Digital television adapter

A digital television adapter (DTA), commonly known as a converter box, is a television tuner that receives a digital television (DTV) transmission, and converts the digital signal into an analog signal that can be received and displayed on an analog television set. The input digital signal may be over-the-air terrestrial television signals received by a television antenna, or signals from a digital cable system. It normally does not refer to satellite TV, which has always required a set-top box either to operate the big satellite dish, or to be the integrated receiver/decoder (IRD) in the case of direct-broadcast satellites (DBS).

In North America, these ATSC tuner boxes convert from ATSC to NTSC, while in most of Europe and other places such as Australia, they convert from Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) to PAL. Because the DTV transition did nothing to reduce the number of broadcast television system standards (and in fact further complicated them), and due to varying frequency allocations and bandplans, there are many other combinations specific to other countries.

A digital TV converter box

United States

On June 12, 2009, all full-power analog television transmissions ended in the United States. Viewers who watch broadcast television on older analog TV sets must use a DTA. Since many of the low-power TV stations will continue to broadcast in analog for years to come, consumers who watch low-power stations will need an adapter with an analog passthrough feature that allows the viewer to watch both digital and analog signals. Viewers who receive their television signals through cable or satellite were not affected by this change and did not need a digital television adapter (however, see the cable TV exception below). Additionally, viewers who have newer televisions with built-in digital ATSC tuners will not need an external digital television adapter.

The United States government had set up a program to offer consumers a $40 "coupon" which could be used toward the purchase of a coupon-eligible converter box; that program ended in July 2006.


At the Consumer Electronics Association's Entertainment Technology Policy Summit in January 2006, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein said many Americans did not know about the February 17, 2006, deadline for ending analog TV. Furthermore, he said, too many people were still buying analog TV sets, meaning more demand for converter boxes. And even if people found out what they would have to do, converter boxes might not do the job adequately. Tribune Broadcasting chief technology officer Ira Goldstone said just buying a converter box did not necessarily mean getting the latest technology. Bob Seidel of CBS said companies (especially in countries other than the US) might use cheaper tuners, and people would need new television antennas for proper reception. Circuit City Chairman Alan McCollough opposed converter boxes, saying people should just buy digital TVs, and television networks should offer only widescreen-format television programming as an incentive to do that.[1]

Prototypes of the first converter boxes appeared at the NAB show in 2006. LG Electronics, which took over Zenith Electronics in 1999, showed its model connected to a Zenith TV from 1980, while Thomson Consumer Electronics used an RCA TV from 1987 for its demonstration. Both boxes shown used electronic program guides using Program and System Information Protocol (PSIP). The devices showed program details, V-chip ratings and signal strength. Thomson's model stored three days of TV listings, allowed parental controls, and could set a VCR.[2]

Differences for cable customers

Cable TV systems are under no deadline to convert to digital TV. However, many Comcast (and some other cable TV) customers are finding all of their non-local and non-shopping networks eliminated on various dates, even though only a few are needed for additional digital cable channels. CECBs (Coupon-eligible converter boxes) will not work on these systems because cable ATSC uses 256QAM modulation instead of 8VSB, and so a separate but similar DTA with a QAM tuner is necessary. If the cable company takes away analog channels, at least two of these adapters must be provided for free by the cable company for at least three years so that customers can continue to watch the same channels with existing equipment. Cable companies were required to provide some analog service until October 2006.[3] After that, taking away analog channels allowed faster Internet and more HD channels. An adapter from the cable provider was needed even for digital TVs if the company scrambled its digital signals to prevent piracy.[4]

A digital transport adapter will allow viewing of basic channels, often as many as 99, but not premium channels. It will also not allow video on demand or pay-per-view. Simple DTAs only allow analog sets to receive digital signals using RF output on channel 3 or 4, using coaxial cable. Other versions of the DTA are available.[5]

Pace plc developed the XiD-P digital transport adapter for Comcast, allowing 4K service and offering the potential to expand the DTA from one-way to two-way. This would involve adding IP capability.[6]

European Union

Most countries that have switched to digital TV use DVB-T broadcasting with MPEG-2 MP@ML or H.264 encoding. Some, however, consider switching to DVB-T2 such as the UK, being the first to test DVB-T2. This results in a number of different combinations for external digital receivers with the MPEG-2 ones sold at about €15 to €35 and the MPEG-4 ones reaching €25 to €150. Currently, all set top boxes sold in EU cannot exceed 0.5W in stand by mode.


