What Is Digital TV?

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Updated January 23, 2023

Before the introduction of digital television, broadcast TV used an analog signal to transmit video and audio. The images in an analog signal were represented by amplitude, phase, and frequency. When it was first introduced, many may not have understood what is digital TV and why it became some of the best TVs on the market. Digital TV prompted new standards for broadcasting TV content and introduced higher image quality for high-definition signals.


  • Digital TV provides a method for broadcasting TV content digitally.
  • The FCC regulates the standard for digital TV service.
  • Digital terrestrial television provides advantages over some analog TV signal issues.

How Does Digital TV Work?

For a long time, digital TV (DTV) was not feasible because it requires high bandwidth. This requirement comes from the need to send uncompressed digital video to the television. When the ability to reach a higher bandwidth was achieved, digital video still had to improve. The FCC required and oversaw these improvements while analog TVs were still in use. Since then, America switched off its full-power analog stations, resulting in the near-total elimination of analog TVs. If you are one of the many people that watch over-the-air broadcasts instead of paying for cable, you will need a good antenna to ensure you get the most channels and clearest picture possible in your area. For that, you should check out these top-rated antennas. You should make sure the antenna has a long enough range to get the most digital channels possible with great reception. If you already have an antenna and don’t want to buy a new one, you can also try a signal booster to see if it will help. Also, it is important to know that the range of channels can be limited with an antenna.

Who Sets the Standards for Digital TV?

The Federal Communications Commission controls various forms of communication, including TV. As the moderator for communications, the FCC placed some new standards for TV. The new digital TV standard had to be more than an enhanced version of the analog signal. However, the FCC still required DTV broadcasters to provide genuine high definition (HD) TV signals and stated that these HDTV signals needed at least twice the resolution of existing TV images.

The new standard for analog TV (ATV) placed by the FCC had to be capable of being simulcast on different channels, allowing developers to base the DTV signal on an entirely new design principle. In addition, because the FCC allowed the signal to have multiple formatting, aspect ratio, and lines of resolution formats, there are many different DTV picture formats.

When Did Digital TV Become Standard?

In June of 2009, the United States switched off analog full-power stations. This change made analog receivers obsolete and caused an issue with the disposal of the technology. In Michigan, one recycler estimated that as many as one households in four would dispose of or recycle a TV set in the following year. The materials found in these analog sets include hazardous ones, causing those materials to be disposed of at landfills at least in part. If you don’t remember the analog technology then you may not be familiar with what a CRT TV is.

Benefits of DTV

Following the establishment of DTV as the primary source of TV signals, there was a migration to high-definition TV receivers. Additionally, flatscreens began to replace cathode ray tube TVs. One form of digital TV, digital terrestrial television (DTT,) took up significantly less bandwidth than its analog counterpart, though the bandwidth needs depend on different aspects. High-definition television became more widely available at this time.DTT broadcasting can transmit HDTV or standard definition (SD) TV. And if you are a gamer and want to know what to look for in a gaming TV, high-definition is a must.

Disadvantages of DTV

DTV counteracts some of the common problems with analog TVs, such as ghosting, signal noise, and image and sound degradation. However, the audio and digital video signal must be synchronized digitally. Therefore, if the digital signal encounters interference, the image can appear to be blocky. You will also have to find out what a digital tuner is if you wish to use your digital Tv without signal issues.

Digital TV included many advantages over analog, but it has some issues as well. However, following the switching off of full-power analog stations, DTV quickly became the main form of TV signals. The FCC regulates these signals and controls the base quality for them, as well as the enhancement of HDTV. In addition, most manufacturers specifically designed their TVs to receive digital signals. However, some people may still have a digital adapter for an older television. This adapter allows the TV to accept a digital format and convert it to an analog format that can be played on the TV.


Why do you need a digital TV converter?

These converters allow users with analog televisions to receive digital signals and convert them to analog, allowing them to watch shows broadcast digitally on their TVs.

What’s the difference between Digital TV and HDTV?

Digital TV describes the transmission of the signal, while high-definition (HD) TV describes the resolution of the images on the screen. These two often go hand in hand, but not all digital content is broadcast in HD.

How do you know if your TV is digital?

Most TVs made by major brands in recent years support digital TV signals. Additionally, you can find information about your television in the owner’s manual or on the manufacturer’s website. Finally, specific channels are digital-only, so you can try tuning in to one of those channels.

STAT: In Michigan in 2009, one recycler estimated that as many as one households in four would dispose of or recycle a TV set in the following year. (source)

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