A little general background that might help flesh it out.
When you say "changing to digital in feb" you need to distinguish what they call ASO (Analogue Switch Off) - all countries that are going, or have started digital services plan to switch off the old analogue services to free up that spectrum. Some countries have already done this, other plan to in the next few years. But digital services are already running in the US, so Feb is probably the ASO, although it is very unlikely they will do the whole country in one hit!
Digital is broadly split into 3 standards world wide. ATSC is the standard used for terrestrial/cable services in the US, also in Canada, a couple S. American countries and South Korea. Japan uses a different standard called ISDB for terrestrial and Brasil uses a variation of this. The rest of the world (except China) either is using DVB-T or plans to use it for terrestrial services - all Europe, Asia, Australia/NZ, S. Africa and various other African and Middle Eastern states, S. America, Russia, Eastern Europe and the Balkan states. In most locations that use DVB-T for digital terrestrial services also use DVB-C for digital cable services. DVB-S and DVB-S2 is the most common digital satelite service format around the world (and interesting is also used my some US providers like Dish).
All of these services can be "FTA" (Free To Air) or unencrypted, or encrypted - if encrypted, you need a decryption box, but in some countries that doesn't necessarily imply a pay-for service, but usually it does. Decryption for DVB type transmissions is usually by a standard like CAM/CI/Irdeto using a decryption module/smart card provided by the TV company. In some cases you can use your own hardware (like a PCI card) and the TV company's module thus meaning you can integrate completely with LMCE, many other providers only allow you to use their STB which means you can't feed the stream directly into LMCE digitally - this can be gotten around, but note is illegal! So failing that you need to sample the video/audio using an analogue card and feed that in instead or in limited cases (as mentioned) a firewire port will give you the unecrypted/uncompressed raw digital stream.
Neither SDTV nor HDTV imply free or pay services, they can be either - and as mentioned, in some case just because it is encrypted doesn't mean that it is a pay service (but usually does!) Analogue is rapidly dying in all countries that are already transmitting services, as authorities and providers want to free up the spectrum/bandwidth.