Digital vs. Analogue: Which Antenna (and Service) Do You Need?

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Digital vs. Analogue: Which Antenna (and Service) Do You Need?


Looking into getting an antenna but don’t quite know where to begin? Let’s start with the basics. We’ll cover the different types of antennas, pros and cons of each, why you might need an antenna service, and how to choose the right supplier to help install or service your antenna.

Digital Antennas vs. Analogue Antennas

There are two main types of antennas: digital and analogue. Digital antennas are the newer, more modern style, whereas analogue antennas were the standard type of antenna installed a decade or so ago.

The main difference between them is that analogue antennas were designed to pick up analogue signals, whereas digital antennas are designed to receive and interpret digital signals.

Let’s break down the differences a little further…

Analogue Antennas

Digital Antennas

Frequencies Lower Higher
Timing Continuous signal and broadcast in real time Signal sent in small chunks and will have at least a slight delay
Encoding Transmits broadcast signal directly, as it was recorded Converts signal digitally, which is then encoded by your digital TV device
Transmission A below-par signal will still come through, but it may be fuzzy with extra “noise” If the signal isn’t up to scratch, you’ll have no connection at all, but if it’s connected, you should experience picture-perfect display
Applications Originally designed for analogue signals, which have been phased out. While Australian TV is strictly digital these days, you can still (in many cases) use your analogue antenna to get a digital signal. Digital antennas are designed for receiving digital TV (and radio) signals.
Antenna servicing and availability Because analogue TV is now phased out, you can no longer buy new analogue antennas. So if you need an antenna service or upgrade, your best option is to replace it with a digital antenna. Digital antenna services are widely available across Australia from retailers and technicians, and you can choose from a variety of types to suit your location and signal strength.
Antenna placement Fairly standard and simple placement. Relatively easy to pick up a signal. Requires more precise placement to get a good signal.

Do You Need to Upgrade to a Digital Antenna?

It depends. Many people are moving away from traditional antennas and upgrading their systems to digital. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need a new antenna though.

In general, it’s better to have a digital antenna installed because they’re designed for the digital TV channels that are now broadcast across Australia. Upgrading to digital means you’re more likely to get a better signal and less likely to experience interruptions while you’re watching TV.

Analogue TV was phased out in Australia and completely switched off in December 2013. But that doesn’t mean your old analogue antenna won’t work. In fact, many Australians can still receive digital signals through their older analogue antennas. So you may be able to get away with using your existing antenna service for a bit longer – or until it breaks or deteriorates. To watch digital TV, you may also need a set-top box to encode the signal if you have an older-style analogue TV.

For more info, read our previous blog about digital TV and whether you need a new TV antenna installed.

So before you book in an antenna service or buy a new antenna, keep reading to find out what might be involved in this service and how to find a trusted technician who won’t sell you an antenna you don’t actually need.

Do You Need a Set-Top Box to Get Both Analogue and Digital?

Many commercial sites, like hotels, pubs, and clubs still have set-top boxes used to tune in individual analogue channels because they haven’t got around to upgrading yet. They distribute these channels throughout the entire venue or building. Poor reception and design at these sites can cause a grainy, bad quality image. Luckily, it’s often a simple fix. All it takes is a simple upgrade to give your guests a crystal clear image.

If you offer TV viewing to your patrons or guests, it’s a good idea to book a regular antenna service. Fixing the display and improving access to popular TV channels will mean happier guests who are more likely to rate their experience highly, recommend you to family and friends, and come back again.

Other Reasons You Might Need to Upgrade Your Antenna

Even if you’ve got an analogue antenna already, if it’s not up to scratch, you might need to upgrade to a digital antenna. Or if you’ve got a digital antenna but you can’t get a good signal, you might need your antenna serviced, repaired, or replaced. A good antenna should last you at least a decade, but only if nothing unfortunate happens to it. After all, it sits exposed on your roof, and things like rain, hail, wind, birds, and tree branches can cause problems.

Some issues that can pop up over time include:

  • Rusting
  • Built-up dirt
  • Cracking
  • Breaking/bending

All these issues can prevent you from getting a clear signal and uninterrupted viewing.

What Else Might Cause Issues With Your TV Display?

But it’s also important to consider that other issues might be causing a signal problem. Think about it like this… your TV experience is only as good as the weakest link. And that might be your antenna, or it might be something else, like:

  • Your cabling
  • Your TV settings
  • The connection points
  • Changes to your local area that are affecting your reception

The only way you’ll know for sure is if you book a professional antenna service and get a technician to diagnose the problem. It might be fixed with a simple adjustment, or you might need a new antenna or cabling installed.

Something else to consider is the direction of your antenna. This is especially important with digital antennas, compared to the older analogue antennas. Digital signals are a lot more precise, so you need to ensure it’s in the right position to get reception for your area. If in doubt, take a look at your neighbours’ antennas to see what direction they’re pointed, and if yours isn’t parallel, it might need adjusting. During an antenna service, your technician will adjust this to give you the best reception.

What’s Involved in an Antenna Service?

When you book an antenna service with a professional, they’ll assess your home, your antenna, and the kind of signal you can get. They’ll properly adjust your antenna to see if it helps improve your connection. And if you need one, they’ll recommend an appropriate replacement antenna or upgrade as part of your antenna service.

A reliable antenna service provider will never recommend a new antenna unless you actually need one – so if you’ve got an analogue antenna that works fine and just needed adjusting, you’ll be able to stick with that instead of upgrading to digital.

How to Choose the Right Antenna Service

You’ll avoid problems when you get your antenna installed properly the first time by a seasoned professional. Some things to look for when you book in for an antenna service include:

  • Local knowledge – they should be in your local area and familiar with the frequencies
  • Experience – look for a reputable company that’s been established for a long time
  • Guarantees – see what guarantees they can offer on new antennas and servicing
  • Timing – look for a company that offers quick service so you don’t have to wait
  • Budget – consider whether they fit your budget, and beware of companies that offer too-cheap pricing, as they’ll likely cut corners

Need help with your antenna? Call us for a quote and expert advice on 1300 800 123 or take a look at our full list of antenna services to see how we can help you.