(Also read Part 1
, and Part 2
of this series)
As one of the final steps before my family embraces new over the top video (OTT) services and cuts the cord on our Comcast Cable TV service, I wanted to verify what over the air (OTA) channels I could get in my area. The more I thought about it and talked to other families who have done the same thing, the more I realized how important having some OTA channels is to keeping some semblance of a “lean-back” TV watching experience.
First I went up to the attic to verify that my old antenna was still hooked up. Yup, there it is. I have read that you might cut your ability to received OTA channels by 50% versus the unsightly rooftop antennas (depending on what kind of roofing materials you have). I also read various sources that talked about the need to buy a new antenna to get OTA. I was hoping that my trusty old-school attic variety would suffice.
Next I went down to try to verify that the cable from my antenna was routing through the root splitter in my basement. This proved a bit more challenging. I have what looks like no less than 3 splitters and an amplifier at the root, an artifact of having had antenna, DirecTV satellite service, and Comcast at different times. I have heard that when installation people install a new service like satellite or cable, they sometimes “accidentally” unplug the coaxial cables from competing services. I am not sure if their motives here are nefarious or if they are just trying to reduce noise and interference on the line. Either way, suffice to say that my utility closet in my basement is an absolute mess of cables. There sure seems to be many spans of cable not connecting to anything. Eventually I gave up trying to figure out what coax was going through which splitter. The best way to see what OTA channels I would get was to try it out.
I first checked the AntennaWeb
web site that is supposed to tell you what stations are available in your area. Here is what I got back:
Next, I switched my TVs from “cable” to “antenna”. As expected, I lost almost all my cable channels but still received my local channels of CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, and PBS. I also received three local government channels for the town, school, and public interest content. Surprisingly, I also had access to QVC and the Golf Channel. Those last two made me wonder whether there was some “bleed-through” from my cable coax lines somehow. I really would not expect to get the Golf Channel as an OTA channel.
To my disappointment, none of the local channels were received in high definition, which makes me ask if I may indeed need to replace my old attic antenna with one able to receive HD broadcasts. I had thought that “digital was digital” and if my antenna could receive digital OTA channels than it should be able to receive digital HD channels. Some more trouble-shooting here to figure this out. I tried a new channel scan, but perhaps the HD channels are “hiding” at some RF x.y channel that requires the use of a decimal? Stay tuned.
Next up, Kirsten will discuss what content we watch with our Comcast TV service and what we are really hoping we can still get with a combination of OTA and OTT.