If you think about it, a TV is like a giant smartphone.
It has a large glass screen, lots of hidden electronics and a back made out of plastic.
Smartphones have their antennas on the inside—that’s how they receive calls—but for a TV, the hdtv antenna has to be hooked up on the outside.
Why is that? If a mobile phone can use an internal antenna, then surely a TV ought to as well, particularly since they’re stationary.
A bit of research yielded the following: placing antennas inside the mobile phone is a horrible, horrible, horrible idea. But it happened because of consumer preference.
Once upon a time mobile phone antennas protruded outside the phone body. They stuck out like a sore thumb. And the reason for that was good engineering: all the metal and electrical guts inside the phone interfere with reception.
You might recognize an early design like this: [photo of a 1980s cell phone]
As designs changed, external antennas became considered ugly. Cell phone makers banished the antenna to deep inside the phone, never to be seen again, and suddenly consumers began to complain about poor reception and lots of dropped calls.
And as you can tell by the mobile phone in your pocket, external antennas were not resurrected.
Instead, the FCC began auctioning off more bandwidth in 1993 to wireless service providers. They realized that if wireless providers switched to higher frequencies, presto: reception problem fixed. So carriers invested in the spectrum, and cell phone makers kept the antennas on the inside even though it makes zero engineering sense.
It’s a great example of invisible mountains being moved all for the sake of what makes a product look good.
So, let’s bring this back to the hdtv antenna.
It’s possible that television broadcasters could do the same thing the mobile industry did, and petition for additional high-frequency spectrum. That would be expensive though, and possibly require TV broadcast tower owner to update their infrastructure.
TV manufacturers would also then have to build antennas inside their TVs, which would also be expensive, and what incentive would they have to do so?
Remember that the reason for the mobile phone antenna relocation was aesthetics. They didn’t look pretty. And if people wanted their cell phone antenna to be sleek, minimal and unobtrusive, then they would probably want an indoor hdtv antenna that is sleek, minimal and unobtrusive.
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