LONDON:  Communications regulator Ofcom on Thursday unveiled a new timetable for an accelerated rollout of high definition television across the UK.

The change in momentum is owed to a major technological upgrade of digital terrestrial television,  which the watchdog claims to have facilitated. 

It claims the upgrade will take place without the loss of TV services currently available to Freeview and cable viewers, delivering major benefits for ... 

  • Viewers, who will be able to access an array of new channels and services through their television aerials and new HD set top boxes.
  • Broadcasters, who will be able to deliver a greater range of services while continuing to deliver the channels that are currently available on Freeview, using existing spectrum; and
  • The economy, by making better use of the valuable spectrum reserved for broadcasting.
The changes mean that viewers using new receiving equipment should be able to receive up to four (initially three) new HD channels as digital switchover starts in the North and North-West in 2009 with nationwide completion by 2012.

Says Ofcom ceo Ed Richards: "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to upgrade digital terrestrial television. It offers benefits for broadcasters - who will be able to launch new services without using any new spectrum - and viewers - who will have access to new channels and services on free to air."

Data sourced from Ofcom (UK); additional content by WARC staff