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Frequently Asked Questions

 With the uptake of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and the sales of Set Top Boxes (STB) on the increase throughout the UK, the office of the CAI is being inundated with questions from the public who have either purchased, or are about to purchase a STB requesting advice and assistance. To that end, we have listed some of the most frequently asked questions below.

Am I likely to need a new aerial?

The aerial installer or retailer won't be able to tell with 100% accuracy without visiting your home and testing the existing installation, but the post-code predictions, coupled with local knowledge, should give a strong indication.

As there appears to be a number of aerials for digital TV on sale in catalogues and DIY stores, is upgrading my aerial a job I can do myself?

The CAI does not advocate aerial installation to be a DIY job for a number of reasons.

Firstly there is obvious Health and Safety aspects that trained installers are equipped to deal with. Secondly CAI engineers carry the necessary signal test meters essential for establishing the amount of signal present at your location. This enables them to ascertain the type of aerial required for your situation. However, we do acknowledge a large number of householders enjoy the challenge of such jobs and there is a wide choice of equipment available for DIY signal distribution projects. Our advice is to consult the CAI Benchmarked Aerial and Cable lists and identify these against your source of supply.

A number of CAI manufacturing and distributor members have websites that may help you.

Please bear in mind that in the event of failure, CAI installer members you call to rectify problems may be reluctant to utilise equipment you purchased as they cannot offer the CAI mandatory 12-month guarantee on equipment they have not supplied.

Can I connect my Freeview box to an existing Satellite Dish on my house or do I need to connect it to an aerial?

Freeview is delivered through the terrestrial aerial network in the UK and so therefore will require a suitable aerial.

Can I receive digital TV from my aerial where I live, do I live within the digital TV coverage area?

Not all areas of the United Kingdom can receive digital reception as yet, to ascertain whether or not digital reception is available in your area check the predicted coverage for your postcode here.

Can I use an indoor set-top aerial with my Freeview receiver?

There is considerable government inspired research going on looking into the effectiveness of set-top or room aerials. They are common in dwellings where access to signal from outdoor aerials or signal networks is difficult. Unfortunately the ‘unforgiving’ nature of digital makes indoor reception very problematic. The same can also be true of loft or roof space aerials.

Do you advise or give assistance via the telephone with the setting up of Freeview boxes etc,.

We do not have a customer call centre, in practice it has been proven that your 'local' CAI Installing Member is the best person equipped to answer your question, because his reply will be based on local knowledge and experience.

Does the CAI install aerials?

The Confederation of Aerial Industries is the UK's Trade Association for the Aerial and Satellite Industry; we train the industry on best installation practices as well as producing Codes of Practices that our Members must adhere too.

Having accepted that I need to upgrade my aerial to receive Freeview how much is this likely to cost?

The CAI as a trade association cannot give strict price guidelines. However, we are well aware of the prices charged by installers regionally across the UK. The government has issued various consultation documents that mention the subject of aerial upgrade prices. The average cost for a standard aerial upgrade for a single digital receiver could be between £80 and £190, depending upon where you live and the type of aerial you need for the conditions in your area. Contact your local CAI member for a more accurate estimate.

How much does it cost to supply and fit an aerial?

There are many factors to consider when installing an aerial.

  •   Wall or chimney mounting, is there an overhang on either? this will determine the size and type of bracketry.
  •   How high does the mast need to be to 'clear all obstructions'? sizes vary between 3ft and 20ft.
  •   What level of signal is available at your location? this will help determine the size and type of aerial required.
  •   Does the aerial need a Masthead Amplifier? this will be dependant on the incoming signal levels.

There are probably 30 - 40 different combinations and therefore 30 - 40 different prices. Biggest is not always best. Contact your local installer more specific 'local knowledge' and an idea of the prices you can expect to pay at your location.

The CAI is the Trade Association for the Aerial and Satellite Industry, the 'CAI' does not install aerials or satellite equipment.

I have freeview, but the reception from the outside aerial is poor, are you the company that changes the aerial?

The Confederation of Aerial Industries does not get involved with physical installations, this is carried out by our Installing Members.

