Switchover "completes" for Southampton, Portsmouth and Brighton
If you live in the Rowridge (Southampton, Portsmouth, Poole, Worthing), Salisbury and Whitehawk Hill (Brighton and Hove) transmitter areas you will need to take action on Wednesday morning as high power digital television services bring digital and high definition television to everyone.
Viewers in the Hampshire, the West Sussex coast and Salisbury who use the Rowridge ortransmitter (and 24 relay transmitters) plus those in the city of Brighton and Hove (using theWhitehawk Hill and 8 relays) will have no analogue television from Wednesday 21st March 2012. Unless you use cable or satellite to watch television, if you don't use aFreeview box or set, your screen will be blank.
Do not expect ANY FREEVIEW television service from midnight until 6am - or a late as 3pm on some relay transmitters (see below for timetable).
Most people need only perform a "full retune" on their Freeview box or TV, but it would be impossible with 1,872,594 homes covered by the transmitters, for no-one to have a problem.
From Wednesday 21st March 2012 you MUST have a digital television device to watch TV. If you do not have a digital receiver, from Wednesday will have a blank screen.
Because of the location of the transmitters, some viewers will find that they can pick up the signal from Rowridge from the "back" of their aerial and Whitehawk Hill from the front.
Those viewers will "Freeview HD" (or other so called D-Book 7) receivers will find they are presented with a menu to allow them to pick which BBC One region is shown on "button 1".
Viewers with older equipment may have to resort to doing a manual scan on C48, C51, C53, C56, C57,C60- to get the correct signal for Whitehawk Hill.
All Freeview boxes automatically scan the available broadcast frequencies looking for channels, and they do this from C21 to C69. Older Freeview boxes will, if a duplicate version of a channel is found whilst scanning, such as another BBC One region, placed it in the 800-899 channel range. With older boxes, a good technique is to do a "automatic scan" with the aerial disconnected from the television set or set-top box until it reaches the 50% mark.
Some Freeview boxes will pick the strongest signals for the "primary" number positions, and some will detect the different regions providing a choice when you perform a "scan for channels".
Special arrangements at Rowridge (with some service on low power on the commercial multiplexes until 18th April 2012)
The commercial multiplexes at Rowridge do not, in effect, switchover for another month.
SDN remains on C30- until 18th April 2012, when it moves to C25.
ArqB remains on C33+ until 18th April 2012, when it moves to C28.
ArqA remains on C37 until 18th April 2012, when it moves to C22+.
Rowridge will transmit both horizontally and vertically polarised signals for all six multiplexes after switchover
Rowridge's Vertical polarity commercial multiplexes (SDN, ArqA and ArqB) will come on-air on 18 April 2012 when the commercial multiplexes at Rowridge's Horizontal polarity emissions also adopt their final channel allocations. This does not affect Rowridge Vertical polarity other multiplexes, which will come on-air at switchover.
Switchover help scheme
If you are over 75, get (or could get) Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance or mobility supplement; or have lived in a care home for six months or more; or are registered blind or partially sighted and need assistance, please see The Switchover Help Scheme.
Cable and satellite
Cable (Virgin Media) and satellite (Sky, Freesat, fSfS) viewers are not affected by the changes. Remember, however, that you may be using analogue TV to watch on a second or third set and it might need a Freeview box.
If you are not on the list, you should scan your box from around 6am.
When you now rescan, you MUST do a "first time installation" or "factory reset" scan (sometimes called "shipping state"), not a simple "add channels". Do the procedure you did on "national retune day", September 30th 2009, see Freeview Retune - list of manuals.
If you live close to the transmitter, you may have to disconnect any "boosters" from your aerial system.The new, more powerful digital signals may overload any amplifiers and result in no reception! When looking for them include a check for distribution amplifiers, loft boxes, set back amplifiers, bypass Amplifiers, hidden masthead amps in a loft space and any dodgy active splitters.
If you had no Freeview service before, you will have the BBC channels digitally from Wednesday 7th March 2012. This is a single multiplex of the BBC channels (radio, television and text) for most people.
However, if you were on the fringes of reception from one of the main Freeview transmitters, you will now get all the Freeview channels.
If you didn't get this limited Freeview service on Wednesday 7th March 2012 then you may need a new aerial.
