New Freeview TVs and boxes to be HD only from 2016
As part of the rolling process to upgrade Freeview to an HD service, Freeview (as well as Digital UK and the DTG) are going to withdraw licenced use of the "Freeview trademark" from equipment that does not meet the most up-to-date high definition standards.
This is good news for anyone who might have bought a high definition capable TV set and found that it was incapable of watching the channels broadcast on Freeview in HD.
It is also good news for the mobile broadband industry: the sooner all homes have Freeview HD equipment, the sooner the TV frequencies can be rearranged to free up capacity for mobiles.
Freeview HD provides two important differences to "standard" Freeview. The most obvious is an increase in the resolution of TV pictures that provides a better viewing experience. Hidden behind the scenes is another technology called "DVB-T2" that increases the amount of data in a digital TV broadcast: this is needed to carry the better pictures.
Freeview HD for all
Freeview HD for some
About 60% of homes can also get another selection of HD channels (BBC Four HD, BBC News HD, Al Jazeera HD, Channel 4+1 HD, 4seven HD, CBeebies HD, QVC HD and QVC Beauty HD) but only from a selection of "main" transmitters.
Freeview HD later
Over the next decade, it is expected that there will be another "digital switchover" as the allocated frequencies for television are reduced further. For this to happen without the loss of Freeview channel selection, it will be vital for all Freeview homes to be using Freeview HD equipment, even for channels not broadcast in HD.
Because of the extra bandwidth provided by DVB-T2 as well as the improved data compression provided by MPEG4, it will be possible to provide the same number of TV channels whilst providing considerable extra capacity for mobile phones and tablets using 4G-type services.
When will there be more HD channels for everyone?
It is likely that improved (backend) computation speeds will allow the national PSB3 multiplex to carry an additional channel in the next couple of years. After that it will require the reconfiguration of another multiplex to DVB-T2 to create the required capacity.
However the BBC's universal service obligation can't do this until 100% of homes can use DVB-T2, and the same applies to ITV and Channel 4. The commercial multiplexes also will not wish to drop homes for their viewers, so the upgrade may be many, many years away.
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9:58 PM Macclesfield
Chris Shaw: Freeview HD tuners are also known as DVB-T2, so you bought the right thing!
Can I assume that you bought a Full HD 2D Smart TV (i'd be interested to know the model)? If so, three 3 HDMI's are average . 4 is standard on a high spec/4K sets.
The Apps you get on various bits of kit can be a bit confusing, but it kind of makes sense. There are certain killer apps that you really have to have. Iplayer and Netflix are pretty standard, for instance. Apple TV is a great bit of kit, but a bit lacking in some areas, when it comes to apps. ITV seems to be a bit of a no no, as does Sky Go, but the former might be able to be 'cast' from your other Apple equipment. Chromecast seems to be very popular, but its can't do everything. Amazon Prime seems to be unavailable on Chromecast, because (frankly) its a rival to Amazon, so there! Roku seems to be popular, and there are loads of other streamers, software mods (sideloading Plex, etc). However, remember that someone has to write the apps, support the software, etc, which is why certains things stopped getting supported, especially on older equipment (older Sony Blu-rays wont do certain ondemand apps any longer). And commercial considerations get in the way, which is why Apple TV, Chromecast and Amazon Fire will all do slightly different things.
In short, there is no one smart box to rule them all. However, as long as your TV has Freeview HD, and enough HDMI ports, its reasonably future proof, and I wouldn't worry too much.
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Very disappointed when I moved from central London to the south coast, only 90 minutes on train and around 60 miles to find my Freeview HD channels cut in half. I am so angry I can no longer get BBC4 in HD. How long must I wait for this to change? And why is coverage so bad in this technologically modern country. 60 miles should make no difference but it does. Very frustrating. I now have to pay Murdoch for the privilege of getting Freeview channels in HD. Paying for Freeview is contradictory to the point of Freeview is it is no longer free!
