How the Digital TV Signal Works

by Stephen Lilley

The Basics

A digital TV signal is a transmission containing audio and video information that is broadcast by a television station and delivered to a user's home, either via cable, satellite TV or a digital antenna. When a television station broadcasts its programming, the signal is taken from its audio and video form and compressed into a signal fit for transmission. The signal is then transmitted to a satellite in space, where it is then sent back down to various television towers all around the country. These towers then broadcast the signal that your antenna picks up in your home. When it gets to your home, the TV tuner converts the signal back into its original audio and video form.

Curve of the Earth

Because the curve of the Earth changes every 60 or so miles, the broadcast range of a digital TV signal would be minuscule without help. TV stations set up broadcast towers in various locations within a certain distance of the station itself to boost the range of the signal. Also, digital antennas on televisions improve the signal strength.


When a television station broadcasts a channel to consumers via cable or satellite television, the audio and video information has to be compressed so it can be sent along with the hundreds of other channels into your home. This causes a decline in image quality in order to successfully broadcast so much information. Digital signals broadcast over the air go out completely uncompressed, which will allow the user to experience better audio and video quality than if he were watching the same channel in any other way, be it on cable, satellite or digital pay television services.

About the Author

Stephen Lilley is a freelance writer who hopes to one day make a career writing for film and television. His articles have appeared on a variety of websites. Lilley holds a Bachelor of Arts in film and video production from the University of Toledo in Ohio.

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