Karim Sunderani flicks by way of channels on a forty-inch excessive-definition flat panel television at his Mississauga electronics store, Save and Replay. The image is crystal clear, the sound powerful.
But the stunning HD images do not come by way of cable or satellite. They arrive over the air. For free.
"All you want is an antenna, identical to in the old days, and an HD television with a digital tuner," says Sunderani, including that he has offered more than 1,000 antennas a month since March.
Whereas there are not any official government or trade figures, electronics stores across the GTA are reporting surges in demand for antennas, metal grids about one metre by half a metre with a number of protruding spokes. No technical savvy needed - simply plug into the again of your HD TV and luxuriate in as many as 18 high-def channels.
And not a cent goes to the cable companies.
"In the poor economy, people are in search of ways to chop back. When they see the clarity you get from HD channels using an antenna, it blows them away," stated Paul Schukow, a salesperson at Radioworld on Steeles Ave. W. in Toronto.
He stated the shop has been selling a whole bunch of antennas each month since last fall.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Fee (CRTC) requires networks to broadcast locally over the air in either analogue or standard definition in order for networks to get pleasure from low channel placement and should-carry status on cable and satellite providers. That means you may decide up the channels without spending a dime if you have an antenna.
This is why you'll be able to pick them up in HD: as of August 2011, all Canadian stations should convert to digital, and excessive definition is changing into the digital standard. The United States is predicted to complete its transition to digital next month.
Sunderani says most individuals with an antenna in the GTA can choose up about 18 HD channels broadcast from towers in Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo. These embody CBC, CTV, World, CityTV, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and PBS.
Customers can count on to spend a mere $fifty five on an indoor hdtv antenna and one other $eight for a very good co-axial cable to run into the again of a television, he says. Some older HD TVs don't have digital ATSC tuners, but a very good digital converter box can repair this and will set you back about $85. Cheaper "rabbit ears" antennas will even pick up just a few HD channels.
Viewers might need to stroll round their houses carrying the antenna to determine where to get the perfect signal, he says.
Jon LeBlanc is the moderator of digitalhome.ca, a well-liked dialogue board concerning the airwaves. He says that, within the 5 years the discussion board has been open, he has seen a "large increase" in interest from folks asking questions on easy methods to make the most of the free HD signals. The Delta, B.C., resident will get 14 HD channels using an antenna and contends the over-the-air alerts he gets are superior in sound and picture to compressed HD indicators from cable and satellite tv for pc providers.
"There has been an unfortunate misconception that one should pay a monthly payment to get tv," says LeBlanc, who has a background in excessive-tech. "What we're seeing is the curtain being drawn back. It is a renaissance."
Hundreds of Canadians are beginning to reject the five hundred-channel universe in favour of a extra "manageable" number of channels with an area flavour, he says. He acknowledges that free signals do not provide the choice of programming that many viewers want, however says over-the-air broadcasts are a menace to cable and satellite providers.
Not so, says Julie Smithers, a spokesperson for Bell TV.
David Purdy, vice-president of video product management for Rogers Communications, says only 6 per cent of TV viewers get their indicators over the air, a number he predicts will decline as Canada switches from analogue to digital.
"The long-time period phenomenon that's been created by each digital cable and the Web is that individuals are demanding more alternative, not much less," he said.
"I consider that a linear tv offering, whether or not that be by an antenna and even satellite, is just not going to satisfy buyer expectations in the quick, medium and long term," he stated, adding that "on demand" functionality is the way forward for digital television.