal.

Will an antenna that I purchase today work when TV stations start broadcasting in digital?
Probably.  The antenna you buy now will work for the analog signal now being broadcast, and should also receive the digital signal of the future.  But, keep in mind that stations' digital signals will be on different channels than their analog broadcasts. 


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