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What is DTV?

Digital Television (DTV) is an advanced broadcasting technology that has transformed your television viewing experience. DTV has enable broadcasters to offer television with better picture and sound quality. It also offers multiple programming choices, called multicasting, and interactive capabilities. However, DTV is not necessarily HDTV. DTV is the broadcast method, rather than the type of broadcast. (See About HDTV)

The DTV Transition

The switch from analog to digital broadcast television is referred to as the Digital TV (DTV) Transition. In 1996, the U.S. Congress authorized the distribution of an additional broadcast channel to each broadcast TV station so that they could start a digital broadcast channel while simultaneously continuing their analog broadcast channel.

Later, Congress set June 12, 2009 as the deadline for full power television stations to stop broadcasting analog signals. Since June 13, 2009, all full-power U.S. television stations have broadcast over-the-air signals in digital only.

Why Did We Switch to DTV?

An important benefit of the switch to all-digital broadcasting is that it freed up parts of the valuable broadcast spectrum for public safety communications (such as police, fire departments, and rescue squads). Also, some of the spectrum can now be auctioned to companies that will be able to provide consumers with more advanced wireless services (such as wireless broadband).

Consumers also benefited because digital broadcasting allows stations to offer improved picture and sound quality, and digital is much more efficient than analog. For example, rather than being limited to providing one analog program, a broadcaster is able to offer a super sharp High Definition (HD) digital program or multiple Standard Definition (SD) digital programs simultaneously through a process called "multicasting."

Multicasting allows broadcast stations to offer several channels of digital programming at the same time, using the same amount of spectrum required for one analog program. So, for example, while a station broadcasting in analog on channel 7 is only able to offer viewers one program, a station broadcasting in digital on channel 7 can offer viewers one digital program on channel 7-1, a second digital program on channel 7-2, a third digital program on channel 7-3, and so on. This means more programming choices for viewers. Further, DTV provides interactive video and data services that were not possible with analog technology.

Analog
DTV
HDTV
  • Date for final transition to digital was June 12, 2009. Since June 13, 2009, all full-power U.S. stations have broadcast digital –only signals.
  • Consumers will always be able to connect an inexpensive receiver (a digital-to-analog converter box) to their existing analog TV to decode DTV broadcast signals.
  • Digital-to-analog converter boxes will not convert your analog TV to High Definition (HD).
  • Analog TV sets will continue to work with cable, satellite, VCR, DVD players, camcorders, video game consoles and other devices for many years.
  • Digital cable or digital satellite does not mean a program is in High Definition (HD).
  • Multicasting is available.
  • HDTV is available.
  • Data streaming is available.
  • High-definition broadcasts offered.
  • Best available picture resolution, clarity and color.
  • Dolby theater Surround Sound.
  • Dolby Surround Sound.
  • Widescreen "movie-like" format.
Source: dtv.gov