While it could be said that nothing in life comes without some sort of cost, free digital TV can be relatively inexpensive. The digital broadcast signals and the programs they carry can be easily received at no charge; however, you do need a television and an antenna that are capable of picking up and displaying digital signals. Virtually all TVs sold today are equipped with a digital tuner, but if you own an older, analog-style television, you will need an analog to digital converter box. In the United States, these boxes are readily available at most electronics stores.
The other basic criteria for receiving digital TV broadcasts is having an adequate antenna and living within a reasonable distance of a transmission tower. Generally speaking, you should own an antenna that receives both Ultra High Frequency (UHF) and Very High Frequency (VHF) signals. While it is true that most digital signals are broadcast on UHF bands, a few are sent out as VHF. If you live within 60 to 70 miles (96 to 112 kilometers) of a transmission tower, you should be able to receive a signal.
The antenna is as important a part of receiving free digital TV as is the television or tuner box. The further away you live from a transmission tower, the larger and higher your antenna will need to be. If you live in a major city, you should get by just fine with a small, indoor antenna. If you live in a fringe area, then it is best that it be placed on an outdoor mast. Not only should the antenna be above your roofline, it should also be located away from power lines and any obstructions that could block the signal.
Most cable and satellite television providers send their signals in a digital format, and in this case, you have no need to buy an additional digital-ready TV or antenna. These services come at a price though — unlike over-the-air signals, this service isn't free. Digital programming acquired via over-the-air antenna includes the offerings of all the major networks. If you are not interested in getting hundreds of channels, or the premium movie options available through cable and satellite providers, free digital TV may an acceptable option.