Are Roof Top TV Aerials Obsolete?
This might seem a strange titled for a blog, written by a business that does what we do, but if you’re wondering whether TV roof aerials are still used and if they are obsolete you have come to the right place. In the article we discuss whether TV antennas are still needed and what services you can get through them, together with predictions for what lies in future for the old TV aerial. Let’s begin.
Are TV Aerials/ Antennas Still Used?
For a while it looked like the time was up on conventional roof-top antenna as analogue TV did not have many channels to offer and a far greater range of services could be received via satellite. To cut a long story short, yes TV Aerials are still used but if you have been a Sky subscriber for a period of time or use Freesat for your TV viewing, you may have not have used one for a long time as Sky/ Freesat TV uses a satellite dish instead. You may even have had a TV aerial on your roof which you has been redundant for some time. I know a lot of aerials/ antennas on chimneys are just sitting there doing nothing and often only get removed/ replaced when they break, dangle and/ or rattle in the wind which can keep you awake at night.
What Can I Receive Through A TV Aerial?
In the UK, since the digital switch over which was fully completed in 2013 the digital TV service being delivered is called Freeview. Originally this was branded as On Digital. Prior to the digital switch over all that could be received was 4 or 5 analogue TV channels of dubious picture quality. Although TV aerials are not as always as popular in other countries as they are in the UK, they will have their own terrestrial TV service branded as something else. In Ireland it’s called Soarview, in Australia I believe it’s also Freeview or Freeview Australia etc.
Freeview is a free to view TV service that has depending on the region you’re in and TV transmitter that you’re using approximately 70 TV channels and 30 digital radio channels, as well as some other interactive type content and up to 15 High Definition (HD) TV channels. To receive Freeview you require a TV aerial and a digital TV tuner, this is built into most TV’s but may not be in your TV is getting on a bit in which case a Freeview box can be installed which the TV aerial connects into and the TV connected by either a HDMI lead, SCART, RF or phono type connection. Many other platforms also use a TV aerial/ Freeview for their live TV service, these include BT Vision, Youview, TalkTalk TV.
BT Vision/ TalkTalk TV/ EETV
All of these subscription based providers use a Freeview TV connection which is provided via a conventional terrestrial TV antenna and combine these with their own pay TV content which is delivered by the internet, usually a dedicated Ethernet cable which connects directly to your broadband router. Providers such as BT Vision have a variety of Movies and Sports channels like Sky Sports making it a great alternative to Sky.
Freeview+/ Freeview Play/ Youview
These are all very similar services with their own unique attributes and usually require a separate Set Top Box (STB) or Personal Video Recorder (PVR) to be able to receive them. A Freeview+ box allows you to record TV channels onto an internal HDD and watch other TV programmes at the same time, this has been superseded by Freeview Play which also has popular applications that are delivered via the internet like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Netflix, Youtube etc., and also allows you to record multiple TV channels at one time.
Youview is very similar to Freeview Play and was the first platform to allow to to scroll back on the 7 day TV guide to play on demand programmes that you have missed. You do not have to do it this way as it has applications very similar to Freeview Play. Although you can purchased Youview boxes and use for free TV channels only, Youview boxes are most commonly installed with BT Vision who have been using the platform for several years now.
Should I Keep or Remove My TV Aerial?
I generally recommend that people keep their TV aerial, even if they subscribe to services like Sky or use Freesat instead. This is because you have something to fall back on if you ever get trouble with your satellite dish or if you’re streaming your TV content through the internet, a poor internet connection. Satellite TV reception can become very poor in heavy rain or thunderstorms as the signals need to pass through all this from the satellites in space, which can cause TV pixelation and loss of signal altogether. TV Aerials on the other hand as they use lower frequencies and land based transmitters which are much closer in relation to the antenna than a satellite are much less likely to fail in heavy rain, which means you may be grateful that you kept your TV aerial.
You could also route your TV aerial lead into a different room like a bedroom, which would allow you to install another TV. If your unused TV aerial is very old and it likes like you might need a new one and do not want the expense, then you can of course remove it.
How Long Will TV Aerials Still Be Used?
I think that conventional TV aerials and antennas will still have their uses going forward, but it’s difficult to say how much longer we will be using them for in the future as technologies are constantly changing and peoples viewing habits evolving. I think it is obvious to most that going forward more and more will be delivered by the internet (you will be able to receive full Sky without a dish soon) but in order for this to happen the broadband infrastructure is going to need some serious improvements to be able to carry all the extra demand of the nations TV viewing, sure there are things that you can do to maximise your broadband speed like hardwire your internet but I think this may also still be some time away.
There is also potential that frequencies currently used by terrestrial TV services will be auctioned off like is the case for 4G/ 5G mobile internet within the 800Mhz and 700Mhz respectively. I’m sure that one day people will think the idea of installing load of metal on the top of buildings will be an alien concept but like I said, I think that’s a few years away yet.
Conclusion – Yes TV Aerials Are Very Much Still Needed!
I must admit, If I were to start my business again today, I might have been a little bit more creative in deciding a trading name. I literally went for my family name – Smart and the service I provided the most which at the time was – Aerials. That was a fair few year ago now and things have changed massively. Perhaps the days of the aerial installer are numbered, but the industry has changed so much so we have all developed skillsets elsewhere like data cabling, CCTV, AV and so on.
TV Aerial Questions – In Blog Comments Section
If you have any questions regarding your TV aerial, this could include what design it is and whether it is worth keeping or not. Please feel free to POST YOUR COMMENTS IN THE BLOG COMMENTS SECTION BELOW. Please only post your comments/ questions here, please DO NOT CALL OUR TELEPHONE LINES and please DO NOT E-MAIL YOUR QUESTIONS.
By posting your TV aerial related questions within the Blog Comments Section, you will:
1) Help the blog.
2) Give future readers the benefit or the question asked and the answer given, they may have the same query as you.
3) Provide me a central location to answer all the questions I get asked. At the time of writing this our blog currently receives near 40,000 visits per week and I get asked so many questions now, which is incredible for a small business like ours!
4) Help me know what article of ours that your question relates to, it can be very difficult to tell over e-mail.
PLEASE DO NOT!!!
1) Call our telephone lines, we do not have the staff or time to offer free technical advise or support over the phone and I do not hand my personal phone number out.
2) Privately e-mail your question. It is far too time-consuming for me to correspond this way. If you do e-mail your questions, it's highly likely that you will not receive a response.
3) Fill in the website contact forms, these are intended for customers only and we only serve Sussex/ Kent. Again it's likely you will not receive a response if you post your question this way.
All that being said, I will help where I can providing you're patient with a response. Please do not expect a same day reply as you're unlikely to receive one. I hoped that you liked the blog.
Until next time,
What Is Signal Polarisation?
Signal polarisations used with TV aerials, satellite, & wireless telecoms. Inc info on different polarity types & how to align correct.
UHF/ RF Modulators For TV Systems Explained
Read this for info on UHF/ RF Modulators for TV Systems. Inc Tips, advice, & instructions on how to install a modulator. Create TV channel.
Broadband/ Internet Without A Telephone or Landline
Read this for info on how to receive broadband/ internet without a telephone or landline at your property. Inc help, advice, pro's & con's.