End of analogue TV era as switchover completes in the UK

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 
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• Digital TV signals boosted to reach 26 million homes
• Airwaves released for 4G mobile services
• PM praises ‘biggest change for generation’

The UK ended more than 70 years of analogue broadcasting today with the completion of digital television switchover.

Switchover has boosted digital terrestrial TV (Freeview) coverage to 10 million viewers in reception blackspots across the UK and cleared airwaves for new uses, including the next generation of mobile broadband services.

The final stage of the change got underway in the early hours of this morning after Olympic gold medallist Dame Mary Peters switched off the last analogue signals in the UK at the Divis transmitter, just outside Belfast and Freeview signals were boosted across Northern Ireland.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: ‘The UK’s switch to digital television has been the biggest single change to broadcasting for a generation. It has delivered more choice for millions of viewers and paved the way for exciting new services, securing our role as a global player in broadcasting and creative industries.’

Digital UK led co-ordination of switchover, including transmitter upgrades and the viewer information campaign. The Switchover Help Scheme has helped more than 1.3 million older and disabled viewers make the switch to digital TV and transmission company Arqiva undertook the re-engineering of more than 1,100 transmitter sites.

David Scott, Chief Executive of Digital UK, said: ‘Today is a milestone for UK television. Over the last five years switchover has modernised the terrestrial TV network and ensured that the benefits of digital are available to everyone. I want to thank the many organisations which played a part in this success and the viewers who generally took the change in their stride. I am delighted we have not only completed the task on time but also significantly under budget.’

Following the completion of switchover, some airwaves previously used for television will be auctioned for 4G high-speed mobile broadband. 4G is the fourth generation of mobile phone technology, ideally suited for video streaming, email, messenger services and social networking.