3 Freeview HD channels will start 2009
Today will see the unveiling of a radical plan that will transform Freeview into a High Definition television platform by Christmas 2009 as exclusively revealed by UK Free TV one month ago.
The plan will bring a nine-hour peak-time BBC high definition channel, plus one from ITV and Channel 4 to every home in the United Kingdom, with another from five in 2012.
The public service broadcasters (BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and five) will sign an agreement to the plan today, and Ofcom will issue an immediate consultation, which can be found at Ofcom Consultations - Consultation Documents - The Future of DTT .
By using MPEG4 (part 10) and 256QAM transmission mode, this new DVB-T2 plan will push aside the Sky Picnic plan but the new configuration will mean that the Freeview Lite relay transmitters will not be providing More 4, E4, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV.
However, it may now be possible for Sky to also to convert the second commercial multiplex to a subscription high definition service, perhaps with Sky One HD, Sky Sports 1 HD and Sky Movies Premier HD, whilst carrying the ITV2+1 and E4+1 channels using DVB-T2.
It is not clear yet if the existing 80 Freeview transmitters will change modes before switchover, or if viewers will have to wait for the rolling switchover programme.
Once switchover is complete, it is possible that more HD multiplexes will be possible, potentially using "single frequency networks" that could bring another 20 HD TV channels.
This will allow, by 2017, the eventual conversion of all the Freeview transmission to high definition. In ten years, it expected that the entire Freeview service could be transformed to high definition.
See also: Broadcasters agree Freeview HD plan
Ofcom's questions are:
- 1: which services are most likely to drive take up of DTT consumer reception equipment using new technologies? In particular, are HD services the most likely to do so?
- 2: do you agree with Ofcoms assessment that it would be beneficial for the DTT platform to begin to upgrade to new technologies DVB-T2 and MPEG-4 - to make more efficient use of spectrum and to allow for the introduction of new services?
- 3: Ofcom is particularly interested in hearing from multiplex operators and programme providers as to whether they are interested in using DVB-T2 and / or MPEG-4, and whether Ofcom should consider permitting their use on DTT?
- 4: do you agree that the earliest possible availability and adoption of the technologies is in the interests of consumers and citizens?
- 5: do you agree with Ofcoms view that DVB-T2 MPEG-4 reception equipment could be commercially available in time for DSO in Granada region in late 2009? Question 6: do you agree that some form of intervention is required in order for the DTT platform to commence an upgrade to new technologies without delay?
- 7: Do you have any proposals for launching MPEG-4 services on a DTT multiplex using DVB-T in advance of the proposed 2009 timetable and if so can you provide details of how such a service would not undermine the proposed MPEG-4/DVB-T2 launch in 2009?
- 8: do you agree with Ofcoms proposed approach for adding SD and HD versions of MPEG-4 and DVB-T2 profiles to the list of permitted standards for DTT in the spring, and that Ofcoms consent must be sought prior to adoption of these standards?
- 9: do you agree with Ofcoms proposal that Multiplex B should be cleared and upgraded to new technologies?
- 10: do you agree with Ofcoms proposal that all multiplexesshould be required to upgrade to 64QAM at DSO in order to make the most efficient use of spectrum (ie that the mode change should not merely be optional)?
- 11: do you agree with our proposals for accommodating Five, S4C, TG4 and GDS on Multiplex 2? 96
- 12: do you agree with our assessment that nine SD services can operate on Multiplex 2? If not, do you have an alternative proposal?
- 13: do you agree with our proposals for the reorganisation process for the existing multiplex services set out in the central case scenario?
- 14: do you agree with the principles / conditions that Ofcom proposes to use to evaluate counterproposals for the reorganisation process?
- 15: Do you have an alternative proposal for the reorganisation process? If yes, please provide details.
- 16: do you agree with Ofcoms assessment of the options for allocating the upgraded capacity?
- 17: do you agree with the proposal that HD broadcasting on the DTT platform should use the more efficient progressive format, rather than the interlaced format?
- 18: do you agree with the proposal that Ofcom should not mandate the use of the capacity for any particular service type (SD or HD) but allow the broadcasters to make proposals?
- 19: do you agree with the proposal that the capacity should be allocated in three UK-wide blocks initially, rising to four blocks at DSO?
- 20: do you agree with the proposed criteria for the comparative selection process?
- 21: do you have any comments on Ofcoms proposals for the upgraded multiplex?
- 22: Do you agree with Ofcoms impact assessment?
- 23: Do you agree with Ofcoms assessment of the potential benefits, risks and mitigations strategies relating to the impact of these proposals on the DSO programme?