How can you tell if you have a digital aerial?


Standard Member
Thinking of getting my Aunt a freeview box for her birthday because she can't get channel 5. Problem is I have no idea how new her aerial is? She lives in a flat so I'm not sure which aerial is hers or indeed if they all share the same one.

I suppose I could try it and then take it back if it didn't work. If this is my only option can anyone recommend an accommodating retailer and appropriate freeview box?


Staff member
There is nothing hugely special about a digital aerial.


All TV aerials are different. The differences are in the spacing and size of the elements. TV programmes are broadcast on a range of frequencies and the different types of aerial are optimised for the different frequencies. In the good old days of channels 1 > 4, all these four channels were, from a given transmitter, broadcast on nearby frequencies. So one optimised aerial worked for all the channels.

Along comes channel 5 (first). Because of broadcast congestion, C5 had to broadcast on a frequency which was, for some transmitters, some way distant from the other four.

The along comes OnDigital and later, Freeview. Again, for the same reason, many transmitters use frequencies some way away from the original four.

All of which is a long way round of saying - although the aerial isn't fundamentally different, in many places you need to repklace the existing (optimised for a narrow band) aerial with a wideband one.

But before any of this, you need to establish which transmitter she is using and/or whether any alternatives serve the area.

Then, from


a) if the transmitter is broadcasting freeview
b) what aerial type (group) is required.

A decent local aerial installer should be able to guide and fit if required, a suitable aerial.


Standard Member
Thanks for the detail Nigel - you have saved me a lot of wasted effort.

It appears that my Aunt's reception is from a relay because her area is shadowed from the main transmitter at Winter Hill. Only the main four analogue channels are transmitted by the relay ie no digital or radio signals and hence her lack of channel 5.

A quick postcode check on the freeview site confirmed no coverage.

gmt steve

Active Member
Well at least she isn't actually missing anything:D


Standard Member
I hear you steve. I'm a sky man myself but to be fair, it is free and it's a lot better than analogue.

I've just down graded to family pack from movies and sport and I'm still wondering if I watch enough of the non FTV channels to justify the cost.

In addition to the main 5 channels BBC3 is sometimes good as is UK History and Sky Sports news. I even catch myself watching ITV2 now and again. Watching Simon Carroll insult Americans is a sort of therapy for me. :zonked:

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