Typical Brisbane pre-Digital antenna

Do I Need to Get a Digital Antenna?

The short answer is no!

There is no such thing as a Digital TV Antenna! To be able to get good Digital TV reception you simply need an antenna that is receiving good quality signal at the frequencies the stations use in your location. In some areas a combination of VHF and UHF are used. In other areas only UHF is used.

Why do some new antennas for Digital TV look so different to older antennas?

Prior to the completion of the digital switchover TV stations used  one of five available frequency bands. These were:

  • VHF Band I(1) (Channels 0-2)
  • VHF Band II(2) (Channels 3-5A)
  • VHF Band III(3) (Channels 6-12)
  • UHF Band IV(4) (Channels 25-35)
  • UHF Band V (5)(Channels 36-69)

Typically, most stations in capital cities were on VHF Band 1, 3 and 4.  Band 1 is at a much lower frequency than band 3 and 4. Antennas designed for Band 1 require long(up to 2 metres) metal cross pieces, called elements. Higher frequencies require progressively shorter elements, with UHF elements for band 4 being quite short, around 10cm.

Most antennas in capital cities of Australia are VHF/UHF combinations of a type called a log periodic. These usually comprise of between 6 and 30 elements of varying lengths for different frequencies. With the elimination of VHF band 1 and 2 as part of the digital switchover, the longest elements of a VHF/UHF combo antenna are no longer required. This means new antennas designed solely for Digital TV can be much smaller.

So do I need a new antenna for Digital TV?

Not necessarily. In most cases as long as your existing antenna is in good condition it will be perfectly fine for Digital TV. For instance, if you are in a capital city and have a typical VHF/UHF combo antenna, generally it will still work. In other areas, as long as your antenna has good coverage of the band in use, again your existing antenna should work.

If it works there’s no reason to change.

Digital TV reception problems manifest themselves as blockiness or complete freezing of picture momentarily, along with audio scratchiness. If you do experience these issues then it’s possible there are faults somewhere in your TV Antenna or cabling. There are a number of different things that could cause the problem, not just the aerial.

Why do installers and shops advertise Digital Antennas?

It’s basically just a marketing thing. The former Labor Government Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Conroy addressed the issue in an interview broadcast on Radio National, talking about the costs of the switchover:

James Carleton: Of a new digital aerial?

Stephen Conroy: Well, there’s no such thing as a digital aerial. That’s one of the misconceptions…

See this link for the full interview and transcript.


There’s no such thing as a Digital Aerial or Digital TV Antenna. If your existing antenna works well with your Digital TVs, there’s no reason to change. If you get breakups or freezing, then there may be something wrong with the TV Antenna or its cabling or something else.