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What is Over-The-Air Television (OTA)?

what is over the air television ota

Technology has provided a wide range of options for entertainment and infotainment. Services such as Over-the-Air Television can be a good alternative to traditional cable TV. If you’re tired of seeing your cable subscription inflate every month, you aren’t the only one.  

The good news is that you can enjoy the same dose of entertainment without worrying about your monthly Spectrum bills. As mentioned, technology has offered a plethora of cable alternatives. Keep reading to know more about how you could benefit from technology.  

What Is Over-The-Air Television?

OTA relies on television signals to broadcast high-definition programming on your home TV. Local television stations transmit the television signals via radio waves. The whole process makes use of a TV receiver that catches the radio waves via an antenna. It is worth mentioning here viewers only had access to OTA till the fifties. The arrival of satellite and cable programming, however, changed all that.  

When Did OTA Originate?

OTA is considered the first television broadcasting to gain mainstream status. It emerged in the late 1930s. The first OTA broadcast took place in Washington D.C. in 1927. It should be noted that OTA doesn’t work without an antenna. On the contrary, television programming powered by Cox bundles does not need an antenna to work.  

Early viewers of television broadcasting often had to adjust their antennas to get good reception for each channel. Still, the picture quality wasn’t that great and viewers had to watch fuzzy pictures on their television screens. Before the arrival of satellite and cable, people had to rely on antennas to get television signals.  

However, the FCC made it mandatory for television companies to introduce satellite programming in 2009. The transition effectively ended the decades-old association with antennas. Though you can still get over-the-air television provided you’re in range of the television stations and have an FCC compatible digital receiver.  

What Are the Pros and Cons of Using OTA?

Perhaps the biggest benefit of using OTA is that it is an inexpensive technology. All you need is a television set and related equipment to watch programming. Also, you don’t need expensive TV or a piece of costly equipment to support OTA needs. If you already have the required equipment, you can watch OTA free of cost.  

However, it should be noted that OTA has some drawbacks. The major drawback is that its signal quality is not that great. Buildings, tall trees, and mountains can hinder signal transmission. Moreover, bad weather conditions can disrupt signal transmission for OTA users. So, make sure to consider the cons before switching to OTA.  

How Good Is the Picture Quality?

Analog antennas were the only source of signal transmission during the early days of television broadcasting. Viewers had to adjust antennas to get good picture quality for each channel. The advent of cable and satellite transmission changed the viewing experience for the better.  

However, that doesn’t mean digital signals provide poor picture quality. If you have a digital receiver, you can get good signal reception. It is safe to say that you can get a wide range of options if you go for providers that offer Optimum TV channels.  

How Many Channels Will I Get?

With OTA, you can get up to 50 channels, and that too for free. There’s no denying that digital broadcasting comes with multiple benefits compared to analog broadcasting. Also, many television manufacturers have introduced built-in technology to support digital programing. Connect it with your favorite streaming service and you’ll be amazed by the result you see.  

What Type of Equipment Do I Need?

Over-the-air television doesn’t work without a digital antenna. That means the digital antenna is the core component for the said television broadcasting. Also, because the installation process is quite easy, you won’t be needing to bring in a technician. You can get a digital antenna from the market for $30-40. 

HD television is another important piece of equipment you should have in your home. In case you don’t have an HD television, don’t worry. You can connect a digital converter box to your television. This way, your television set will be able to read digital signals from the antenna. Alternatively, you could buy a television set built after 2009.  

Television models that came after 2009 are also compatible with the Spectrum TV essentials package. The third piece of equipment you’ll be needing for the OTA is a DVR. The DVR technology allows users to record shows so that they can watch them in their free time. Make sure to get a DVR that is compatible with FCC requirements.  

Can I Use OTA on the Go?

Though OTA does provide some freedom when it comes to viewing, you will need to follow the instructions listed on the user’s manual. You can view OTA programs while traveling or during camping. Also, make sure that you are in the range of a broadcast signal provider when using OTA.  

How to Troubleshoot OTA?

If you’re having difficulty using OTA, don’t worry. You can troubleshoot OTA with these methods. In case you’re seeing fewer channels, adjust your wires and cables. Also, run a quick scan to locate missing channels. In case you are seeing no signal on your television screen, check the input option. Sift through different input options until you see the screen.  


Getting rid of your cable subscription is easy, provided you have the right tools. It is just like using the smartphone app to access Optimum pay bill services. It is advisable to learn the pros and cons of different streaming services before using them. OTA is virtually free of cost and quite easy to install, but it has its drawbacks. On the contrary, it is a viable alternative to cable programming. 

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