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Terrestrial television is a type of television broadcasting in which the television signal is transmitted by radio waves from the terrestrial (Earth-based) transmitter of a television station to a TV receiver having an antenna. The term terrestrial is more common in Europe and Latin America, while in the United States it is called broadcast or over-the-air television (OTA). The term "terrestrial" is used to distinguish this type from the newer technologies of satellite television (direct broadcast satellite or DBS television), in which the television signal is transmitted to the receiver from an overhead satellite; cable television, in which the signal is carried to the receiver through a cable; and Internet Protocol television, in which the signal is received over an Internet stream or on a network utilizing the Internet Protocol. Terrestrial television stations broadcast on television channels with frequencies between about 52 and 600 MHz in the VHF and UHF bands. Since radio waves in these bands travel by line of sight, reception is generally limited by the visual horizon to distances of 40–60 miles (64–97 km), although under better conditions and with tropospheric ducting, signals can sometimes be received hundreds of miles distant.[1]

Terrestrial television was the first technology used for television broadcasting. The BBC began broadcasting in 1929 and by 1930 many radio stations had a regular schedule of experimental television programmes. However, these early experimental systems had insufficient picture quality to attract the public, due to their mechanical scan technology, and television did not become widespread until after World War II with the advent of electronic scan television technology. The television broadcasting business followed the model of radio networks, with local television stations in cities and towns affiliated with television networks, either commercial (in the US) or government-controlled (in Europe), which provided content. Television broadcasts were in black and white until the transition to color television in the 1950s and 60s.[2]

There was no other method of television delivery until the 1950s with the beginnings of cable television and community antenna television (CATV). CATV was, initially, only a re-broadcast of over-the-air signals. With the widespread adoption of cable across the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, viewing of terrestrial television broadcasts has been in decline; in 2018, it was estimated that about 14% of US households used an antenna.[3][4] However in certain other regions terrestrial television continue to be the preferred method of receiving television, and it is estimated by Deloitte as of 2020 that at least 1.6 billion people in the world receive at least some television using these means.[5] The largest market is thought to be Indonesia, where 250 million people watch through terrestrial.

By 2019, over-the-top media service (OTT) which is streamed via the internet had become a common alternative.[6]

Analogue terrestrial television

Rooftop television antennas like these are required to receive terrestrial television in fringe reception areas far from the television station.

Europe

Following the ST61 conference, UHF frequencies were first used in the UK in 1964 with the introduction of BBC2. In UK, VHF channels were kept on the old 405-line system, while UHF was used solely for 625-line broadcasts (which later used PAL colour). Television broadcasting in the 405-line system continued after the introduction of four analogue programmes in the UHF bands until the last 405-line transmitters were switched off on January 6, 1985. VHF Band III was used in other countries around Europe for PAL broadcasts until planned phase-out and switch over to digital television.

The success of analogue terrestrial television across Europe varied from country to country. Although each country had rights to a certain number of frequencies by virtue of the ST61 plan, not all of them were brought into service.

Americas

In 1941, the first NTSC standard was introduced by the National Television System Committee. This standard defined a transmission scheme for a black and white picture with 525 lines of vertical resolution at 60 fields per second. In the early 1950s, this standard was superseded by a backwards-compatible standard for color television. The NTSC standard was exclusively being used in the Americas as well as Japan until the introduction of digital terrestrial television (DTT). While Mexico have ended all its analogue television broadcasts and the US and Canada have shut down nearly all of their analogue TV stations, the NTSC standard continues to be used in the rest of Latin American countries while testing their DTT platform.[7]

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Advanced Television Systems Committee developed the ATSC standard for digital high definition terrestrial transmission. This standard was eventually adopted by many American countries, including the United States, Canada, Dominican Republic, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras; however, the three latter countries ditched it in favour of ISDB-Tb.[8][9]

The Pan-American terrestrial television operates on analog channels 2 through 6 (VHF-low band, 54 to 88 MHz, known as band I in Europe), 7 through 13 (VHF-high band, 174 to 216 MHz, known as band III elsewhere), and 14 through 51 (UHF television band, 470 to 698 MHz, elsewhere bands IV and V). Unlike with analog transmission, ATSC channel numbers do not correspond to radio frequencies. Instead, a virtual channel is defined as part of the ATSC stream metadata so that a station can transmit on any frequency but still show the same channel number.[10] Additionally, free-to-air television repeaters and signal boosters can be u

Terrestrial television was the first technology used for television broadcasting. The BBC began broadcasting in 1929 and by 1930 many radio stations had a regular schedule of experimental television programmes. However, these early experimental systems had insufficient picture quality to attract the public, due to their mechanical scan technology, and television did not become widespread until after World War II with the advent of electronic scan television technology. The television broadcasting business followed the model of radio networks, with local television stations in cities and towns affiliated with television networks, either commercial (in the US) or government-controlled (in Europe), which provided content. Television broadcasts were in black and white until the transition to color television in the 1950s and 60s.[2]

There was no other method of television delivery until the 1950s with the beginnings of cable television and community antenna television (CATV). CATV was, initially, only a re-broadcast of over-the-air signals. With the widespread adoption of cable across the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, viewing of terrestrial television broadcasts has been in decline; in 2018, it was estimated that about 14% of US households used an antenna.[3][4] However in certain other regions terrestrial television continue to be the preferred method of receiving television, and it is estimated by Deloitte as of 2020 that at least 1.6 billion people in the world receive at least some television using these means.[5] The largest market is thought to be Indonesia, where 250 million people watch through terrestrial.

