What Is the HDTV Frequency Band?

By Gerry Poulos

While HDTV changed television, it did not change television frequencies.
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The transition to digital television brought new technologies to consumers. One of the most popular was the ability to broadcast and receive different video formats, including standard- , enhanced- and high-definition TV. The frequencies for these broadcast formats are a mystery to most consumers.


In digital television, just as in analog, a station broadcasts on a radio frequency. This frequency is modulated, or varied. These variations are what transfer information. Since the beginning of analog TV, the way these modulation were done remained unchanged. DTV updated these modulations to modern standards, making them more efficient and able to carry information for everything from multicasting to HDTV.


Television stations on channels 2 through 13 broadcast in the VHF band, which ranges from 54 megahertz (MHz) to 216 MHz. The FCC assigns each station a specific frequency band for its main carrier signal to ensure stations don't overlap. Each individual VHF station's HDTV broadcasts are transmitted within the station's assigned frequency band.


Stations on channels 14 and up broadcast on the UHF band, which is from 470 MHz to 806 MHz. Like VHF stations, UHF stations are assigned a specific frequency band in which to broadcast their main carrier signals which, also like VHF, carries all that station's broadcasts, including HDTV.