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Freeview HD Launch Begins This December


Freeview HD Launch Begins This December

Since Ofcom announced in 2007 that there would, eventually, be HD Digital Terrestrial we've been waiting for something close to a definitive timescale for when the service will actually launch. Thanks to the BBC, if you live in Manchester, Liverpool or, in fact, anywhere covered by the Winter Hill transmitter you now have one: 2 December this year.

The beginning of HD Freeview transmissions will coincide with Winter Hills digital Switchover, which starts in November. Multiplex B is scheduled to switch on 2 December, and as that's the multiplex being used for HD Freeview, that's the date the service will go live.

The rest of the country will be waiting a little while longer although four further transmitters will be upgraded in the "first half of 2010." More details will, the BBC says, be announced once they have been made firmer.

Some areas of the country will be getting Freeview HD ahead of their digital switchover dates, such as London which is scheduled for a 2012 switchover but will actually see an upgrade to the Crystal Palace transmitter in the first half of 2010.

The Digital UK postcode database, currently being used to show digital switchover sates, is to be updated with Freeview HD details - although there's no word on when that update will take place - so you'll be able to plan ahead on finally making that HDTV purchase if you've managed to shun Sky HD and Freesat thus far.


BBC Internet Blog.

Go to comments

Ben 3

June 25, 2009, 10:31 pm

I make thats 7 months and counting - so where are the Freeview STBs that will actually work with this then?

Or are those going to turn up in 2010?

Tony Walker

June 25, 2009, 10:33 pm

Have they mentioned if it will be available on the relay transmitters?


June 26, 2009, 12:48 am

Anyone know what the broadcast resolution will be?


June 26, 2009, 1:03 am

A lot of STBs have h.264 decoders already. Resolution will be 1080i AFAIK.


June 26, 2009, 1:17 am

Sweeeeet! May not have to get freesat then. I wonder which channels will be in HD? As far as STB's go, have any been released with HDMI? I've never looked and I assume they will have to carry HDCP.


June 26, 2009, 2:01 am

any tv's that can handle h.264? don't like the idea of another box or remote control for my baby sister to decimate.


June 26, 2009, 2:16 am

Just having h.264 decoders is not enough I'm afraid. The UK broadcasters have decided to develop / adopt a completely new DVB-T transmission standard DVB-T2 for terestrial HD broadcasts, not just use the h.264 video encoding standard via the existing DVB-T (which they are doing in France now for example). You can find the full details here ... http://www.dvb.org/technology/... . There aren't any commercially available TV sets or STB that are comatible with the DVB-T2 standard yet to my knowledge - only trial prototypes. I've got to say that I really question the wisdom behind using terestrial broadcast for HD content distribution. The number of channels they will be able to deliver using UHF spectrum compatible with existing aerials, even with the more efficient DVB-T2 modulation will always be very limited in comparison with DVB-S2 already widely adopted. The money would have been far better spent on increasing the programing produced in HD rather than deploying virtually a completely new distribution network, that has the dubios benefit of adding a few extra HD channel capacity via existing UHF aerials.

prag fest

June 26, 2009, 3:18 am

four further transmitters will be upgraded in the "first half of 2010."

Whoa, steady on Ofcom, lets not rush things.


June 26, 2009, 6:13 am

@speedyuk - does this mean that the current hardware used to receive transmissions will be useless? I'm thinking of PlayTv which picks up HD fine in the countries that use DVB-T (France, Australia, New Zealand) but is looking like being useless for HD in the UK if this is the case. Bit of a shame seeing as PlayTV was developed by Sony UK. That said, HD channels in Aus are a bit underwhelming really and virtually indistinguishable from an upscaled SD TV source so maybe it doesn't matter all that much anyway...


June 26, 2009, 6:45 am

Just in time for the World Cup - great. (Shame my landlord made me get rid of my TV aerial, as birds were perching on it and pooing on the cars below).


June 26, 2009, 8:01 am

@speedyuk half the freeview channels are pointless shopping channels. They could be kicked off the public spectrum and it would free up plenty of space. Also a 1080i H264 only takes up twice the space of a SD channel because H264 is more efficient. When the analog TV is switched off there will be plenty of space, many other countries use over the air for HD channels and it works just fine.


June 26, 2009, 1:15 pm

@stripy - yes I'm afraid freeview TV's and STB currently being bought will not be able to directly receive terestrial HD via the DVB-T2 standard that is proposed to be used in the UK.

@jopey - I agree entirely, and I really think Ofcom even at this late stage should re think the policy for delivering terestrial HD TV in the UK. As you say it would make more sense especially in the short to medium term to loose some of the current wasteful SD channels to free up space to use h.264 on the existing DVB-T standard for HD delivery.


June 26, 2009, 4:06 pm

If this works and viewers have more choice then it's good news, but another slighly related story this morning is that the other hand of Ofcom is targeting Skys' perceived dominance of, for instance, sporting events and wants to "open up" the right to broadcast them.

Presumabley we go back to SD transmissions and more Setanta fiascos on satellite platforms but promote the ariel and pathetic (Wild China and South Pacific excepted) BBC HD output, J Woss twice a week and endless sitcoms, forever.


June 26, 2009, 8:52 pm

Woooo thats me (I live in Chester) What we need is a box that decodes this and has iplayer capability (possibly media streaming?).


August 12, 2009, 5:13 pm

I'm glad i built my own media centre pc :) i got a Dual TV Tuner that has full support for DVB-T2! I wonder when Belmont tower will get upgraded?

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