This guide describes the installation of a digital-to-analog converter box with your current antenna and analog TV. This guide will help you prepare so that when you purchase a converter box you will know what to expect and whether you may need help setting it up.
Supplies: You will need your analog TV, the antenna you have been using (indoor or outdoor), and the coaxial wire that currently connects your antenna to your TV (as pictured on the right). Your new converter box will come with a coaxial wire and a remote control. Before you begin the installation of the converter box, you should unplug your TV.
Step Unplug the existing coaxial antenna wire from your TV “Antenna In (RF)” port.
Step Plug the existing coaxial wire into the “Antenna In (RF)” port on your Converter Box.
Step Using the coaxial wire that comes with your Converter Box, plug one end into the “Out To TV (RF)” port on the Converter Box. Plug the other end into the “Antenna In (RF)” port on your TV.
Step Plug the power cords on your Converter Box and TV into a power outlet, and turn on your TV and Converter Box. Using the instructions that come with your Converter Box, tune your TV to channel 3 or 4. Using the remote that comes with your Converter Box, follow the on-screen set-up guide to scan for available DTV channels, and begin enjoying the benefits of Digital Television!
If your Converter Box includes an "analog pass-through" feature, this set up will also allow you to receive any stations that still broadcast in analog in your area. Follow the instructions that come with your Converter Box for how to tune analog channels.
For instructions on how to connect your converter box if it does not include an analog pass-through feature or for instructions on connecting your converter box to other components such as a VCR, go to www.fcc.gov/digital-television or contact the FCC by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY.
Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Setup (Basic) Guide (pdf)
Please note: the last day to apply for a coupon or file an appeal was July 31, 2009.
The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) administers the TV Converter Box Coupon Program (Coupon Program), as authorized in the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005.Between January 1, 2008, and July 31, 2009, all U.S. households were eligible to request up to two coupons, worth $40 each, to be used toward the purchase of up to two digital-to-analog converter boxes. For more details on the federal regulations, please see the TV Converter Box Coupon Program Rules.
All weekly status reports for the TV Converter Box Coupon Program are available online, which include the number of applications and coupons requested to date. Also see TV Converter Box Coupon Program: Background and Statistics.
Outside the Box - The Digital TV Converter Box Coupon Program: This report describes the challenges NTIA faced in administering the TV Converter Coupon Program and the solutions developed to address those issues. (Acrobat PDF 2.8 MB)
Low Power, Class A and Translator TV stations are not required to transition to digital broadcasting on June 12, 2009.
• Frequently-Asked Questions for Viewers of Translators and Low Power Stations
• FCC Consumer Advisory on the DTV Transition and LPTV/Class A/Translator Stations
For details on the rulemaking process, see the program's Rules.
Digital television adapter
Type of television tuner to display digital signals on analog sets
A digital television adapter (DTA), commonly known as a converter box or decoder box, is a television tuner that receives a digital television (DTV) transmission, and converts the digital signal into an analog signal that can be received and displayed on an analog television set. Some also have an HDMI output since some TVs with HDMI do not have a digital tuner. The input digital signal may be over-the-air terrestrial television signals received by a television antenna, or signals from a digital cable system. It normally does not refer to satellite TV, which has always required a set-top box either to operate the bigsatellite dish, or to be the integrated receiver/decoder (IRD) in the case of direct-broadcast satellites (DBS).
In North America, these ATSC tuner boxes convert from ATSC to NTSC, while in most of Europe and other places such as Australia, they convert from Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) to PAL. Because the DTV transition did nothing to reduce the number of broadcast television system standards (and in fact further complicated them), and due to varying frequency allocations and bandplans, there are many other combinations specific to other countries.
On June 12, 2009, all full-power analog television transmissions ended in the United States. Viewers who watch broadcast television on older analog TV sets must use a digital converter box. Since many of the low-power TV stations continued to broadcast in analog for a while, consumers who watch low-power stations needed an adapter with an analog passthrough feature that allows the viewer to watch both digital and analog signals. Viewers who receive their television signals through cable or satellite were not affected by this change and did not need a digital television adapter (however, see the cable TV exception below). Additionally, viewers who have newer televisions with built-in digital ATSC tuners will not need an external digital television adapter.
