The free television signal received by Carbon County residents for the last 50 years has been broadcast via an analog transmission system.
Analog signals contain only video signals transmitted through the air.
Carbon County is now broadcasting, on a test basis, free over the air digital television channels from its Star Point, Ford Ridge and Helper communication sites.
Carbon County is currently broadcasting Salt Lake City Channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16 and 30, according to the local government's website.
"When the project is finished, sometime before February 2009, almost every home in the Carbon County area will have the capability of receiving free, over the air digital television channels, each which has one more sub-channel for a total of 22 free channels," said the site.
In December 1996, the Federal Communications Commission approved plans for a new era of television, directing broadcasters to transition from analog technology to digital broadcast by 2009, according to the Utah Education Network.
In a digital system, images and sounds are captured and transmitted using the same digital technology found in computers.
A digital signal is able to produce a good picture regardless of the atmospheric conditions, signal level or terrain given that it is a series of codes and instructions that are deciphered by the digital television receiver. Regardless of the strength of the digital television signal, the codes are still the codes.
Digital broadcast technology provides much higher quality and clarity than analog television. Programs broadcast at the highest level of quality are referred to as High Definition or HD.
With up-to-date television sets or digital tuners, viewers will be able to receive crystal clear pictures, which will be displayed in a wide screen format with surround sound quality.
Carbon County officials remind residents that the channels are in the testing phase and may be changed or even turned off at times.
Residents will need the following equipment to use the new digital signal.
A reasonably good UHF television antenna and feed line made of coaxial cable.
If split to more than one television a good low-noise UHF pre-amp or a distribution amp will be needed.
Position the antenna's orientation so it faces one of the transmitting sites.
One thing to remember while testing the antenna is that a reasonably good analog picture will be a perfect digital picture, according to the site.
A television with a built in receiver labeled ATSC or a stand alone digital ATSC box that will sit on top of the regular analog television.
Most large screen TVs on the market have a built in ATSC or digital receiver) built in. If buying a new TV be sure to look for the ATSC option listed on the box or display. Sets that are labeled HDTV monitor or HDTV ready, most likely do not have a digital receiver. The officials at Carbon County recommend asking the retailer if the set is digital signal ready before making a purchase.
According to the Carbon site, the set top boxes for those televisions without digital tuners run approximately $200 dollars at local retailers and up-state.
The United States government has sold off television channels 51 through 69, for cell phone usage. The new digital TV technology is not affected like analog TV by other television transmitters outside a given distance which lets the same amount of bandwidth be used for numerous channels.
While broadcasting companies are being forced by the FCC to change over to the digital format it will come at no cost to the viewing public and will dramatically enhance the quality of television for all those who enjoy over the air broadcast.
Multicasting is a new technology that allows several programs to be broadcast simultaneously.
"Just as a museum cannot display all of its collections at one time, a broadcaster has many more hours of programming and services than it has airtime," said the Utah education site. "Through multicasting broadcasters have the ability to broadcast a children's program and at the same time that it airs workforce training or a college course can also be shown."
According to the site, most of the state is ready to make the transfer to digital broadcasting and Carbon County is leading the way.