Additional high definition (HD) television services are expected to launch on Freeview before the end of 2013.
These new services will be broadcast on the 600MHz band, which is a portion of the airwaves freed up by the digital switchover
To be able to watch these new channels you’ll need a Freeview HD TV or set-top box receiver. That’s because all HD channels on Freeview are broadcast using something called DVB-T2. If you can watch the existing Freeview HD services on your TV or set-top box, it will also be capable of receiving HD services.
The digital television standards used by TV services in Europe were developed by an international cross-industry group called the Digital Video Broadcasting Project (or DVB).
It developed standards for satellite (DVB-S), cable television (DVB-C) as well as for terrestrial television (DVB-T).
Although standard Freeview channels still use DVB-T, DVB-T2 is the most up-to-date type of digital signal.
These signals are almost twice as efficient as DVB-T. For example, without DVB-T2 it would not have been possible to launch HD services on Freeview without reducing the range of existing standard definition channels.
DVB-T2 signals are more resilient against certain types of interference than DVB-T.
Freeview HD receivers also have to include certain features that make life easier for viewers, such as being able to specify a preferred TV region which will ensure that the correct local news service is put at the top of the channel list. This is a very useful feature in areas where programme regions overlap.
Freeview HD or Freeview HD+ TV sets or set-top boxes are compatible with DVB-T2 and will be able to receive the additional services where they are available.
However, standard Freeview or Freeview+ receivers only work with DVB-T signals and so will not receive the additional services.
Viewers that do not have a Freeview HD set will not lose any programmes they currently receive, although they will not be able to enjoy the new services unless they upgrade to Freeview HD.
DVB-T2 will enable Freeview to continue to develop in the future. This is because it will make more efficient use of the limited available spectrum and enable a wider range of HD content to be made available. Following consultation, Ofcom therefore made it a condition that these additional services using the 600 MHz band must be launched using the DVB-T2 standard to encourage uptake of compatible receivers.
In some areas, people may need to install a wideband TV aerial (if they do not already have one) to be able to receive the additional HD services reliably.
Before buying anything, check whether your area is predicted to be served by the additional services. If it is and you are not able to receive them on your Freeview HD receiver once they have launched, you may need to seek advice from a competent aerial installer.