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Looking at the FreeSat channels there is hardly any difference from what I get through my aerial now. If it is coming off Sky Sat why is there no E4 or Film 4 or C5 or any of the other HD channels Sky supplies. All available in SD on Freeview. Surely if the SD are available on FreeSat then the HD channels should be too. Why is this? I'd love to leave Mr Murdoch behind but to lose so many HD Freeview channels makes me wonder if it is worth it.
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Paul Bale: Mr Murdoch is giving you the extra HD channels, and he's evidently paying for that, and therefore you need to pay him in turn. C5 could have gone HD on Freeview and Freesat some years ago (there was a slot for it), but they carried on with Sky.
Its a commercial decision by Sky and the other broadcasters, but Freesat does allow you to watch all the free HD channels, and if you have difficulty getting the full range of channels via Freeview because of geography, etc, then its the obvious solution.
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MikeB: Good of you to defend Murdoch, as if he doesn't have enough influence over us already, but I'm not sure if you have answered my query. All HD channels available on Freeview can be viewed in HD on Freesat? Does that mean E4HD, More4HD, C5HD, etc or just the 16 that can be seen if you live in an area that has the right infrastructure to receive the 16 already on Freeview? Does this mean C4 and C5 are paying Murdoch to broadcast HD channels? If slots on Freeview are available why? And if all tvs and Freeview receivers, recorders etc are going HD only from this year, when are these channels going to start broadcasting on Freeview in HD, and when will someone pay for the infrastructure to enable everyone in every part of the country receive all channels? Even with Tv it seems we are a them and us society.
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Freesat is not operated by Sky/Mr Murdock. Freesat is exactly that - free satellite broadcasting of most services that are available on Freeview. Have a look at Freesat Channels - Free Satellite TV, HD and Radio Channels to see what channels are available free of charge via a dish with a Freesat box. This is not the same as what Sky purport to offer using their own box and the two should not be confused.
In moving out of London you have discovered that most of the country does not get the same degree of service as is available in London. The terrain in the area you live affects how well, or otherwise, signals reach you. In many areas where population density is less than in urban areas there are too few viewers to warrant the expense of commercially funded transmissions, so many areas have a 'Freeview Lite' service. Not all transmitters are yet equipped to transmit all the possible HD services and those that are require the use of equipment fitted with an HD tuner (not just be 'HD ready').
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Paul Bale: I'm certainly not defending Murdoch at all, but I'm pointing out commercial reality. As MikeP points out, Freesat might use the same type of transmission system as Sky, but its basically like Freeview, just via a dish. If you want to check for yourself whcih HD channels are common to Freeview and Freesat, look here: All of the free TV channels on PGSTART200 in the UK
I'm on Freeview, so I get C4 HD + 1 and 4seven HD, which isn't on Freesat, but Freesat users get NHK HD, which isn't on Freeview. And Freesat has more plus 1 channels.
E4 and C5 are not in HD on Freeview (I just checked), and I assume thats to do with a commercial agreement between Sky and those channels. In fact it would be interesting to find out what that is, but thats another matter. At the moment, I can't watch The Big Bang Theory in HD on E4, but Sky HD users can, and I can only assume thats to do with money.
You've misunderstood the article - TV's are not 'all going HD only this year', its just that (at last) TV's will not allowed to be sold without its being clearly explained that the TV only has a SD tuner, and then finally will only be allowed to be sold if they have an HD tuner. Frankly, if someone has bought a TV in the last 2-3 years without an HD tuner, its not a very good TV anyway, but the number of SD tuners still being sold, plus the number in circulation, has put back a welcome change to a better way to transmit TV, which would allow for HD on far more channels, more actual channels, a better use of the spectrum and less expense overall. SD signals will still have to be transmitted for some time to come, simply to allow people with SD tuners to get a TV signal. However, the market has led the way with HD tuners, and there is not reason why SD could switched off sooner rather than later.
Since an HD tuner is available to fit to any TV for ?44, its hardly a massive stretch to get HD, and the bulk of people can get most of the HD channels if they want. As MikeP has pointed out, there are areas where its difficult to transmit the full number of channels, etc, but that will improve, and Freesat is an excellent alternative.
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