Since June 13, 2009, all TV broadcasts transmitted over-the-air have been in digital. Cable operators, however, were not required by the FCC to switch to digital service. If you have not received any notices to this effect, or have any doubts, you must contact your cable operator to verify if the service is in digital or analog format.
All full-power television stations stopped broadcasting in analog and made the switch to digital service in 2009 to comply with the FCC’s mandate. The FCC required the switch to provide consumers with the following benefits: access to interactive and video technology that were not available through analog technology, enhanced picture quality and audio, expanded programming choices for viewers, availability of freed-up broadcast spectrums for public safety communications and advanced wireless services. Many cable operators have already switched to digital in order to remain competitive and offer customers access to several of these enhanced features.
Subscribers to digital cable service have access to acutely sharp high-definition images and accompanying surround sound. The clarity that digital cable service provides is normally so rich that it exposes details not visible on analog TV. An interactive program guide allows you to set up program recordings if you have a digital video recorder or access a picture-in-picture mode where you can watch two programs simultaneously. In some instances, the interactive technology allows you to pay your cable bill with a few clicks of the remote or to respond to surveys that pop up on your television screen. You may also be able to pause, rewind or fast-forward cable programming. The interactivity that digital TV service provides means less hassle, more choice and improved service.
Prior to the switch to digital TV, you could watch analog TV without needing any additional equipment apart from your television set. Now that all over-the-air broadcasts are in digital, you will need a DTV Converter box to view public television broadcasts without basic cable. Also, since the FCC did not require cable operators to make the switch, you may be stuck with analog TV until your cable operator decides to make the switch to digital.
If your cable operator has not made the switch to digital service, all hope is not lost. You may be able to access digital television programming by switching to satellite television. This may provide you with access to an even larger list of programming choices. It is important to note that you need to install a small satellite dish on the premises to receive television programming via satellite. Since signals are relayed between your on-premise satellite dish and a satellite in outer space, your service may be subject to interruption during heavy rainfall or adverse weather conditions.