Freeview HD will officially be released late 2009, with Manchester and Liverpool the first cities to be switched on to hi-def for free.

According to Graham Plumb, Head of Distribution Technology at BBC Operations, the official date for the first transmitter to be switched on is 2 December. That transmitter, in Winter Hill, will serve the Granada region.

Digital UK update

"The plan has always been to roll Freeview HD out around the country following switchover and Winter Hill was selected as the first achievable transmitter," explains Plumb on the BBC Internet blog.

"There will need to be a retrospective upgrade of regions that have already switched."

For those living in London, you will have to wait a little bit longer, but not as long as the rest of the country, where transmitters will be upgraded in the first half of 2010.

There's good news for those who want to know exactly when there region will have HD via Freeview, with Plumb explaining: "We are also planning an upgrade to the Digital UK postcode database, which will tell viewers when they can expect their transmitter to be upgraded to Freeview HD."

Risk of slippage

Although 2 December is the official date for the first initial HD upgrade, Plumb is quick to note: "As with any major technical project, there is always a risk of slippage due to circumstances beyond anyone's control. However, there is industry-wide commitment to rolling out Freeview HD as soon as possible, and good progress is being made on all fronts."

Via What Satellite