By 2019, over-the-top media service (OTT) which is streamed via the internet had become a common alternative.[6]

Following the ST61 conference, UHF frequencies were first used in the UK in 1964 with the introduction of BBC2. In UK, VHF channels were kept on the old 405-line system, while UHF was used solely for 625-line broadcasts (which later used PAL colour). Television broadcasting in the 405-line system continued after the introduction of four analogue programmes in the UHF bands until the last 405-line transmitters were switched off on January 6, 1985. VHF Band III was used in other countries around Europe for PAL broadcasts until planned phase-out and switch over to digital television.

The success of analogue terrestrial television across Europe varied from country to country. Although each country had rights to a certain number of frequencies by virtue of the ST61 plan, not all of them were brought into service.

Americas

In 1941, the first NTSC standard was introduced by the National Television System Committee. This standard defined a transmission scheme for a black and white picture with 525 lines of vertical resolution at 60 fields per second. In the early 1950s, this standard was superseded by a backwards-compatible standard for color television. The NTSC standard was exclusively being used in the Americas as well as Japan until the introduction of digital terrestrial television (DTT). While Mexico have ended all its analogue television broadcasts and the US and Canada have shut down nearly all of their analogue TV stations, the NTSC standard continues to be used in the rest of Latin American countries while testing their DTT platform.[7]

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Advanced Television Systems Committee developed the ATSC standard for digital high definition terrestrial transmission. This standard was eventually adopted by many American countries, including the United States, Canada, Dominican Republic, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras; however, the three latter countries ditched it in favour of ISDB-Tb.[8][9]

The Pan-American terrestrial television operates on analog channels 2 through 6 (VHF-low band, 54 to 88 MHz, known as band I in Europe), 7 through 13 (VHF-high band, 174 to 216 MHz, known as band III elsewhere), and 14 through 51 (UHF television band, 470 to 698 MHz, elsewhere bands IV and V). Unlike with analog transmission, ATSC channel numbers do not correspond to radio frequencies. Instead, a virtual channel is defined as part of the ATSC stream metadata so that a station can transmit on any frequency but still show the same channel number.NTSC standard was introduced by the National Television System Committee. This standard defined a transmission scheme for a black and white picture with 525 lines of vertical resolution at 60 fields per second. In the early 1950s, this standard was superseded by a backwards-compatible standard for color television. The NTSC standard was exclusively being used in the Americas as well as Japan until the introduction of digital terrestrial television (DTT). While Mexico have ended all its analogue television broadcasts and the US and Canada have shut down nearly all of their analogue TV stations, the NTSC standard continues to be used in the rest of Latin American countries while testing their DTT platform.[7]

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Advanced Television Systems Committee developed the ATSC standard for digital high definition terrestrial tra

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Advanced Television Systems Committee developed the ATSC standard for digital high definition terrestrial transmission. This standard was eventually adopted by many American countries, including the United States, Canada, Dominican Republic, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras; however, the three latter countries ditched it in favour of ISDB-Tb.[8][9]

The Pan-American terrestrial television operates on analog channels 2 through 6 (VHF-low band, 54 to 88 MHz, known as band I in Europe), 7 through 13 (VHF-high band, 174 to 216 MHz, known as band III elsewhere), and 14 through 51 (UHF television band, 470 to 698 MHz, elsewhere bands IV and V). Unlike with analog transmission, ATSC channel numbers do not correspond to radio frequencies. Instead, a virtual channel is defined as part of the ATSC stream metadata so that a station can transmit on any frequency but still show the same channel number.[10] Additionally, free-to-air television repeaters and signal boosters can be used to rebroadcast a terrestrial television signal using an otherwise unused channel to cover areas with marginal reception. (see Pan-American television frequencies for frequency allocation charts)[11]

Analog television channels 2 through 6, 7 through 13, and 14 through 51 are only used for LPTV translator stations in the U.S. Channels 52 through 69 are still used by some existing stations, but these channels must be vacated if telecommunications companies notify the stations to vacate that signal spectrum. By convention, broadcast television signals are transmitted with horizontal polarization.

Terrestrial television broadcast in Asia started as early as 1939 in Japan through a series of experiments done by NHK Broadcasting Institute of Technology. However, these experiments were interrupted by the beginning of the World War II in the Pacific. On February 1, 1953, NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) began broadcasting. On August 28, 1953, Nippon TV (Nippon Television Network Corporation), the first commercial television broadcaster in Asia was launched. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Alto Broadcasting System (now ABS-CBN Corporation), the first commercial television broadcaster in Southeast Asia, launched its first commercial terrestrial television station DZAQ-TV on October 23, 1953, with the help of Radio Corporation of America (RCA).

Digital terrestrial television