Freeview HD To Launch On December 2nd

Graham Plumb, Head of Distribution Technology at BBC Operations, has announced that Freeview HD could be switched on by the 2nd of December, roughly six months from now.

He also announced that there are plans to bring "an upgrade to the Digital UK postcode database, which will tell viewers when they can expect their transmitter to be upgraded to Freeview HD."

Liverpool and Manchester would be the first major cities to receive Freeview HD as the Winter Hill television transmitter, which is one of the most important in the UK, kickstarts the revolution.

London and the rest of the country will have to wait until mid 2010 to get extensive coverage as transmitters at Crystal Palce and four other locations near urban areas are switched on. It is likely that London will get Freeview HD just on time for the 2010 South African World Cup.

Consumers will need to upgrade their set top boxes and in the worst cases, the television set and the aerials will need to be replaced as well. Four channels - BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, will be initially broadcasted in glorious 720p resolution.

In April 2008, media regulator Ofcom announced that the upgrade to Freeview HD would start taking place in 2009 with the deadline for a complete roll out set for 2012, before the London Olympics kicks in.

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Freeview HD boxes cost as little as £94.99 (Bush black Freesat HD digital box) but that excludes installation which can almost cost the same as the box itself. Mr Plumb also noted that there will be some significant technical and contractual challenges which are made more acute by the current recession.

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