I have just checked my postcode to see if I can get freeview in my area and was told no. Could you tell me when it will be available in my area?

Prior to the launch of Freeview, National Grid Wireless (formerly Crown Castle UK) the company responsible for providing transmission services for the Freeview service, made a number of improvements to the transmitter network, the end result being an improvement in the robustness of the signal and an increase in overall coverage. National Grid Wireless will continue to make improvements to the Freeview network to improve the quality of the signal and increase coverage but, regrettably, National Grid Wireless are unable to give a definitive timescale as to when Freeview will be available in areas that cannot currently receive it.

I have just checked to see if I can use a Freeview system, but have been informed that I need an aerial upgrade. However, I live in a block of flats and share a communal aerial. Can you please advise?

 A communal aerial system (MATV System), normally comprises of one aerial feeding several dwellings via a network of cabling. If your MATV System is unable to deliver the digital signals to your dwelling then it possibly means that the aerial system needs upgrading. You will need to contact the person responsible for the maintenance of the aerial system; that could be your Local Authority, your Housing Association or your Private Landlord. You cannot upgrade just one point; the whole system will need to be upgraded.

I have just purchased a Freeveiw box, do I need a rooftop aerial or can it be run through cable?

Freeview is delivered through the terrestrial aerial network in the UK and so therefore will require a suitable aerial.

I know I need a new aerial and I am thinking of having a CAI Benchmarked Aerial fitted although I will not be getting a digital TV/Tuner for a while yet. Can I get reception for the analogue channels as normal with a CAI Benchmarked Aerial?

Yes, the frequency range in the UK for analogue and digital television is 470MHz - 860MHz, more commonly known as Channels 21 - 68. Care should be taken when selecting the correct Aerial Grouping, 'A', 'B', 'C/D' or 'Wideband', and this could depend on local factors, hills, valleys, trees, tall buildings and local obstacles in relation to where you live and the transmitter that covers your area. Your local CAI Member is the best person to answer such a 'local' question.

If I find I might need a new aerial, what do I then do?

Ask your retailer if there is a scheme which forms part of the service. Some retailers have made arrangements for an initial visit, followed by a new aerial installation where necessary. Ask them to explain their service, what guarantees it carries, and what it might cost.

Remember to ask whether the installer will be a CAI member.

Is it possible to have Freeview in France?

Freeview is delivered through the terrestrial aerial transmitter network in the UK and it is therefore not possible to receive these signals across the English Channel in France or bordering countries.

Is the CAI responsible for digital signal levels, and when will the signal level be increased?

No, the Confederation of Aerial Industries is not responsible for the digital signal levels neither is it responsible for power increases or the coverage of the digital signal. These tasks are the responsibility of National Grid Wireless

I’ve been told I’m in the coverage area for Freeview but having installed my Freeview box a number of channels are missing and others are breaking up what can I do to cure this?

Most Freeview problems are related to poor signal quality from existing aerials. If your aerial was installed many years ago or has started to give poor results on analogue broadcasts, then you need a local CAI installer member to advise you on a replacement aerial suitable for the area in which you live. Analogue signal trouble usually shows up as ‘grainy’ or ‘snowy’ pictures, that many of us tolerate. Digital is ‘unforgiving’ in that the picture breaks up or fails completely. For other troubleshooting tips log onto www.bbc.co.uk/reception

Please could you advise me on how I can check to see if my current aerial will work with Freeview or do I need to replace it?

Without putting test equipment on the end of your aerial lead there is no way of knowing if your particular aerial will receive all the digital multiplexes, no matter how 'new' your aerial looks. If you require your aerial to be tested contact your local CAI Member and arrange a visit, but please be aware that you are likely to be charged a fee for doing so. If it is found that you do require a new aerial and the engineer is able to install one 'there and then', the fee for testing is more than likely to be waived.

What does the CAI installing member offer the consumer?

  • Quality service, backed by Codes of Practice and Conduct
  • Trained installers who understand digital transmission and reception
  • Installers with the relevant testing equipment
  • The installation of quality aerials and cabling
  • Installers with relevant insurance

Where can I find a CAI installing member for my area?

Use our Member Search at the top of each page of this site to find a member near you.


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