Predicted coverage of public service and commercial digital television multiplexes following switchover

13 February 2007

Ofcom believes that stakeholders may find it useful to have some background on terrestrial digital television coverage. Below is some information on UK-wide and individual transmitter coverage based on the facts currently available to Ofcom (-1-)


During the period from 2008 to 2012, analogue television services will be replaced by digital television services across the UK, a process known as digital switchover.

In December 2006, Ofcom made a statement on the coverage that must be achieved by these digital television services post switchover (-2-). In this statement Ofcom confirmed that it would include conditions in the licences of the Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs) to ensure that their terrestrial digital services substantially match the coverage achieved by analogue television services. There are similar conditions on the BBC’s services not licensed by Ofcom through its Charter and Agreement.

In the same statement, Ofcom also confirmed that the post-switchover coverage of the three commercial multiplexes should at least match that which they currently achieve.

To achieve these coverage objectives, the PSBs will broadcast their three digital multiplexes from all existing analogue transmitter sites. The three commercial multiplexes will broadcast from a smaller number of transmitters, but at least from the transmitters that they currently use.

UK Frequency plan

Digital broadcasting frequency plans were agreed across Europe at an international planning conference held in Geneva in 2006. This agreement forms the backbone of the UK’s digital switchover plan and the coverage figures presented below are based upon the latest version of the UK’s frequency plan (-3-). However, some work is still being carried out to optimise the plan, and discussions are continuing with our neighbours in Europe to maximise coverage. Some small changes may therefore occur.

The latest plan assumes that the PSB multiplexes will be broadcast from 1,160 transmitter sites and the commercial multiplexes from 80 transmitter sites (-4-).

Comparison of UK-wide coverage figures

Below are two tables illustrating the current and future coverage for terrestrial television services. For consistency, both sets of figures have been derived using the same frequency planning model.

Table 1 provides UK-wide figures for the coverage that is currently achieved by analogue and digital services. In both cases the figures represent core coverage. In the case of analogue television, core coverage taken to be households that are estimated to be able to receive the four analogue services of BBC ONE, BBC TWO, ITV and Channel4/S4C (-5-). The 6MUX figure is the number of households estimated to be able to receive all six digital multiplexes.

Table 1. Estimated UK coverage at present
  UK Households UK%
Analogue coverage 24.8 million 98.5%
6MUX coverage 18.4 million 73%

In Table 2, figures are given for the coverage predicted to be achieved by digital services post switchover. 3PSB coverage refers to households which are predicted to be covered by all three PSB multiplexes, while 6MUX refers to the number of households that are predicted to be able to receive all three PSB multiplexes and the three commercial multiplexes.

Table 2. Predicted UK coverage post switchover
  UK Households UK%
3PSB coverage at switchover 24.8 million 98.5%
6MUX coverage 22.8 million 90.5%

Detailed population coverage by transmitter

It is currently assumed that the commercial multiplexes will broadcast from 80 transmitter sites. Figures have been presented in Table 3 for the gross coverage expected to be achieved by the PSB and commercial multiplexes from these 80 transmitters.

Gross coverage refers to the maximum area that a transmitter can cover. All households that are predicted to be able to receive a service from the transmitter in question are counted, even if they are in areas which have an overlapping service from neighbouring transmitters. Thus, households in areas where transmitters overlap are counted several times over, once for each transmitter that can be received. The actual number of households that receive services from a particular transmitter (generally referred to as net coverage) will in general be somewhat lower.

Table 3. Predicted Gross Coverage from 80 6Mux Sites
6 Mux Transmission Site Gross 3PSB 1000s Households Gross 6MUX 1000s Households
Aberdare 24 24
Angus 408 305
Beacon Hill 127 104
Belmont 2,298 1,467
Bilsdale 1,707 1,328
Black Hill 1,345 1,289
Blaenplwyf 13 9
Bluebell Hill 616 456
Bressay 5 5
Brierley Hill 128 107
Bristol Ilchester Crescent 57 55
Bristol Kings Weston 97 75
Bromsgrove 351 273
Brougher Mountain 47 26
Caldbeck 145 117
Caradon Hill 254 211
Carmel 154 97
Chatton 315 168
Chesterfield 61 55
Craigkelly 645 527
Crystal Palace 5,173 4,410
Darvel 511 203
Divis 516 419
Dover 361 252
Durris 297 233
Eitshal 11 10
Emley Moor 2,398 2,004
Fenham 410 291
Fenton 162 137
Guildford 159 95
Hannington 655 537
Hastings 29 27
Heathfield 184 172
Hemel Hempstead 201 162
Huntshaw Cross 67 51
Idle 170 110
Keelylang Hill 14 13
Keighley 94 71
Kilvey Hill 168 144
Knockmore 56 42
Lancaster 149 108
Lark Stoke 444 345
Limavady 74 69
Llanddona 85 46
Malvern 105 84
Mendip 1,323 1,207
Midhurst 143 132
Moel Y Parc 749 550
Nottingham 232 155
Olivers Mount 39 32
Oxford 592 461
Pendle Forest 120 108
Plympton 77 71
Pontop Pike 1,024 1,003
Pontypool 108 17
Presely 129 45
Redruth 152 101
Reigate 285 125
Ridge Hill 417 360
Rosemarkie 69 66
Rosneath VP 237 147
Rowridge HP 945 431
Rowridge VP 1,096 803
Rumster Forest 67 40
Saddleworth 88 51
Salisbury 34 30
Sandy Heath 1,614 1,120
Selkirk 36 31
Sheffield 335 237
Stockland Hill 376 219
Storeton 218 99
Sudbury 762 602
Sutton Coldfield 3,043 2,703
Tacolneston 415 358
The Wrekin 1,062 727
Torosay 8 7
Tunbridge Wells 149 143
Waltham 1,589 1,008
Wenvoe 822 590
Whitehawk Hill 135 133
Winter Hill 3,065 2,887

8 February 2007


1.- While every reasonable effort is made to ensure that the information provided in this document is accurate, no guarantees for the currency or accuracy of information are or can be made. The information contained in this document is provided without any representation or endorsement made and without warranty of any kind, whether express or implied.

2.- The Statement on switchover related changes to DTT licences is available on the Ofcom website

3.- Version 5.41, November 2006

4.- SDN multiplex additionally operates from the Ferryside transmitter but as the coverage is very low this is not included in these figures

5.- A shortage of available frequencies means that the coverage achieved by Channel 5 (Five) is less extensive than the four longer-established analogue networks.