Since the recent change in free-to-air TV signals from analog to digital, cable companies like Rogers, Bell, and Shaw have led the Canadian public to believe that the only way to receive television signals is via their services. This is untrue! While your old-fashioned “rabbit ears” no longer get you very far, the reality is that you can receive free, legal, television programming, in clear digital HDTV. How many channels you can receive depends on many factors.
- Proximity to transmission towers
- Signal transmission strength
- Topographical features such as hills and valleys
- Nearby bodies of water
- Obstructions such as trees and neighbouring buildings
- Type of antenna installed
- Use of signal amplification hardware
- Sources of interference such as commercial communications systems in the vicinity
- Weather conditions
What do I need in order to receive OTA (Over-The-Air) digital HDTV?
Your TV must have a digital receiver. If your TV was manufactured in 2006 or later, there is a very good chance that it already has a built-in digital receiver. If your TV does not have a receiver built in (generally the case with CRT television sets) you can install a digital converter set-top box. Most LCD and LED TVs have built-in digital channel receivers.
To view programs in high definition, you must have an HDTV-capable TV. A standard definition TV can receive the signal, but will only display the picture and sound in standard definition. The importance of HDTV depends on the individual’s personal preference and requirements.
To receive the digital TV signal, you require a digital antenna. There is a wide variety of antennas available on the market. Generally, a set-top “parabolic dish antenna” or receives little to no signal. The dish is usually purely decorative, and the antenna is essentially rabbit ears. These are sold cheaply in many retail stores, particularly discount stores that do not accept returns if you are dissatisfied with the product.
Many antennas sold in retail stores are omnidirectional, meaning they don’t require aiming toward the transmission tower. Omnidirectional antennas are useful only in areas that have many strong signals from nearby transmission towers. These areas are primarily in American urban areas. Canadian cities have far fewer transmission towers, and often the signals are obstructed by tall buildings, so an omnidirectional antenna is generally not very effective for receiving signals in Canadian homes.
Directional antennas come in many different shapes, sizes, and price ranges. This type of antenna can be mounted on a rooftop, wall, chimney, tower, or even inside an attic. While electric rotor devices are available, they are inadvisable for aiming digital antennas. Unlike analogue signals, which appear as fuzzy images and distorted sound when the signal is weak, digital signals are either crystal clear or they do not appear at all. Aiming a digital antenna accurately requires specialised equipment in order to receive the maximum number of channels. Once properly aimed, the antenna should not be repositioned as there is a high likelihood that you will be unable to locate the optimal signal again. If Tech Unbound installs your antenna, we will send a technician to re-aim your antenna in the event of movement of the antenna caused by extreme weather. We unconditionally warranty our aiming service for 90 days. If your antenna needs to be re-aimed after 90 days, there will be a nominal charge to do so unless the problem was caused by an error on the part of our technician. It is very uncommon for a properly mounted antenna to move out of its fixed position.
Will Tech Unbound install an antenna I have purchased elsewhere?
While this is a service we are able to provide, we recommend against it for a number of reasons. Firstly, we guarantee that the hardware we sell to you is of high quality and is appropriate for your needs. Many retailers in store and online provide little to no information on the products they sell, and seek only to get the most money possible out of each customer. Often, the retailers do not accept returns if you are dissatisfied with your hardware, nor is there a warranty to call on in the event of malfunction. Tech Unbound buys commercial-grade products directly from the importers. We will recommend only the hardware you actually require, and if it malfunctions we are able to replace any faulty hardware with new hardware. We offer a full one-year warranty on parts and labour.
If you do opt to purchase your own equipment for our technicians to install, we will be required to charge a greater installation fee. This is because we are unfamiliar with your particular hardware, and will need additional time to determine how to assemble and mount your antenna. Also, if you find you are unsatisfied with your hardware and would like our technician to dismount it on another date so you can return it to the place of purchase, you will be required to pay our technician for the additional labour. Any equipment purchased from Tech Unbound will be adjusted or replaced at no additional cost if there are any problems with your mounted hardware.
Will Tech Unbound sell me an antenna and allow me to install it myself?
We are able to sell you an antenna for you to install yourself, but we strongly advise against this. Aside from the above-mentioned difficulty in accurately aiming the antenna, we arrive with all necessary equipment to securely install your antenna. We then use our professional calibration equipment to ensure you receive the optimum signal available.
Why is a site survey required?
We always begin with a free, no-obligation site survey to discover the signal strength and availability. This is necessary because it is impossible to accurately guess all the variables such as signal strength, topographical features, and obstructions such as trees and buildings. We perform the site survey using a test antenna, and also examine your home or business to determine the best location and method of mounting an antenna. We then provide you with specific information on which channels you can receive, what types of hardware you require, and a quote on the price of hardware and labour to install your antenna. This ensures there are no surprises, and allows you to ask as many questions as you wish so you can make an informed decision. If you choose to book your installation at the time of the site survey, you may do so. However, many customers also opt to wait until they have had time to consult with other household members, compare prices, and consider if an antenna is right for them. You choose whether to order an installation, and when you would like to have your equipment installed.