Digital UK has released a map of the United Kingdom that shows when the government will be switching off existing analogue TV transmissions.
Starting in 2008 and ending in 2012, the so-called 'digital switchover' will transform TV services in the UK. On a TV-region-by-TV-region basis, the UK's existing television services will ultimately be replaced by the new DVB-T, aka Freeview service.
The new map reflects the greater detail now available for the timetable in each region, by including the completion date for those regions. The switchover programme itself straddles two years in each region.
The digital switchover is easily the biggest change to terrestrial broadcasting since the invention of colour TV back in the 1960s. Any TV set or video recorder that has not been converted or upgraded to receive digital signals when the switchover takes place will no longer be able to receive TV programmes.
The switchover offers UK broadcasters the chance to provide more choice and better quality television. The BBC already operates a cluster of digital-only channels, such as BBC Three and CBeebies. ITV broadcasts ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 on Freeview, while Channel 4 runs More4, E4 and Film Four channels.
Freeview is the basic and, bar the cost of a set-top box to receive it, the free solution. There are also pay TV options that you can consider. Sky Digital, for example, offers 500 channels via digital satellite; NTL and Telewest offer similar TV services using digital cable; while BT is lining up its BT Vision IPTV service to deliver TV services over a broadband connection.