back to article BBC begins fresh Freeview HD TV trial

Freesat may have only recently launched in the UK, but the BBC has already begun testing the transmission of HD services over Freeview. The broadcaster has started transmissions from a Guildford-based transmitter using the second-generation DVB-T specification DVB-T2. The trial could clear the way for the introduction of HD …


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  1. David Gosnell

    Point proven re the "Brits confused by digital TV switchover, report claims" article

    HD over Freeview will require new decoding hardware, so better wait a bit longer, right? On the other hand, people who heeded the message and upgraded to digital ahead of schedule are going to get mightily pissed off.

  2. Hywel Thomas
    Thumb Down

    Why not just ditch terrestrial TV broadcast ?

    Would it not make sense to plan to ditch terrestrial TV broadcasting, now that freesat is up and running ? Certainly for HD. Use the bandwidth for decent radio instead and legislate to allow satellite dishes on all buildings (though maybe for listed buildings, there could be a planning decision on the placements, so it may have to be on an outbuilding or something).

  3. Red Bren

    Just brilliant

    So the "HD Ready" digital telly I bought less than 18 months ago is already obsolete. And all for "30% more data carrying capacity" which I'll bet won't translate into higher quality broadcast, just extra shopping channels and other shite.

    This might sound like the whining of an early adopter who backed the wrong horse and to a certain extent it is. But it's no wonder consumers are reluctant to switch to digital TV & Radio because as soon as they do, some incremental updgrade becomes available.

    My parents were early adopters of colour TV and they didn't have to replace their set until it broke down 15 years later. They weren't forced into it because the BBC suddenly changed from PAL to SECAM after a couple of years.

    If a technology change doesn't offer a revolutionary new functionality, such as monochrome to colour or VHS to DVD, why bother? It's just a money making exercise for the hardware manufacturers and rights holders.

  4. Toby Graham

    December Next Year

    Ahh that's nice, and here's me thinking it might be soon.

    I don't care I'm HD'ed up to the eyeballs anyway

  5. John Robson Silver badge

    No TV buying for me

    Until an existing one goes pop. Then I'll probably look at whatever the latest early adopters are being forced to ditch...

    Why are we doing this - if we just stopped TV broadcasts we'd save tonnes of CO2 ;)

  6. Anonymous John

    The second-generation DVB-T specification DVB-T2

    As far as I know, there are no DVB-T2 set-top boxes yet. So can the BBC be running a trial?

    And as for

    "Committee Chairman Edward Leigh said: "Many viewers do not seem fully to understand the implications of the analogue switch-off and are still buying analogue televisions - unaware that they have built-in obsolescence."

    My new Freeview TV also has built-in obsolescence. Apart from not being to cope with DVB-T2 it has no red button on the remote. So if I wanted interactive features, I'd need a set top box despite having a TV with the Digital Tick.

    If you want to record, you'll need a Freeview DVD recorder or PVR, either which will work fine with an analogue TV.

  7. Eponymous Cowherd

    For feck's sake.....

    Retailers are *still* flogging off obsolete analogue kit. Now we are told that if you go out and buy a spanking new integrated digital TV right now that, too, will be partially obsolete in 2009.

    Look, HD. Very pretty and all that, but shite TV is still shite TV whether its in SD, HD or 3D. There are very few programmes that actually *benefit* from HD. Feature films some documentaries and some sport are about it. All of the crap that fills up 99% of the schedules (soaps, "reality" TV, talent(less) contests, quiz shows, cookery and 'lifestyle' shows) won't benefit one iota from being on HD.

  8. Carl Williams


    Wonder if the PCI Freeview card I purchased that claimed compatibility with HD Freeview will cater for this standard. Claim of false advertising to me and any TV that has a built in Freeview Tuner and claims to be HD Ready may also be advertised falsely.

  9. Jaster
    Thumb Up

    Terrestrial TV

    "Would it not make sense to plan to ditch terrestrial TV broadcasting, now that freesat is up and running ? "

    More people in the UK have Freeview than have Satellite TV ... so no! nearly 80% of households already get Terrestrial Digital TV

    I'll let the dust settle on HD (the various HDTV's/BluRay etc ...) before I commit to any new equipment ... but Digital TV is already here ...

  10. Tony Hoyle

    No real change then

    Even if the BBC had transmitted HD over DVB-T your 'HD Ready' TV would not have worked with it. It only has an SD Freeview tuner in it.

    'HD Ready' merely means you can plug external HD sources in and have a reasonable chance that they'll work. It says nothing about broadcast HD and never did. If the salesman told you it did he was lying.

