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Will Freeview ever serve as many homes as analogue?

Will Freeview ever serve as many homes as analogue?

Will Freeview ever serve as many homes as analogue?
published on UK Free TV

There are no signs yet that the government has really got to grips with the question how (or if) the Freeview (or Digital Terrestrial Television, DTT) network will be extended to cover in a similar way to analogue terrestrial TV.

It may be that talk of "satellite being used to fill the gaps", as we have been told by many people (including Greg Dyke recently) is really the only option. The cost of running the smaller 1020 transmitters compared to the 82 that now have Freeview is massive.

There are four issues:

1. Spectrum planning - ie the channel numbers that the six terrestrial multiplexes use. I have never seen a credible plan of how this can be done.

2. Site upgrades - most of the relays are unsophisticated. They get their four (or five) TV channels as analogue UHF and retransmit them. Can these relays be upgraded for a reasonable cost?

3. Site costs - the cost of running and maintaining these relays is more than the cost of buying dishes and boxes for the local populations.

4. National network security - Satellite networks have more "single points of failure" that could be critical in an national emergency.

Looking at a sample location, you can see that of the 17 transmitters within 30km of the location, only two have Freeview, and as you point out the Winter Hill is the other option.

I have been considering making some changes to the site to deal with areas of the country that have, let say, "more complicated" Freeview reception because of the local terrain.

It seems to me that it is people in places on north-west coasts that are going to have the biggest problems (your location, and places such as North Devon and Scotland's Highlands) because the chances of having a poor view of the Astra satellites increases, and the terrestrial network is relay-based.

Whatever information you have that I can use to make the site more accurate I would welcome.

As for the "rumblings of discontent" - I have suggested that people contact the relevant people, including:

Tessa Jowell, Department for Culture Media & Sport, 2-4 Cockspur Street London SW1Y 5DH 020 7211 6200

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