Like most everyone else you probably saw the commercials when the USA switched from analogue to digital terrestrial over the air television signals in 2009. If you looked into it before you realised it didn’t apply to you in Surrey or Moncton then the simple notice is that it now does apply to you and those things you read then should help you now.
If you get your television channels via cable, satellite or IPTV then this won’t affect you as you are already receiving a digital signal and via a different method.
If you get your television signal via the classic ‘rabbit ears’ or a roof-top antenæ then this will probably affect you. In the USA the switch did not apply to Low Power stations. A similar principle is being applied in Canada where only large markets are presently required to make the change. That means if you watch CFTO in Toronto or CICT in Calgary you will need to be able to receive a digital signal but if you watch CICI in Sudbury or CHEX in Peterborough you will still be able to receive an analogue signal. For details on which stations are required to make the switch see the CRTC ruling from March of this year.
For information on when each station will make the switch to digital broadcasting consult the links below.
Rogers / Citytv – http://www.citytv.com/toronto/static/126303
Bell / CTV & CTV two – http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/corp/CTVShows/20110419/digital-switch-chart/20110419/
CBC & SRC – http://www.cbc.radio-canada.ca/newsreleases/pdf/dtv_plan.pdf or for a page in which you can select a very detailed map of CBC & SRC coverage for your area http://www.cbc.radio-canada.ca/dtv/coverageMaps.shtml#coverageMapAnchor
If you wish to continue receiving terrestrial over the air tv signals then you will need a tv with a digital tuner (ATSC, typically built in to all HDTVs these days) or a digital-to-analogue signal converter which you would attach to your current tv much like you would a digital cable tv box. Often you will need an antenæ as signal reception will be different with digital. Whether the antenæ be mounted on your roof or more like conventional ‘rabbit ears’ will depend on your exact situation.
One thing to be aware of is that just because you can receive the analogue signal of your local stations now does not mean you will be in range of the digital signal. If you find yourself unable to receive terrestrial over the air signal and want to make the switch to cable, satellite, or IPTV (not available in all areas of even some of the biggest cities due to existing infrastructure limitations) here are some links to your options
With the cable companies you will need to check on their website for confirmation that they service your neighbourhood (usually done by entering your postal code). To give an idea of what is available where i have included the general parts of the country in which each company is available. Almost every town and city in Canada has only one cable tv provider, with Hamilton and Vancouver being two cities in which more than one cable company operate. There still are many smaller cable companies out there and it was too much to list all of them though i tried to cover much of the country.
- Access - http://www.myaccess.ca (a non-profit co-op that services Saskatchewan)
- Cogeco – http://www.cogeco.ca/web (eastern Ontario and Quebec)
- Dery Telecom – http://www.derytele.com/television/index_num.php (Quebec)
- Eastlink – http://www.eastlink.ca/ (most smaller towns in BC, Alberta, Manitoba, and some in Ontario as well as Prince Edward Island)
- Execulink – http://www.execulink.ca/residential/television/index.php (Kitchener, Ontario)
- MTS – http://www.mts.ca/tv/ -(the cities and bigger towns in Manitoba)
- Nexicom – http://www.nexicom.net/residential/cable/ (City Of Kawartha Lakes [fka Victoria County], Ontario)
- Rogers – http://www.rogers.com/web/Rogers.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PTV_Landing (most of Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Labrador)
- Seaside Communications – http://www.seaside.ns.ca/tv_channels.html (Nova Scotia)
- Shaw – http://www.shaw.ca/ (most cities in BC and Alberta, Winnipeg and area, Manitoba, as well as Sault Ste Marie, Kenora, and part of Hamilton, Ontario – http://www.shawhamilton.ca/)
- Source – http://sourcecable.ca/residential-tv.html (Niagara region of Ontario save for the part of Hamilton serviced by Shaw)
- Sun Country Cablevision – http://www.sunwave.net/ (based in Salmon Arm, BC)
- Télédistribution Amos Inc. – http://www.cableamos.com/tv01.php (Amos, Landrienne, St-Marc, St-Félix de Dalquier, St-Mathieu, La Motte, Trécesson, and Barraute, Quebec)
- Westman – http://www.westmancom.com/index.php?id=136 (smaller towns in Manitoba)
The satellite tv companies are generally available in most of the country, with the main concerns being a line of sight from your residence to the signal from the satellite and the ability to install a satellite dish. If you live in the eastern half of the country you need a clear line of sight to the west; if you live in the west you need a line of sight facing to the east. Exact angles will depend on how far north you live and just how far west you are. If you own your home then installing a dish is no concern. If you live in a condominium or apartment you would need permission to have the dish installed. Most large apartment buildings have their own satellite dish already installed on the roof and you would simply need to be connected to it. That does of course pre-determine who the service provider would be.
- Bell - http://www.bell.ca/shopping/PrsShpTv_AIO_Pkg.page
- Shaw – http://www.shawdirect.ca/english/default.asp
- Telus - http://www.telus.com/content/tv/sat/
IPTV is the acronym for internet protocol television. It means that your tv signal comes to your home via the internet rather than traditional cable or satellite. Different companies brand the service differently. Bell calls it Fibre TV while Telus calls it Optix. In the USA Verizon calls their service FiOS. All refer to the fibre optic ‘cable / wire’ that is used to transmit the signal. Terrestrial transmission of signals by cable companies is often done via fibre optic because it is that fast. That all sounds amazing but there are a couple of conditions. First, you do have to have your internet service from the same company. The second is that not all places have the infrastructure in place to support this service. I live in a big city and it is advertised here. But i am in an older neighbourhood and it is not technically available to me.
- Bell - http://fibetv.bell.ca/en/features/overview/
- Sasktel – http://www.sasktel.com/search/controller/_/Tab-4294966321/Ntt-lob-personal-max?Link=LOBMax&campaign=Home
- Telus - http://www.telus.com/content/tv/optik/index.jsp
There is of course the option to just wait and see what happens on 31 August for you and your tv signal. If you find yourself with no signal know that it could be anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks before an installer from a service provider could fit you in to their schedule. Considering that is the week the new season of Canadian tv starts you might miss the first episodes of new shows if you are not prepared.