    HD was always going to need new hardware. The only people caught out are the minority who bought DVB-T HD decoders designed for mainland Europe, which is probably about three and a half old guys in a back room somewhere (Sony tried to Sucker people by saying their PlayTV was HD capable but then failed to release it anyway, so disaster was averted).

  11. Rob W
    Thumb Down

    @ Hywel Thomas

    Really?! That would mean EVERY household would have to have a satellite dish. There are many places in which this would be entirely unsuitable. I, for instance, live in a beautiful stone-built Victorian terrace and it would look AWFUL slapped on the side of my house. Fine for the council estates, where quite frankly it would be difficult to make it look any uglier...

    Also, while Freeview boxes are available for £25, the minimum you can pay to get a Freesat box (and dish and installation) is £130. I can't afford that sort of outlay, just for the sake of HD, so I can't imagine a full-scale roll-out would be possible.

  12. Brian

    @ Just Brilliant

    No your TV is not obsolete. Ok so u might need an HD freeview box in a couple of years time but so what? That will be 3 and a half years after you bought your telly.

    ""30% more data carrying capacity" which I'll bet won't translate into higher quality broadcast, just extra shopping channels and other shite.""

    No the extra bandwidth is for HD content, can u actually read ?

  13. Dr. Mouse

    @ Why not just ditch terrestrial TV broadcast ?

    How to piss off half the country in one fell swoop.

    For myself, I have a custom DVB-T DVR (actualy as part of my file/firewall/voip/mail/everything server). It means I get all the TV I want, when I want, without paying Sky/Virgin, and without having to ask the landlord if I can put up a satelite dish.

    We have been using terrestrial TV for so long now, everyone has an aerial. I for one would be anoyed if they didnt continue to develope it. However, I do think OFCOM should allow freeview to have the current analogue TV bandwidth. There'd be no problem with HD DVB then, plenty of space without affecting the current muxes.

  14. Dave Fox

    @Red Bren

    Erhhhh - probably not. DVB-T2 is a transmission standard and your TV probably never had an HD "tuner" as such and would need a set top box to receive terrestrial HD broadcasts anyway. Your TV will still be able to display an HD picture from a DVB-T2 broadcast, so long as you have a "set top" box that supports it.

  15. Gary


    Most people in the UK are clueless about HD anyway.

    They think that just because they have a Playstation 3/Blu-Ray player then the image they see on screen is HD... even if they are watching it on an old 14" portable CRT via scart!

    At the end of the day, unless you've got a ridiculously oversized TV then you don't need HD anyway!

  16. Andrew Cooper

    Firmware anyone?

    Anyone know whether new hardware is necessary, or whether this could be handled by a firmware upgrade?

  17. Anonymous Coward


    Why not Crystal Palace again? I've still got the box from the previous HD trial...

  18. Julian

    Obsolete Already!

    Some existing Freeview boxes are already obsolete!

    If you live in Sutton Coldfield and have a Daewoo Setpal (and derivatives) then you will find it no longer works. This is because of changes made to the Network Information Table and lack of software updates instantly turned the set top boxes into large paper weights.

    There will be more to come. They are planning on using 8k mode in 2012. This will mean a lot more Freeview boxes will be consigned to the technological dustbin.

  19. Ivan Headache

    What is being transmitted in HD now?

    Is there any way to tell? I read somewhere that the Euro footy was in HD but there were only a couple of freeview boxes available that would show it - one being made by Humax.

    Now by sheer good fortune, I have a year old Humax TV in the bedroom and the footy (and currently the wimbledon) look much better on it than they do on the Hitachi downstairs with a grundig freeview box. (I'm in London.)

    Now oddly enough, the Humax says HD ready but it doesn't have an HDMI connector - which suggests that the HD would actually be internal, coming off the freeview tuner.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any ideas on what could decode this at present?

    Just that I live in guildford and I'm curious

  21. Anonymous Coward

    @Obsolete Already!

    Not just Setpal boxes. I have a Thomson which is being confused by the NIT, it currently can't work out the logical channel number for the main BBC, ITV and Ch4 channels.

    Previously I had a Sagem which crashed if I was watching any BBC channela at the same time they had the news on BBC1. Sagem were no help at all - they had an 09nn number so cost a lot to ring too.

    The one press annoncement about the Sutton Coldfield trial I have seen on Digital Spy ( has as a final paragraph - "Customer satisfaction is of paramount importance to us and we will make sure those affected are given helpful information and guidance on replacement products so they can continue to enjoy the Freeview service as quickly as possible." I'm effected where's my helpful information? It's not in any correspondence you've had with me?