Russia has also introduced digital TV and is now (03.12.2018 – 03.06.2019)[7] ending analog over-the-air transmission. Most new TVs feature a DVB-T2 tuner which allows reception of digital over-the-air TV without need of an external device such a converter box. If using a TV set without a DVB-T2 tuner, an external converter box must be purchased and used. This converter box takes the digital signal from the antenna and outputs composite video (for SD TVs) or HDMI (for HD TVs). The RF/antenna output, if present on the box, is usually just a passthrough ("LOOP OUT" which does not provide the box's output signal, but only provides the raw antenna input signal – to watch analog channels via the TV's tuner if analog broadcast has not ended yet or to connect another DVB-T2 capable device to the same antenna feed) because even older TVs usually have at least composite input; this removes a need for an RF modulator in the converter box.

See also


  1. ^ Dickson, Glen (2006-03-19). "High Hurdles in Digital-TV Race". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-08-12.
  2. ^ Dickson, Glen (2006-04-30). "Old TVs Steal Show at NAB". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-08-12.
  3. ^ Davis, Mark (2015-02-24). "Time Warner Cable changes mean every TV needs a box now". Kansas City Star. Retrieved 2015-08-27.
  4. ^ Lazarus, David (2014-10-24). "Can you go to Best Buy for Time Warner Cable's new box?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-08-27.
  5. ^ "What is a DTA? What channels can I get with a DTA? What about those new HD-DTA?". Retrieved 2015-08-27.
  6. ^ Baumgartner, Jeff (2015-06-01). "New Device Could Speed Comcast's IP-Video Migration". Broadcasting & Cable. p. 9.
  7. ^
  • Request for Comment and Notice of Proposed Rules to Implement and Administer a Coupon Program for Digital-to-Analog Converter Boxes, Docket Number 060512129-6129-01 (Jul. 25, 2006).
ATSC tuner

An ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) tuner, often called an ATSC receiver or HDTV tuner is a type of television tuner that allows reception of digital television (DTV) television channels transmitted by television stations in North America, parts of Central America and South Korea that use ATSC standards. Such tuners may be integrated into a television set, VCR, digital video recorder (DVR), or set-top box that provides audio/video output connectors of various types.

Another type of television tuner is a digital television adapter (DTA) with an analog passthrough.


Addressability is the ability of a digital device to individually respond to a message sent to many similar devices. Examples include pagers, mobile phones and set-top boxes for pay TV. Computer networks are also addressable, such as via the MAC address on Ethernet network cards, and similar networking protocols like Bluetooth. This allows data to be sent in cases where it is impractical (or impossible, such as with wireless devices) to control exactly where or to which devices the message is physically sent.

In the case of simple hardware devices like the pager, the address is simply the electronic serial number (and later IMEI/MEID) in its firmware, or physically manufactured into its circuitry. In the case of GSM mobile phones, it also includes the subscriber identity module, which is also present as a smart card on satellite TV receivers, or a different PCMCIA CableCARD for cable TV. Addressing and encryption are used together for conditional access to different TV channel bundles which a pay-TV customer has or has not paid for.

Addressing is also done in software at higher levels such as IP addresses, which can be dynamically allocated. Even physically separate devices are now addressable, such as to enforce revocation lists for digital restrictions, or to use the former DIVX DVD video rentals (although the latter only used its identity to "phone home" for billing purposes).

Asus EeeBox PC

Asus EeeBox PC (formerly Asus Eee Box) is a nettop computer line from ASUSTeK Computer Incorporated, and a part of the Asus Eee product family. First released on August 11, 2008, the Asus EeeBox PC series is marketed as a small, light, inexpensive and energy-efficient counterpart to the Asus Eee PC netbook / subnotebook laptop series. Its motherboard employs Splashtop technology called Express Gate by Asus.

