UK HD DTT network expanded by ten channels

Editor | 16-07-2013

The UK’s broadcast regulator Ofcom has added capacity to the UK’s high definition digital terrestrial TV (DTT) network so that viewers can receive an extra ten channels.

With the national broadcaster alone adding five channels — BBC News HD, BBC Three HD, BBC Four HD, CBeebies HD and CBBC HD — Ofcom says that the new capacity will be made available by using airwaves freed up by the digital switchover, located at 600MHz, and could triple the number of HD channels currently available on the platform.
To avoid a potential data ‘capacity crunch’ and protect the long-term future of the DTT platform, Ofcom last year proposed to reserve the 600MHz band for DTT. This would allow mobile broadband services to use the 700MHz band, currently occupied by DTT, when the next generation of mobile broadband may be introduced. Given that such a development is not likely before 2018, Ofcom is thus allowing the DTT platform to use this capacity for HD services on an interim basis until at least the middle of 2018.
Ofcom has awarded transmission company Arqiva the licence to run the new multiplexes. Arqiva, the sole applicant for the licence, has indicated already that the new channels will be broadcast to up to 70% of the UK population – above the minimum requirement of 50%.
As part of its role as multiplex operator, Arqiva says that it will build a new network which will enable a significant increase in the number of high definition channels broadcast on the DTT/Freeview platform.
Arqiva expects to confirm content agreements over the next few weeks and believes that the new services will help encourage the adoption of Freeview HD compatible television sets and set-top boxes. They will also be available on YouView set-top boxes.
“We are delighted to have been awarded this new licence. It will enable us to add a much broader range of HD services to Freeview, helping it remain the UK’s most popular way to watch television,” commented Charles Constable, managing director of Arqiva’s digital platforms division. “This represents a significant investment by Arqiva in the long-term future of the DTT platform and will increase the diversity and quality of the content available – a key policy objective for Ofcom.
Viewers will need an HD-compatible DTT receiver in order to access the new services. Ofcom calculates that about a fifth of households already have such a device.