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New Freeview TVs and boxes to be HD only from 2016

From the start next year, the Freeview logo will only be on new TVs if they provide Freeview HD. From the end of next year, all new Freeview equipment will be HD.

Freeview HD logo  Photograph: Freeview
Freeview HD logo Photograph: Freeview
published on UK Free TV

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

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

All homes in the UK can currently watch at least five channels on Freeview HD.   These are BBC One HD, BBC Two HD, one of ITV HD, STV HD or UTV HD, Channel 4 HD and BBC Three HD and CBBC HD.  


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.

This is similar to the reasons that DAB+ stations can't be broadcast: such a transmission would be invisible to any home with "classic" equipment.


Any questions? 

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Monday, 28 September 2015
James Livingston
5:20 PM

Our old telly was a Sony one from the mid noughties

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James Livingston's 11 posts GB flag

6:44 PM

James Livinstone: While TV's are not 'cheap', they are much cheaper in real terms than ever before. In the 1960's TV were expensive and often broke down, hence the reason why so many were rented. The first colour sets in the UK in 1967 cost about four thousand pounds in todays money - and that was a 24in TV!

The first flat screens cost the equivalent of twelve and a half thousand pounds. 6 years ago, a Freeview equiped Samsung 32in TV, with just 2 HDMI's and nothing fancy would have cost £450. Right now, you can buy the perfectly decent 2D Samsung 32J5500, with Freeview HD, possibly a better panel, 3 HDMI's and smart for £279.

That £450 would now get you the excellent mid range Samsung 40H6400 with change (last years version, and very good value for money), or if you got it at the right time, the very decent LG 630 49in 2D smart TV for about £459.

Even if you have an old TV (so even a CRT with a scart), you can just use an HD box, in exactly the same way I've just done, for not a lot of outlay. Freeview isn't exploiting anyone - to be honest, the whole thing has generally moved at the pace of the slowest, and they could have changed to a T2 tuner during analogue switchoff. Because the tuners were only just coming onto the market and the millions of non T2 boxes out there, they rightly left things alone, but by not using T2 tuners, it means a poorer service, higher operating costs, etc. At some point they have to change.

When you next buy a TV, you can be sure that the TV has an actual HD tuner built in, rather than being conned. You will of course get HD, more HD channels and probably more channels if your in a (now) poorly served area.

As for the idea of using H.265 as well, its possible, but on cost grounds (and the fact that there are now millions of T2 tuners out there) its unlikely.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB flag
MikeB's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Tuesday, 29 September 2015

6:54 AM


Most people think that £450 is a lot of money to spend just to get a few more channels that they may not be interested in watching anyway, especially if their curremt TV set gives them the programmes they want to watch and is working well. Research shows that most people expect to keep a TV set for at least 7-8 years and are very reluctant to spend a lot of money just because Freeview/Ofcom want to change things around. Many consider what is proposed to be 'change for changes sake' with little or no real perceived benefit to them. A lot of people get fed up with all the retuning that is needed with digital TV, remembering back to the analogue days when retunes were virtually unheard of - except if you wanted to get Channel 4 or Channel 5 when they started. Once tuned in they remained with no further 'fiddling about' as people see it now. There is also the thought that replacing a 'perfectly good' set is wasteful of resources.

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MikeP's 215 posts GB flag

9:09 AM

MikeP: But people are not spending £450 to ' just to get a few more channels that they may not be interested in watching'. They are, for the most part, simply buying another TV (which, as I pointed out, is much cheaper in real terms than ever before). Its simply a shame that TV's without T2 tuners have been allowed to be sold (even though the tuners within them will be obsolete within 5 years) for so long, and even worse that many people buying them were not aware of that fact.

However, the bulk of TV's need nothing much doing to them to make them T2 compatible. Even an old CRT TV (which has not been made for a decade) can have a Freeview HD box attached via scart. Mine cost me £40. And exactly the same goes for any TV with an HDMI. In many cases, people have done that already, perhaps replacing the redundent VCR with a HD PVR.

Yes, there will be some kit that will no longer work, such as Freeview digiboxes, etc, but for things like recorders, they will have probably come to the end of their useful lives anyway, and so be replaced as part of the normal cycle. There is no more reason to panic than when there was digital switchover. Lots of people chose to replace their TV, but there was no need to. As long as they had a digital receiver attached, they could use whatever they liked. In exactly the same way, as long as the device has a T2 tuner, they are fine.

As for retuning, I suspect that this is overblown. Most kit retunes/updates itself, and if you look through the past comments about retunes, fewer and fewer people have problems. The ones that do tend to have other issues. The majority of people seemingly have no great problem.