If you are served by a public service (relay) transmitter, which are:
Your comments: most recent posts are at the bottom
Your comments are always welcome. Please use the form below to add your thoughts or questions to this page. We will get back to you as soon as we can.
Nicholas Willmott Tuesday 20 March 2012 10:36AM
Your reference to Rowridge should also include east Dorset. Rowridge extends as far west as Dorchester, and even a bit further west of that. Winterbourne Steepletonrelay is actually west of Dorchester.
That's bad news, both yet another retune, and the lower reception, but thanks for it anyway, Brian. I hadn't heard about either issue anywhere else at all.
I see ArqA and ArqB are switching to 64QAMmode. I've read your terrific technical details about the different modes. But what is the governing factor(s) which make that "slightly harder to receive"? Geography? Type/location/orientation of aerial? Freeviewreceiver's handling? I'm trying to see if there's anything I can do, if the month of under-powered 64QAM proves to be a problem.
Thanks again for this astonishing site. Wishlist item: a bare-bones RSS feed for (just) the faults or engineering work (per postcode/transmitter).
Mike: C21 is the high-definition multiplex, and it broadcasts in a mode that is not compatible with SD boxes. You will only be able to pick it up on Freeview HD-branded equipment. A TV marked 'HD Ready' is not good enough, in the UK - that just means the TV *could* display HD pictures *if* they're provided by some other piece of equipment.
Sally: In effect, the increase in bandwidth caused by switching to 64QAMmode from 16QAM mode means that the signal level is "slightly lower".
What this means is that there will be some people who were on the fringe of the reception area (and therefore could not receive multiplex A before switchover) who will fall "off the digital cliff" with the mode change.
There's not really anything you can do about this as the problem is that the signal level compared to the background noise level (the signal-to-noise ratio) is exceeded for reception.
The best thing to do, as it is only until Crystal Palace release the final frequencies, is wait for another month.
Sally: The factors that makes them slightly harder to receive are that the receiver has to distinguish between more different levels (four rather than two), and more different phases (16 rather than 8).
Anything that reduces the signal level available, or increases the noise or interference level, will increase the difficulty of reception. Reception in the UK is usually interference-limited: that is, the limit of the coverage area is down to interference from other stations, rather than due to obstructions reducing the available signal level, or the inherent thermal noise generated by the receiver's electronics. (Obstructions are largely a problem when the interfering signals are *not* obstructed.) For C33 (ArqB's temporary home), the major source of interference in the UK is Crystal PalaceBBC Two, though there are also some relays in the south-east such as Eastbourne. There may also be interfering stations in France.
Because BBC Two is the first to shut down at Crystal Palace, you may see an improvement on Rowridge ArqB's reliability from 4 April.
As far as Digital UK's postcode checker is concerned, only Mux D has converted to ArqB at Rowridge; Mux C is still running in its pre-switchovermode.
Jessica Wednesday 21 March 2012 2:33PM Southampton
I have a Freeview HD TV (yes - it has the HD capability built into it) and I have been waiting for months for this switchover so I can finally receive the HD channels. I live in SO30 2AG in Southampton.
I have just retuned my set and no Freeview HD channels are showing in the EPG and none are found by scanning.
1) Are you on a communal aerial system (block of flats or similar)? If so, the distribution system may not have been adjusted for the HD channel. It's actually on Ch 21+, which is slightly offset from the normal frequency.
2) Something in your setup is not allowing the Ch21+ signbal through properly, or it's getting mangled in the link. Try removing any aerial amplifiers, distribution amplifiers, splitters etc and connecting the TV directly to the aerial downlead, then try a retune again.
3) You must make sure that you have done a full "first time installation" when you retune - not just adding channels.
4) Check that you are getting all of the 5 standard definition multiplexes. If not, either you are not using the Rowridge transmitter, or something else is wrong with your aerial setup. Can you confirm that your aerial is pointing to the Rowridge transmitter?
5) It may be worth getting your aerial turned to vertical polarisation, but if you do this before the 18th April then you will most likely lose 3 of your existing Multiplexes, as they don't transmit in VP until then.
Jessica: Another possibility is, that although being located at 18 miles from the Rowridge transmitter because of its sheer power you could be suffering from an excessive level of signal that is overloading the tuner and blocking reception, this type problem having more of an effect on HD reception because of its more critical nature.
