Digital TV makes much more efficient use of the UHF broadcast frequencies. This has meant that nine old frequencies used by TV (C61 to C69) could be sold to Three, EE, Vodafone and O2 for use by mobile phones to access the internet at higher speeds than before.
The ever-growing demand for mobile internet - that works reliably when traveling, inside shops and offices - means that Freeview will need to vacate more broadcast channels (C49 to C60) in about four years’ time.
This can be done without reducing the available TV and radio channels, but it will mean retunes for all Freeview viewers – and new TV aerials for about 10% of homes in Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Merseyside, Somerset, Bristol, County Durham, Oxfordshire, Dundee, Dover, Carmarthenshire, West Sussex, North Devon, the Scottish Borders and the north of Northern Ireland. These new aerials will be provided and fitted for free.
This is going to be an issue for homes in some transmitter areas that watching the “extra” Freeview HD channels on the two temporary multiplexes called com7 and com8 – which shows these Freeview channels:
57 VIVA, 67 CBS Reality +1, 71 CBS Drama, 78 5USA +1, 81 Talking Pictures TV, 86 Vintage TV, 87 Keep It Country, 106 BBC Four HD, 107 BBC News HD, 108 Al Jazeera English HD, 109 Channel 4+1 HD, 110 4seven HD, 113 RT HD, 124 CBeebies HD, 134 Al Jazeera Arabic, 77 Rishtey Europe, 245 Keep It Country TV 111 QVC +1 HD, 112 QVC Beauty HD
...and are using a “group A aerial”. Most homes have long-since switched to using a wideband aerial, but if you haven’t and live in these places you might not be able to watch the above channels after com7 and com8 change frequencies:
Greater London, Lincolnshire, Cumbria, Isle of Wight, Sussex and Hampshire coast, North Yorkshire, Aberdeenshire, eastern Northern Ireland, Cornwall, Fife, Herefordshire, East Ayrshire, South Yorkshire, Newcastle and Stoke-on-Trent.
If you run a professional performance venue (for concerts or theater) or make TV (live or recorded) shows you will probably make use of radio microphones or short-distance links for audiovisual. Before 2012 you will have been using “C69” for these, and had to have the equipment changed to C48.
Because Freeview is going to work with twelve less broadcasting channels from 2020, it will be necessary to use C48 for Freeview. Also many TV studios (say, Sky News) also make use of unused Freeview channels for radio microphones and they simply won’t be able to find unused channels from mid-2020.
Ofcom has provided PMSE new frequencies away from the old TV ones, but this will mean another equipment upgrade as well as using digital technology to make better use of the new band.
Since the start of the previous 4G services, a very small number of Freeview viewers have had to fit “filters” or have had their rooftop aerial amplifier removed. This was done by “at800” who provided any home with the necessary equipment for free.
The same scheme will be run for those people now in the top band, which is about 1% of Freeview homes, which will then run from July 2020 onwards, presumably as “at700”.
There are several good reason for leaving the changes until as late as possible: newer Freeview equipment is able to re-tune when network changes happen, and it will take time to locate the actual aerials that will need replacing.
The first event will need be a “national retune” for Freeview HD users and those places using C51 (Emley Moor, Dover, Sandy Heath, Redruth, Beacon Hill and others) and C56 (Mendip, Sudbury, Waltham, Huntshaw Cross) effected by the movement of com7 and com8 to a national SFN.
The 2009-2012 digital switchover process suggests that rest of the process will be done on a region-by-region basis. This time it might be....
No changes will be needed at Cambridge, Channel Islands, East, East Midlands, East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, London, the rest of Scotland, West Midlands and Yorkshire.
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