I wish this change had come some years ago, because its allowed thousands of TV's, etc to be sold which will need to have an extra box, often without the customer understanding why. They have been possibly shortchanged, and has slowed down the move to T2 tuners being the standard.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB flag
MikeB's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Wednesday, 30 September 2015
James Livingston
5:24 PM

MikeB: Firstly my surname is Livingston not livinstone. Secondly what about the families who need foodbanks because they can't afford a simple meal won't be able to afford the prices you said and £279 could pay for a family's heating bills. So yes HDTVs are moderately cheap, families who are strapped for cash would rather spend it on something that had a higher priority e.g. food or heating bills. Plus to give you and idea well off my family is, I go to an fee-paying school and my family still can't pay for a new TV. Fortunately, we don't use foodbanks or struggle with paying heating bills.

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James Livingston's 11 posts GB flag

5:49 PM

How long until they stop putting scart sockets on HD boxes so they can save a few pennies and make you "upgrade" your TV?

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Ian's 497 posts GB flag

6:57 PM

James Livingston: Sorry for getting your name wrong due to a typo.

Your not reading what I actually wrote. If you want to convert a Freeview TV (be it HD Ready/Full HD or even a CRT) all you need to do is buy a Freeview HD receiver - the current cost of of which is around £44. Thats it. I know, because I bought one recently. To record, in theory you could do the same thing, but its probably not worth the hassle.

Since the whole move is probably not happening for a couple of years, there is no need to panic.

Ian: They are saving money by not putting in a scart to the bulk of PVR's, but thats quite sensible. The UK has the highest penetration of flat screen TV's in Europe, with apparently something like 70-80% of screens now being HD Ready or Full HD ( I can't find any up-to-date or exact figures). Why put in a connection which is analogue and dates back to 1977? Its a bit like equiping new cars with tape decks - the majority of people dont use them. Humax and Manhatten do have scarts though, but as older TV's are replaced, HDMI has become the standard connection. No Samsung 4K TV has scart connections - what would be the point?

Now Samsung has also taken them out of its J5500 range this year - a decent entry level 2D TV. That is almost certainly due to cost - the margins are very thin on TV's for manufacturers and retailers, and if the market isn't going to use something (or at least use it much), then you can leave it out at that price level.

So the answer to your question is not that they are trying to make you upgrade your TV, but they are pragmatically looking at the market, and deciding what connections they actually need to use. Since the bulk of TV's in peoples homes are equiped with HDMI's, the scart is largely redundent. However, there are brands that do cater for both HDMI and scarts.

Whay annoys me more is the Freeview PVR's that were on sale not so long ago which only had scarts, but not an HDMI - that was on grounds of cost!

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB flag
MikeB's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Friday, 9 October 2015
8:53 AM

I also think it is shocking that Freeview allow non DVB-T2 tuners to continue be sold in the UK when those in the know have known for at least 18 months that Freeview will eventually switch to DVB-T2 transmissions.
But you have to start somewhere and it is good to see that a date has now been set for older non-DVB-T2 devices to be phased out.

Where SD Freeview boxes currently sell for £22, I would expect the HD / DVB-T2 ones to fill that price point once the SD boxes cannot be sold so the price per TV to make it work on a DVB-T2 system will be low.

I'd hope there is a phased switchover with some things remaining on DVB (like the PSB channels I get on my rural transmitter) while other things move to DVB-T2 (so a bit like the old parallel running of analogue and low power Freeview) and then a full switch over a few years later.

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RogerH's 3 posts GB flag

2:00 PM

RogerH: I agree about the length of time its taken to stop non T2 tuners from being sold, but I suspect that the retailers etc would argue that its a free market and caveat emptor, etc.

T2 boxes might be a little more expensive than the older SD boxes, if only becuase they are likely to have internet access for Iplayer, etc (although when I try to use that function with mine, it kills thebox and I have to unplug it from the mains), but they should start to come down to the £30 mark.

Arguably, they have some years of phasing in already, but I suspect that once there is a firm date for SD switchoff (which will probably rely on the transmitters being ready and the number of SD tuners still in use), they will then encourage people to upgrade etc over a year or so.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB flag
MikeB's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Saturday, 31 October 2015
Chris Shaw
8:32 AM


I bought a new TV this year, to replace one which was 'HD ready', mainly in order to get an optical audio output! This one has a Freeview tuner with HD of course. It this DVB-T2?

The TV also has Internet capability but one fewer HDMI sockets than my old TV. My older video recorder has also an HD tuner and Internet connection. No scart, thank goodness. The Apps that these things provide (like my Apple TV box) are pretty random though. It does seem that there is a bewildering choice of inputs, outputs, tuner and Internet combinations - even within the same brand, or between different stores. It is extremely difficult to know, when you buy this sort of equipment whether it is the latest or the most'future proof'!

I guess that it is because no service provider wants to provide anything for free (except the BBC) and Freeview is something we have to struggle to hang on to, albeit at the price of frequent equipment changes.

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Chris Shaw's 16 posts GB flag
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