Cable converter box

A cable converter box or television converter box is an electronic tuning device that transposes/converts any of the available channels from a cable television service to an analog RF signal on a single channel, usually VHF channel 3 or 4, or to a different output for digital televisions such as HDMI. The device allows a television set that is not "cable ready" to receive cable channels. While later televisions were "cable ready" with a standard converter built-in, the existence of premium television (aka pay per view) and the advent of digital cable have continued the need for various forms of these devices for cable television reception. While not an explicit part of signal conversion, many cable converter boxes include forms of descrambling to manage carrier-controlled access restriction to various channels.

Cable-ready televisions and other cable-aware A/V devices such as video recorders can similarly convert cable channels to a regular television set, but these do not include advanced capabilities such as descrambling or digital downconversion.

The task of a cable box is to convert a television channel from those transmitted over the CATV wire.

Cable television

Cable television is a system of delivering television programming to consumers via radio frequency (RF) signals transmitted through coaxial cables, or in more recent systems, light pulses through fiber-optic cables. This contrasts with broadcast television (also known as terrestrial television), in which the television signal is transmitted over the air by radio waves and received by a television antenna attached to the television; or satellite television, in which the television signal is transmitted by a communications satellite orbiting the Earth and received by a satellite dish on the roof. FM radio programming, high-speed Internet, telephone services, and similar non-television services may also be provided through these cables. Analog television was standard in the 20th century, but since the 2000s, cable systems have been upgraded to digital cable operation.

A "cable channel" (sometimes known as a "cable network") is a television network available via cable television. When available through satellite television, including direct broadcast satellite providers such as DirecTV, Dish Network and Sky, as well as via IPTV providers such as Verizon FIOS and AT&T U-verse is referred to as a "satellite channel". Alternative terms include "non-broadcast channel" or "programming service", the latter being mainly used in legal contexts. Examples of cable/satellite channels/cable networks available in many countries are HBO, Cinemax, MTV, Cartoon Network, AXN, E!, FX, Discovery Channel, Canal+, Eurosport, Fox Sports, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, CNN International, and ESPN.

The abbreviation CATV is often used for cable television. It originally stood for Community Access Television or Community Antenna Television, from cable television's origins in 1948. In areas where over-the-air TV reception was limited by distance from transmitters or mountainous terrain, large "community antennas" were constructed, and cable was run from them to individual homes. The origins of cable broadcasting for radio are even older as radio programming was distributed by cable in some European cities as far back as 1924.


When a descrambler is added to the Cable Converter Box in the same chassis, it is referred to as a Converter/Descrambler or sometimes a Combination Unit, and is a type of Set-top box, it allows : local broadcast channels, basic cable channels, authorized premium channels, "Pay-Per-View" (PPV), and “Video On Demand” (VOD) services to be viewed. A Combination Converter/Descrambler is generally called a Set-top box or STB it is a single (one-piece) system installed in a single cabinet and represents a single component that is capable of descrambling premium services, like HBO or Showtime, pay-per-view cable channels., Video on Demand, Games or other specialty pay services, and transposes the cable signal for RF output on channel 3 or 4. This unit contains a converter and a descrambler, enclosed in a common box and outputs the signal directly to your TV, VCR, DVR, PC, DVD or video projector.

Coupon-eligible converter box

A coupon-eligible converter box (CECB) was a digital television adapter that met eligibility specifications for subsidy "coupons" from the United States government. The subsidy program was enacted to provide over-the-air television viewers with an affordable way to continue receiving free digital over-the-air television services after the nation's television service transitioned to digital transmission and analog transmissions ceased. The specification was developed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), with input from the broadcast and consumer electronics industries as well as public interest groups.


