A total of 987 TV stations will be moving to new channels over the next two years, part of the Federal Communications Commission’s effort to make more spectrum available to meet the exploding demand for mobile data.

Viewers will need to take action to keep their channels.

By rescanning your TV at the right time, you can ensure uninterrupted access to the channels you rely on for news, weather, and entertainment.

These changes only apply to TVs that use an antenna to get local channels for free. They won’t affect satellite or cable services; those will be rescanned automatically.

With so many stations transitioning to new channel assignments (an estimated 77 million people will be affected), it’s important for viewers to understand how (and when) to rescan their TV (or converter box). It might sound daunting, but it’s really quite simple:

1.     Rescan at the right time. These changes will occur over the next two years, continuing through the spring of 2020 (some stations have already moved). The FCC has established windows of time for each affected TV station to change frequencies. Stations in a region or county will not necessarily move at the same time, so it will likely be necessary to repeatedly rescan in order to maintain access to all stations. The National Association of Broadcasters offers a helpful online tool which provides details about when each station in your area will move, based on your zip code.

2.     When the time comes to rescan, select “channel rescan” or “autotune” in your remote control’s menu. It’s typically under “setup” or “antenna.” Give your TV a few minutes to rescan. If it doesn’t work the first time, try again.

In major cities around the country, rescan dates are coming soon. For example, in Philadelphia, WLVT-TV will be moving to a new frequency this July, as will San Francisco’s KQEH PBS station. In Phoenix, Telemundo’s KTAZ station may be moving as early as September.

So many stations are moving to new channels and “over-the-air” consumers will need to rescan their TVs.  For that little inconvenience, in the end, wireless providers will have a lot more spectrum available to them to provider better and much faster wireless broadband –  called 5th generation services.

For more information about rescanning, visit TVAnswers.org, and to read more on this topic, visit the FCC.