All change for Freeview between 2014 and 2018

Now, we don’t want to worry you, but there’s a danger that there’ll be some Freeview hassle to look forward to in 2018. OK, so this is a long way off, but we thought we’d give you as much advance notice as possible…

More Freeview HD

Freeview HD LogoLet’s soften you up with the good news. Ofcom has announced that we’re in for some more Freeview HD channels. As a result of the digital switchover, some precious space has been freed up. Some is to be used for the upcoming 4G networks, due in 2013, and some is awaiting a purpose.

It looks like that space could well be used for up to 10 additional Freeview HD channels by 2014, if proposals go ahead.

 

Frequency Changes

And now, the bad news. Ofcom has also announced that in 2018, some of the spectrum used for digital TV services, will be hived off for a new mobile data network. Now, we’ve only just got 4G, but plans are afoot for a 5G network, to meet the needs of an increasingly data-hungry UK.

We’ve already warned Freeview viewers that we can expect over a million homes to see interference to Freeview services in 2013 as a result of the new 4G networks – but it looks like 2018 will be another bad year for Freeview viewers.

The proposals outlined by Ofcom call for the existing Freeview channels to move down the UHF band, to free up space in the 700MHz band. This means there will be less space available for Freeview. As well as allowing space for a new 5G mobile data network, the proposed changes are to bring the UK in line with other users of the UHF band around the world.

What does this mean in practice? Potentially fewer Freeview channels in 2018. Either that, or a push to get the UK to shift to the newer and more efficient DVB-T2 format. This format is already in use in the new Freeview HD boxes and TV sets, so a transition should be fairly painless for those with HD kit. here’s a danger that moving to this format could spell the end for the older DVB-T boxes and TVs, potentially making them obsolete. Some Freeview viewers may also need to have their TV aerials replaced, to ensure that they will be able to continue watching Freeview from 2018.

Hopefully, by 2018, many homes in the UK will have switched away from the older Freeview boxes to Freeview HD equipment, and the industry is clearly hoping that by adding up to 10 more HD channels, people will make the transition more quickly. However, there will still be plenty of the older boxes and TV sets out there, and there’s a danger that these will need to be binned in 2018 if the UK switches to the more efficient DVB-T2 format.

So, by 2018, would you rather?

  • Lose some of the existing Freeview channels, or
  • Replace your non-HD Freeview boxes and TV sets

If plans continue as they are, that could be the choice lying ahead for Freeview viewers

Update: Thanks to one site visitor for suggesting this is a cunning plan to push the UK over to satellite TV, removing the need for messy TV aerials!

 

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17 comments

  • Pessimist

    I recently visited the ex-IBA R&D site in Crawley, near Winchester, for an update on Freeview.

    A Senior member of the Arqiva site gave his opinion that the Freeview terrestrial network was likely to be discontinued within 8-10 years as it was occupying very valuable spectrum.

    Freesat here we come, the next time my antenna gets damaged its going to be replaced by a Freesat dish!

    Perhaps the YouView team should seek clarification?

  • A Keys

    I can envisage this being the end for me & “normal” TV. I have zero interest in HD or in having a satellite dish, let alone paying Sky for my TV. I can see me watching more & more via DVD or computer & simply not bothering with broadcast stuff.

  • Geoff

    You say “Potentially less Freeview channels in 2018” Wrong! there will be fewer.

  • Ian Jones

    Freeview is now just a collection of shopping and +1 channels with only about 10 worthwhile channels. The introduction of more channels in HD would finally put right the way the public were ‘short-changed’ by the introduction of SD digital television. The plain fact is that the old analogue TV pictures were actually sharper than the present day SD digital pictures. The early desire to cram in as many channels as possible into the available spectrum was criminal and has resulted in the plethora of un-sharp pixelated channels that we have today.

  • Tim G

    I agree with Ian Jones most channels are of no value & SD picture is worse than analogue. Get rid of the dross & don’t force people to throw out working kit

  • Clive

    Ditch the shopping channels then.

  • Bob1942

    I saw a comment recently that it’s being investigated to move TV to the internet

  • Richard Taylor

    Did you actually read the press statement?!

    “For the vast majority of viewers, moving DTT to different frequencies will require a simple retune of existing TV equipment. However, a small minority of consumers may need to change their roof top aerials – likely not before 2018. Ofcom plans to work from an early stage with aerial installation groups and retailers to minimise any impact on viewers. “

    • Yes,we have, however, have you read the response from the BBC, Channel 4 and Arqiva?

      “To ensure that the platform can continue to provide the range of services that
      viewers have come to expect from DTT, in the event that 700 MHz is cleared in the
      future, it will be necessary to transition the network to DVB-T2. This will require
      many viewers to obtain some combination of new TVs, aerials or set-top boxes.”

      “Clearance would involve very significant costs and disruption for the DTT platform and for the millions of UK households who have selected it to access digital television services.”

      Source: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/uhf-strategy/responses/BBC_Channel_4_Arqiva.pdf

      Also, the following statement has been made by Arqiva:

      “While Arqiva welcomes Ofcom’s clear long-term commitment to ensuring a robust future for Freeview, Ofcom has yet to make the case for this change and the huge disruption that would be caused to TV viewers as a result.”

      Source: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/19/freeview_bump_5g/

      Based on these two sources, we believe that there is a good reason to believe that the proposed changes are likely to cause disruption.

  • Richard Taylor

    Those seem to suggest that OFCOM has not done it’s research properly, and should be censured!!! They’re making a statement which could well be untrue, or at least lacking in important detail.

    Based on all this I am writing to my MP, not that that will do a lot of good!

  • 10 more Freeview HD channels would be nice, but they still can’t find a buyer for the fifth HD slot.

  • Voice of reason

    What Aerials are messier than dishes?
    OFCOM and the greedy government want to sell off more frequencies to the Mobile Industry, and then we all have to pay for new installs, updates and new equipment. Then we get the opportunity to pay for a subscription.
    WoW, What a deal for the average TV viewer that isn’t.

  • David

    Is it still 2018?

  • Elaine

    We+don’t+need+less+Freeview+channels+we+need+more+and+let’s+make+that+more+entertainment+channels+not+just+shopping+and+music

  • David

    Elaine Freeview will die.
    Pathetic the low number of HD in this day and age on offer.
    Seems to me more and more people using the internet and smart TV and other platforms.

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