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What is a Digital TV Signal Booster?

Prior to 2009, televisions in the U.S. could receive analog TV signals, but now only digital signals are used and special adapters are needed for old-style televisions.
A digital TV signal booster, also called a pre-amplifier, can resolve difficulties with reception from certain stations.
Without an amplifier, a digital TV signal can usually reach set antennas up to 70 miles away from broadcast towers.
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  • Written By: S.J. Merens
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2014
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Television stations broadcast with an analog or digital signal. Many countries have changed from the traditional analog transmission to digital for the various advantages that digital transmission provides. Although this change provides better picture quality for many viewers, some people who use antennas have difficulty with reception from certain stations. A digital TV signal booster, also called a pre-amplifier, sometimes can resolve this problem. A signal booster consists of an amplifier that is mounted on the antenna or the antenna mast and a power supply inside the building.

Although a digital signal generally provides a clearer TV picture than an analog signal does, the digital signal is significantly weaker and doesn’t travel as far. If the individual uses an outdoor antenna and lives a great distance from where the station's signal is broadcast, there might be problems with reception that did not occur previously. In addition, digital reception is affected more by weather and antenna type, as well as by objects in its path, such as buildings and even trees. TV viewers who live in a low-lying area might have more trouble with digital TV reception compared with their neighbors who live on a hill.

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If reception is poor, options for resolving the problem include changing the direction of the antenna or moving the antenna. Adding a digital TV signal booster is another possible solution. These boosters are available in various brands and power strengths. A signal booster that’s too powerful can cause a loss of signal that’s just as bad as a weak signal.

A digital TV signal booster will work only if the antenna actually is receiving a signal, because the booster does not widen the range of the antenna. The signal booster amplifies the signal between the antenna and the digital tuner, where the signal can weaken. A viewer might be able to determine whether the antenna is receiving a station's signal by setting the TV to that station, clicking "menu" on the remote control and choosing "check signal strength" or a similar option on the television screen. Even if the signal is weak, a signal booster often can fix the problem.

It might be easier said than done to find a digital TV signal booster locally, with so many TV viewers having switched to cable or satellite systems. If no local stores that sell televisions or electronic equipment have signal boosters, the equipment can be found at online retail outlets. These websites also commonly provide information on the size of booster needed in relation to the type of antenna that is in place.

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Terrificli
Post 2

@Soulfox -- the only real solution to stopping those temporary interruptions is to get cable television. Cable usually runs underground and hold up just fine during a storm.

But, you've got to ask yourself is switching to cable so you won't have to deal with brief interruptions is worth the extra cost. If you are happy with local programming, then a signal booster is your most cost effective option.

Still, the problem with storms is much worse now than it was in the analog days. We can only hope it will be fixed one day because free television is all a lot of people want and need.

Soulfox
Post 1

You said a mouthful when mentioning that digital signals can be affected by whether. One of the gripes I had about satellite television had to do with the way those things would start dropping signals during bad storms. That was a problem during a nasty storm when seeing weather reports was critical.

The same problem exists when you are using an antenna to pull in local broadcasting. Is there a solution to that problem?

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