Is there any hope for watching TV in a moving car?

Here’s one way we’ve actually gone backwards. Believe it or not it was possible before TV went digital, but today if you are moving faster than about 15 miles per hour, broadcast TV magically stops working.

Look, it’s not like you’re supposed to be watching TV in a moving car, but at least your passengers could be, and if you have an RV this is kind of a big thing for the folks in the back, right?

When broadcast TV went digital, the new standard was designed to be super stable for home use, but at that time it wasn’t possible to also make it super stable for mobile use. They had to choose one or the other, and they chose to make it better for home use. I think most people would agree that was the right choice.

But it does kind of suck when you’re in a moving vehicle.

There is a small, slight hope that we’ll see some solution in the coming years. ATSC 3.0, which is a standard for digital TV that isn’t adopted yet and might never be. ATSC 3.0 is known by most people for they way it would allow 4K broadcasting over existing TV channels, but it’s a lot more than that. Part of the package is re-coding the way that all TV signals are delivered, not just 4K ones. These re-coded signals will work just fine in a moving vehicle…

…that is, if the ATSC 3.0 standard is ever adopted. As I’ve said before, the big problem is that it would take an act of Congress (and when has Congress acted lately), as well as a massive cash outlay to help people deal with the fact that every current TV would be made obsolete by ATSC 3.0.

So there’s hope. There isn’t much hope, but there’s hope. The good news is that most folks are just fine using TV provider apps on their phones or the DIRECTV or DISH apps for their devices. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a good one.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.