    On the subject of improvements to Freeview, as a technology it has been badly managed as a technical standard. As mentioned above, analogue TV PAL has undergone several revisions mono to colour, then add teletext, then add NICAM stereo, all done carefully to avoid widescale problems with existing kit. Freeview / UK DTT seems to operate on a "if the receiving kit is more than 12 months old it can be junked".

    The latest advise seems to be buy a box with a "digital tick" but no guarantee that the standard won't change so you'll need boxes with "digital tick 2".

  22. Grumpy Old Man

    HD Unready

    My current TV with built-in Freeview claims to be HD ready. I thought that meant that it would display HD broadcasts in HD. But no, I have to buy ANOTHER piece of kit for that. No wonder people are not switching.

  23. Quirkafleeg

    Re: Hmmmm (etc.)

    DVB-T via PCI card or USB stick:

    ✓ HD ‒ at least if it's handed off to the CPU or graphics hardware for decoding, and the hardware is fast enough.

    ✗ DVB-T2 – unless the packaging specifically mentions it, it's safest to assume that the device can't handle it.

    ✓ 64QAM ‒ in use, and we have some muxes using 16QAM: instant 30% capacity increase (two more shopping channels!) on those muxes when they're switched over…

    ⚠ 8k mode ‒ my DVB-T PCI cards don't seem to support this (they're not exactly current models, though), but it seems that my DVB-T USB stick does.

  24. Suburban Inmate


    For something really urgent, I'll settle for the perfectly watchable SD Freeview.

    For everything else there's a good fat broadband connection and a TV with HDMI input.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Post analogue

    I have just bought a new TV with only an analogue tuner (saved 100 quid on the freeview one). When they turn analogue off I shall simply not watch TV. I shall connect it to the PC and use it for streaming and watching DVDs.

    There's so little on TV now that I don't watch the current 4/5 channels let alone the repeats on freeview. They seem to miss that - people don't want more channels with simply the same stuff on them, even if they are in HD.

    And moving to yet another standard is just stuffing the consumer yet again, look at DAB - they want new gear for that too now. Forget it - internet radio/tv is the future - software is upgradable easily.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    More like 45 % more capacity

    "DVB-T2 is said to offer 30 per cent more data-carrying capacity as DVB-T under the same conditions."..... Not true !

    Its like 45% more capacity for a UK multiplex (QAM64 CR2/3 2k GI1/32). The 30% was the initial minimum required before the standard was written. Where large SFN's are used the capacity can be increased even more (with about 65%).

    Buying a analogue TV-set now, may well be the most sensible thing to do and add a £20 box now or wait until DSO and get the new DVB-T2 box.

    Lars :)

    And yes new hardware is necessary - Firmware will never work.

  27. Scott Mckenzie

    @Rob W

    You could always put the satellite dish in the attic, it's a bit more pricey but it works very well and gets rid of the ungainly thing on the side of the property.

    As for the "HD Ready TV" comments, i've never used the internal decoder in my set, your TV can display a HD signal - however only Panasonic currently make something with a built in HD decoder so anything sold as HD Ready in the past few years merely means it can display HD content, most likely from an external source - i.e. Sky HD, Blu Ray or HD DVD player, PS3, XBox 360 etc etc

  28. Allan Rutland

    But while the beeb time on this...

    there are us poor sods stuck up north, who are going to have our terrestrial signal turned off in January but still have no eta of when Freeview will ever become available. I have to admit, winding the feckless lot up when they take camp in there switch over bus trying to convert everyone is utterly histerical, but sadly shows typical governmental planning.

    Am just looking forward to the big switch off, they are seriously cutting the get everyone converted locally to the last minute and can't wait to see how bad this all goes when no one has any kind of TV signal unless you bought Sky or FreeSat...if they ever decide to market that a bit anyhow. But then again, both of those suffer the problem for the retired folks and those straped of cash for costing alot more than a basic Freeview box.

    As for HD Ready, not overly sure but think all it means it has a v1.2 or v1.3 HDMI port and able to decode HDCP with a screen capable of 720p or above. Don't think any kind of tuner was ever part of the spec. Partly what annoyed alot of folks who got Sky HD early on as there older TFT and Plasma's with DVI ports and not HD Ready we're being scaled down to normal resolutions. Bit of a sickener really.

    A typical British cockup waiting to happen all this Digital and HD TV milarky. It's just waiting to go utterly tit's up.

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