DTA may refer to:

Death to America

Deferred tax assets, an accounting concept

Democratic Turnhalle Alliance, a political party in Namibia

Dental Technologists Association

Detainee Treatment Act

Development trust association

Differential thermal analysis

Digital television adapter, a digital-to-analog converter

Digital telephone adapter, (also known as a Telephone VoIP Adapter)

Digital Transgender Archive

Australian Digital Transformation Agency

Digital transport adapter

Divisão de Transportes Aéreos, the former name of TAAG Angola Airlines

Docosatetraenoic acid

Domestic Tariff Area

Don't Trust Anyone, the central theme of clothing company DTA Posse

Double Tax Agreement, another name for a Tax treaty

DownThemAll!, a download manager/accelerator extension for Mozilla Firefox

Downtown Annapolis, Maryland

Duluth Transit Authority

.dta, a file format used by:

Stata, a statistics application

sequest, a tandem mass spectrometry data analysis program used for protein identification

D-threonine aldolase, an enzyme

DTA sarl, a French ultralight aircraft manufacturer

DVD recorder

A DVD recorder is an optical disc recorder that uses optical disc recording technologies to digitally record analog or digital signals onto blank writable DVD media. Such devices are available as either installable drives for computers or as standalone components for use in television studios or home theater systems.

As of March 1, 2007 all new tuner-equipped television devices manufactured or imported in the United States must include an ATSC tuner. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has interpreted this rule broadly, including apparatus such as computers with TV tuner cards with video capture ability, videocassette recorders and standalone DVD recorders. NTSC DVD recorders are undergoing a transformation, either adding a digital ATSC tuner or removing over-the-air broadcast television tuner capability entirely. However, these DVD recorders can still record analog audio and analog video.

Standalone DVD recorders have been relatively scarce in the United States due largely to "restrictions on video recording."


The Digibox is a device marketed by Sky UK in the UK and Ireland to enable home users to receive digital satellite television broadcasts (satellite receiver) from the Astra satellites at 28.2° east. An Internet service is also available through the device, similar in some ways to the American MSN TV. The first Digiboxes shipped to consumers in mid-1998, and the hardware reference design is unchanged since. Compared to other satellite receivers, they are severely restricted.

Lapland Odyssey

Lapland Odyssey (Finnish: Napapiirin sankarit) is a 2010 Finnish comedy film directed by Dome Karukoski. The film stars Jussi Vatanen, Jasper Pääkkönen, Timo Lavikainen, Pamela Tola, Kari Ketonen and Miia Nuutila.

Set-top box

A set-top box (STB) or set-top unit (STU) (one type also colloquially known as a cable box) is an information appliance device that generally contains a TV-tuner input and displays output to a television set and an external source of signal, turning the source signal into content in a form that can then be displayed on the television screen or other display device. They are used in cable television, satellite television, and over-the-air television systems, as well as other uses.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the cost to a cable provider for a set-top box is between $150 for a basic box to $250 for a more sophisticated box in the United States. In 2016, the average pay-TV subscriber paid $231 per year to lease their set-top box from a cable service provider.

Television standards conversion

Television standards conversion is the process of changing one type of television system to another. The most common is from NTSC to PAL or the other way around. This is done so television programs in one nation may be viewed in a nation with a different standard. The video is fed through a video standards converter that changes the video to a different video system.

Converting between different numbers of lines and different frame rates in video pictures is a complex technical problem. However, the international exchange of television programming makes standards conversion necessary and in many cases mandatory.

Tuner (radio)

A tuner is a subsystem that receives radio frequency (RF) transmissions like radio broadcasts and converts the selected carrier frequency and its associated bandwidth into a fixed frequency that is suitable for further processing, usually because a lower frequency is used on the output. Broadcast FM/AM transmissions usually feed this intermediate frequency (IF) directly into a demodulator that convert the radio signal into audio-frequency signals that can be fed into an amplifier to drive a loudspeaker.

More complex transmissions like PAL/NTSC (TV), DAB (digital radio), DVB-T/DVB-S/DVB-C (digital TV) etc. use a wider frequency bandwidth, often with several subcarriers. These are transmitted inside the receiver as an intermediate frequency (IF). The next step is usually either to process subcarriers like real radio transmissions or to sample the whole bandwidth with A/D at a rate faster than the Nyquist rate that is at least twice the IF frequency.

A tuner can also refer to a radio receiver or standalone audio component that are part of an audio system, to be connected to a separate amplifier. The verb tuning in radio contexts means adjusting the radio receiver to receive the desired radio signal carrier frequency that a particular radio station uses.

Digital television in North America
Satellite TV
Technical issues
Network topology
and switching

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