It might have been a long time coming, but the year of the digital switchover is finally here – so it’s the perfect time to find out just how to get the best digital aerial possible for your TV set. Plus, whatever free-to-air top box or digital provider you’re with, re-tuning your aerial will ensure you keep all the channels you’re entitled to – so you won’t have to miss out on any of your favourite programmes, despite the switch.
So far, the following UK television regions have already switched to a permanent digital signal: West, West Country, Wales, Yorkshire, STV North, STV Central, Granada and Border. For Meridian viewers, the switch is scheduled to take place between February and June 2012, involving the conversion of ten separate transmitters across the area. For Greater London and the Home Counties (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex), a similar programme is set to get underway from around 4th April 2012. But if you don’t yet have a digital TV aerial, fear not; the steps outlined below should help explain everything you need to know!
Just as with an analogue aerial installation, you will need to carefully consider the following points when purchasing and fitting a digital TV aerial:
Hire an experienced aerial installer
For best results, hire an aerial installer who has been on the job for around four to five years or more and who is fully qualified with an association like the Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI). Experienced contractors have a good understanding of all the necessary materials you need to get the work done properly, (including the mast, co-axial cable and internal TV point), and can usually work faster too – saving you a bit of extra money.
Local contractors will generally have a good understanding of all the signal transmitters in the surrounding area, and will be able to position your new digital aerial or satellite dish to provide the best picture possible.
Make sure your new aerial is digital-compatible
This might sound like a silly thing to point out, but plenty of people purchase a new aerial without checking it is compatible with their new Freeview, Freesat or Sky or Virgin top-box. If you are also purchasing a new TV, you could always buy one with Integrated Digital Freeview instead – that way you don’t have to worry about an aerial at all!
Check for a guarantee
When purchasing a new aerial you should always make sure you get a guarantee or selected warranty. That way you can rest knowing you will definitely be refunded for a shoddy job, and if any problems occur in the next couple of years you won’t have to pay out all over again.
If you want the best deal possible, always compare at least three different quotes from local professionals. Check with family and friends and see if they can suggest anybody who has done a good job fitting an aerial for them before – you might be able to get the aerial fitted quickly and at a surprisingly cheap price if you tell the contractor they came recommended. The final cost of digital aerial installation will differ from home to home, but generally you should look to pay around £50 to £180 (including parts and an hour’s labour).