The United States government had set up a program to offer consumers a $40 "coupon" which could be used toward the purchase of a coupon-eligible converter box; that program ended in July 2009.
At the Consumer Electronics Association's Entertainment Technology Policy Summit in January 2006, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) CommissionerJonathan Adelstein said many Americans did not know about the February 17, 2006, deadline for ending analog TV. Furthermore, he said, too many people were still buying analog TV sets, meaning more demand for converter boxes. And even if people found out what they would have to do, converter boxes might not do the job adequately. Tribune Broadcasting chief technology officer Ira Goldstone said just buying a converter box did not necessarily mean getting the latest technology. Bob Seidel of CBS said companies (especially in countries other than the US) might use cheaper tuners, and people would need new television antennas for proper reception. Circuit City Chairman Alan McCollough opposed converter boxes, saying people should just buy digital TVs, and television networks should offer only widescreen-format television programming as an incentive to do that.
Prototypes of the first converter boxes appeared at the NAB show in 2006. LG Electronics, which took over Zenith Electronics in 1999, showed its model connected to a Zenith TV from 1980, while Thomson Consumer Electronics used an RCA TV from 1987 for its demonstration. Both boxes shown used electronic program guides using Program and System Information Protocol (PSIP). The devices showed program details, V-chip ratings and signal strength. Thomson's model stored three days of TV listings, allowed parental controls, and could set a VCR.
Differences for cable customers
Cable TV systems are under no deadline to convert to digital TV. However, many Comcast (and some other cable TV) customers are finding all of their non-local and non-shopping networks eliminated on various dates, even though only a few are needed for additional digital cable channels. CECBs (Coupon-eligible converter boxes) will not work on these systems because cable ATSC uses 256QAMmodulation instead of 8VSB, and so a separate but similar DTA with a QAM tuner is necessary. If the cable company takes away analog channels, at least two of these adapters must be provided for free by the cable company for at least three years so that customers can continue to watch the same channels with existing equipment. Cable companies were required to provide some analog service until October 2006. After that, taking away analog channels allowed faster Internet and more HD channels. An adapter from the cable provider was needed even for digital TVs if the company scrambled its digital signals to prevent piracy.
A digital transport adapter will allow viewing of basic channels, often as many as 99, but not premium channels. It will also not allow video on demand or pay-per-view. DTAs also allow analog sets to receive digital signals using RF output on channel 3 or 4, using coaxial cable. Other versions of the DTA (including with an HDMI output) are available.
Pace plc developed the XiD-P digital transport adapter for Comcast, allowing 4K service and offering the potential to expand the DTA from one-way to two-way. This would involve adding IP capability.
Most countries that have switched to digital TV use DVB-T broadcasting with [email protected] or H.264 encoding. Some, however, consider switching to DVB-T2 such as the UK, being the first to test DVB-T2. This results in a number of different combinations for external digital receivers with the MPEG-2 ones sold at about €15 to €35 and the MPEG-4 ones reaching €25 to €150. Currently, all set top boxes sold in EU cannot exceed 0.5W in stand by mode.
Russia has also introduced digital TV and is now (03.12.2018 – 03.06.2019) ending analog over-the-air transmission. Most new TVs feature a DVB-T2 tuner which allows reception of digital over-the-air TV without need of an external device such a converter box. If using a TV set without a DVB-T2 tuner, an external converter box must be purchased and used. This converter box takes the digital signal from the antenna and outputs composite video (for SD TVs) or HDMI (for HD TVs). The RF/antenna output, if present on the box, is usually just a passthrough ("LOOP OUT" which does not provide the box's output signal, but only provides the raw antenna input signal – to watch analog channels via the TV's tuner if analog broadcast has not ended yet or to connect another DVB-T2 capable device to the same antenna feed) because even older TVs usually have at least composite input; this removes a need for an RF modulator in the converter box.
- Request for Comment and Notice of Proposed Rules to Implement and Administer a Coupon Program for Digital-to-Analog Converter Boxes, Docket Number 060512129-6129-01 (Jul. 25, 2006).
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