Reception aerials and coverage

Aerials overview

Do I need an aerial?
Yes. You need an aerial to get Freeview. But first, check your Freeview coverage and see what channels you can receive at your address. While some indoor (portable) aerials will pick up Freeview, for best results, we recommend a roof aerial.

Check your aerial
Make sure your aerial is in good condition, and that your cables are undamaged and connected to the aerial point in your living room. The aerial lead must be securely plugged into the socket in the back of your Freeview TV or recorder.

It’s likely that your existing aerial will work, as long as it’s not out of position or damaged by the weather. Go outside and check that your aerial is pointing in the same direction as others nearby.

Missing channels?
Channels on Freeview can change from time to time – some are removed, new ones are added and channel numbers can change. Once in a while, try retuning your Freeview TV or HD recorder to make sure you have the latest channels.

Installing a new aerial
If your picture quality is poor, you might have a damaged aerial or cable that needs attention from a professional installer. Based on industry guidance, a typical aerial replacement costs £150. However, there can be regional variation and complex installations can cost significantly more. 

Get in touch with either the Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI) or Get Me Digital who can give you details of one or more members who operate in your area and guarantee their work:

Find an approved CAI installer at Get Me Viewing

Find a digital professional at getmedigital.com 

A local installer will understand the circumstances and local geography of your area and suggest the best option for you.

How much should a new roof aerial cost?

If you need a new aerial installation, a typical aerial replacement based on industry guidance, costs £150.

Additional sockets (for other TV sets you own) cost around £45 each.

When it comes to aerial installations and modifications we recommend you always use a qualified aerial professional.

Get in touch with either the Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI) or Get Me Digital who can give you details of one or more members who operate in your area and guarantee their work:

Find an approved CAI installer at Get Me Viewing

Find a digital professional at getmedigital.com 

A local installer will understand the circumstances and local geography of your area and suggest the best option for you.

Would you recommend a signal booster?

A signal booster connects between your aerial and your digital box. It strengthens or amplifies the signal you receive. It will not help if you are not in coverage. Similarly, it won’t help much if you are receiving poor reception because of things around your home such as trees or tall buildings.

It might help though if you are missing some channels due to a slightly weak signal. It is also useful if your rooftop aerial is connected to several TVs, since splitting the aerial (RF) cable to serve several appliances can weaken the signal received by your box.

However, we strongly recommend that you seek advice from a TV engineer, aerial installer or electrical retailer before buying a signal booster.

Can water damage affect my TV reception?

Yes. Coaxial aerial leads can become corroded over time due to water penetration, which is turn may cause interference to your TV signal. This is commonly known as ‘water ingress’.

Below is the BBC’s step-by-step guide to checking for water ingress:

  1.  Unplug the coaxial cable from any outlets or ports into which it is connected.
  2. Remove the connectors from the ends of the coaxial cable. This is the most likely place for moisture to build up.
  3. Examine the tip of the cable – where you just removed the connector – for signs of water damage, such as corrosion.
  4. Look at the entire length of cable for any signs of weakening along the insulated outer layer. Search for cracks or tears to the insulation where moisture may have seeped through to the copper conductor.
  5. Once a cable has water damage, it can no longer carry the signal effectively and should be removed.
  6. Consult a reliable aerial contractor and have it replaced.

You should always contact a professional aerial installer to check cables where connections are not easily accessible (e.g. on a rooftop).

How do I find an aerial installer?

Get in touch with either the Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI) or Get Me Digital who can give you details of one or more members who operate in your area and guarantee their work:

Find an approved CAI installer at Get Me Viewing

Find a digital professional at getmedigital.com 

A local installer will understand the circumstances and local geography in your area and suggest the best option for you.

I live in a flat or housing with a communal aerial. Can I still get Freeview?

If you live in a flat or a building which shares an aerial then talk to your neighbours to find out if they receive Freeview and what the reception is like. If they get good reception then it’s likely that you will too. If they’re not seeing a perfect picture, then the communal aerial might need to be checked by your landlord.

If you don’t quite know what kind of aerial the building has got, or you suspect it hasn’t got an aerial at all, then speak to your landlord.

If you need more advice, we suggest you get in touch with either the Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI) or Get Me Digital who can give you details of one or more members who operate in your area and guarantee their work:

Find an approved CAI installer at Get Me Viewing

Find a digital professional at getmedigital.com 

A local installer will understand the circumstances and local geography in your area and suggest the best option for you.

Can I watch Freeview using a portable set top or loft aerial?

If you live in a coverage area close to a transmitter, you will probably receive a strong signal and a portable set top aerial might work. However, reception could still be unreliable and so we strongly recommend that you use a rooftop aerial for good reception.

Will my loft aerial work?

Because they sit inside a building, they will not receive as strong a digital signal. They’re also more likely to be affected by interference from the other electrical equipment in your home. You might also find that an indoor aerial does not receive the full range of Freeview channels.

However, it may be worth trying before having an aerial survey carried out. If you do want to try this option, and are buying a new loft aerial, do make sure that you can return it to the retailer if you don’t get the reception you expect.

