Customers and retailers have been left frustrated and angry by the lack of standard definition Freesat boxes available, but Freesat has told TechRadar it is working hard to solve the problem.

Freesat has been using HD as one of its key selling points, especially with having ITV HD exclusively at the current time.

However, customer demand for SD Freesat set top boxes, which are currently only manufactured by Harvard International is still high.

"Demand for Freesat SD boxes manufactured by Harvard International plc (formerly the Alba Group plc) is incredibly high," Freesat said in a statement. "Freesat continues to work with retailers and Harvard International to ensure additional stock is made available to meet the continued high demand for Freesat products."

Frustration

However, independent trader Bill Wright told Techradar, that the lack of equipment is causing major problems.

"Speaking as an independent trader, we waited impatiently for Freesat for a long time," said Wright.

"Finally it arrived, and at last we had a good satellite-delivered alternative to Sky for customers who don't want to pay subscriptions.

"Then just after Christmas, the supply of standard definition receivers dried up, and apparently there won't be any more until mid-summer.

"We have just completed a TV distribution system at a sheltered housing scheme.

"Digital terrestrial reception in the area is too poor to use, so the system is primarily intended for Freesat.

"The plan was to help the old people get set up for Freesat, but now we find that the receivers are unobtainable. Of course we are getting the blame!"

Hindering growth

Wright believes that the failure to have the cheaper boxes available is hindering the growth of the Freesat service.

"I find it very frustrating that Freesat, which seemed to be such a good thing for British broadcasting, has been stopped in its tracks by some sort of inept supply chain cock-up.

"Freesat's natural constituency is, in part, people who aren't well off, and also people who don't regard TV as an important part of their lives.

"These people are not going to pay £160 for an HD receiver."

Freesat responds

Freesat's Marketing and Communications Director Will Abbott told TechRadar that there should be more stock available by the end of the month,

"There is a lot of demand particular in some rural and regional areas," confirmed Abbott.

We are a very future focused company and HD is really important to us but SD is still important and it is a cost effective way of converting a second, third or even fourth television.

"We're aware that there is continued high demand and we think more stock should be available next month.

"I am sympathetic with those affected and we take on board the comments. It is important, particularly in switchover areas, and it's something we are aware of and are addressing."