A rooftop aerial is still your best bet for good reception and so we suggest you get in touch with either the Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI) or Get Me Digital who can give you details of one or more members who operate in your area and guarantee their work:

Find an approved CAI installer at Get Me Viewing

Find a digital professional at getmedigital.com 

A local installer will understand the circumstances and local geography in your area and suggest the best option available to you.

Can I get Freeview through my satellite dish?

Freeview is only available through an aerial (for the digitally minded, it’s digital terrestrial television system).

If you are in a Freeview coverage area (use our coverage checker). Most flatscreen TVs have Freeview built in, so all you need to do is plug in the aerial. There’s also a choice of Freeview recorders that you can plug into an existing TV.

If you are struggling with your Freeview coverage, free to view channels are available through a satellite service provider:

How does the Freeview coverage checker predict if I am in coverage?

98.5% of the country can receive Freeview. Our coverage checker uses a database managed by Digital UK which has divided the country into small cells or pixels. Each pixel is 100 metres square. When you put in an address, the checker will give a ‘Yes’ result if a multiplex (a group of channels) is predicted to be available to 70% or more of the area covered by the address and if the coverage in the area is protected from co-channel interference 99% of the time. Please note that it is a prediction. In a few cases the prediction might be wrong.

The coverage checker only gives a ‘No’ result if the information from the database for the address being checked fails to meet the criteria set out above. If there is no data available (for example, if the address is for a new housing estate whose postcode is not in the database) then the coverage checker will say that no information is available.

The database updates on average every 6 months and each update takes into account any changes to the postcode dataset (as supplied by the Royal Mail) as well as any changes to the transmitter network (as advised by Arqiva & SDN who operate the transmitter stations).

Changes to the transmitter network would normally mean either adding new digital transmitter or relay stations or increasing power output at existing stations to allow the signal to travel further.

The database assumes that your aerial is external and mounted at least 10 metres above ground level.

The Freeview predictive coverage checker gives you a good indication of whether you’ll be able to receive Freeview. However it is not a guarantee but a prediction based on an area 100 square metres around your postcode. There might be some properties in this area where Freeview cannot be received, because of the exact location of the property and other factors in the local geography, such as tall buildings, trees or hills.

The coverage checker says Freeview is unavailable in my area, but my neighbour has it.
The Freeview coverage checker is a predictive service check based on the location of your property in relation to the local digital transmitter station and the strength of the transmitter’s signal. In some cases, the signal might carry further than predicted, particularly if there are no geographical features (such as hills or tall trees or buildings) in its path.

However, the signal received within the predicted coverage area may be weak and susceptible to interference. If this is the case, you may still be able to receive Freeview, but you might not see the full range of channels.

We always recommend that you check with your retailer that you can get a refund on your set top box, if these local factors prevent you from receiving Freeview.

For more information on how to get the best Freeview reception in your area we suggest you get in touch with either the Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI) or Get Me Digital who can give you details of one or more members who operate in your area and guarantee their work:

Find an approved CAI installer at Get Me Viewing

Find a digital professional at getmedigital.com 

A local installer will understand the circumstances and local geography in your area and suggest the best option available to you.

 

How do I switch to Freeview?

Switching to Freeview is easy, and the chances are you already have the things you need. All TVs since 2010 have Freeview built in, so only require a working aerial to be plugged into the back. If your TV is older than this, you will need to buy a Freeview box.   Buy HD equipment as this will give access to a wider range of channels.

We recommend a rooftop aerial as they tend to provide a stronger and more consistent signal, but you could test an indoor aerial if you are unsure about your rooftop aerial.

If you would like to be able to record Freeview channels and/or watch catch-up, Freeview HD Recorders and Freeview Play offer simple solutions to this, and can be connected to any HD Ready TV.

If you’re in the market for a new TV, consider buying one with built-in Freeview Play. These are future-proof, offering catch-up services by scrolling back through the TV guide to find what you’ve missed, and other apps and services depending on the manufacturer.

Things to think about

How many TVs do you have in your home?
Remember to consider every TV set that you have in your home.

Do you want to be able to record programmes?
Freeview HD and Freeview Play Recorders make it easy to fit TV to your lifestyle by recording your favourite programmes, series, pausing and rewinding live TV, and Freeview Play also allows you to catch up on demand.

What about your TV aerial?
In most cases your existing aerial will work fine. A few people may need an aerial upgrade.

What about listening to radio?
Freeview gives you access to up to 25 radio stations on your TV, up to 70 TV channels and 15 HD channels*.

If you think you need a new aerial, or repair work carried out,

Get in touch with either the Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI) or Get Me Digital who can give you details of one or more members who operate in your area and guarantee their work:

Find an approved CAI installer at Get Me Viewing

Find a digital professional at getmedigital.com 

A local installer will understand the circumstances and local geography of your area and suggest the best option for you.

*The number of channels available is subject to digital TV coverage at your address.

Related links:
Coverage checker
Available Products