For a test if you have access to a set top aerial plug that in and try a scan on Ch21, although if the signal is too strong then an attenuator in line with the aerial is the only permanent cure for this problem, an attenuator of a minimum of 10db being recommended.
Yes is missing on all my equipment the rest of Ch33 is there but no Sky Text
Having lost Ceefax the only suitable alternative was Sky Text and that's gone as well.
BBC Red Button is far too tedious after the simple functionality of Ceefax
Bunbury: Sky Text moves from Mux D to ArqA at switchover. Because Rowridge hasn't fully switched to the final configurations, with Mux D having been replaced by ArqB, but Mux C not yet replaced by ArqA, Sky Text has fallen through the cracks. It'll be back on 18 April.
I can't recall, is there even a text-based news service on there any more? Last I remembered, Sky were using it to run interactive games along with Challenge.
BBC Red Button has exactly the same content as Ceefax (which is a waste, because Red Button has far more capacity). They're generated by the same system. Sometimes this is obvious, when a Red Button page doesn't render properly - I hope the BBC will soon change this to be primarily written for Red Button and Ceefax derived from that. [Usually, the Ceefax and Red Button content is the first four paragraphs of the online article, which is why online articles sometimes read strangely.]
You can still type page numbers to move to a specific page you want to read, or can scroll around and select an item to read. The only real differences are that you have to press Down to show the next screen of a longer story, or Up to scroll back up, and that the coloured buttons now operate other features rather than being context-sensitive jump keys.
In my view, manual scrolling is better than the automatic scrolling that inevitably left you waiting too long to see the next screenful, or took it away before you'd finished reading. Pressing Green gives you a shortcuts menu, but I can't remember if that's context-sensitive (i.e. shows you related pages) or whether it simply has the same list all the time.
The BBC do appear to have decided to use very large fonts, and only half the screen most of the time, which does mean that you have to scroll more to see the whole story, compared to the number of screens on Ceefax.
The Digital Switch Over process for the Rowridge transmitter group, serving south Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, parts of Dorset, Wiltshire and West Sussex, has been successfully implemented by Arqiva. Whitehawk Hill in Brighton and its dependent relays have also completed the switch to all-digital TV.
Following the analogue switch-off for BBC Two on 7 March, the remaining analogue signals ceased from 00:14 on Wednesday 21 March. The new digital signals entered official service at Rowridge at 05:30, and at Whitehawk Hill from 03:10, with the last of the relays completed by 17:35
As jb38 suggested, I tried a set-top aerial and lo and behold, it did find the FreeviewHD channels, however the reception on the normal Freeview channels was poor and there was a high-pitched noise coming from my speakers with the set-top aerial turned on.
I'm going to buy an attenuator this afternoon and see how I go.
Jessica: Its possibly a bit late as you may already have bought it, but I suppose you do know that its not so much switching a booster off but more of by-passing it by coupling its input and output leads together, as if you switch a booster off it can kill the signal more than is required.
This by the way, applying to any booster whether it be mast head or other "behind the set" types.
All my freeview stations where perfect before the wednesday switchover but know ITV4 will not tune in and I have tried a number of times at various times in the day,
my freeview is built into a Panasonic DVD recorder.
rowridge muxes on Horizontal polarity SDN - ARQa - ARQb still have only 50kw of power as their final situation come 2014
But vertically they are all 200kw? this can't be correct can it? if it is then half the muxes are no better than they were pre switchover?
The retune on 21st worked OK and all expected channels are available from Rowridge. On my Sony KDL-32EX703 both signal strength and quality are reported as 100% for the HD channel.
However I notice that when the 'Info' is displayed the resolution shown flips back and forth between 1080p and 1080i even within a single programme.
Is this normal and if so what is the cause ?
I live in Sandown(IOW) to the rear of the mast at Rowridge. Using a loft aerial I now get a pretty good signal for the BBC, ITV and HD but the ones scheduled for 18th April are very poor. Given that they will only be a quarter of the power of the other channels after switchover I presume I will be better off turning my A group aerial to vertical after 18th to get full power on all muxes.
Sally; The main drawback will be felt towards the edge of the Rowridge service area where interference between the Rowridge signal and the signal from a local PSB-only relay occurs, blocking reception from both. In such cases it will probably be unnecessary to use the relay as signals from a main station will usually be available, but it will be frustrating for viewers wanting to receive the COM muxes who are prevented from doing so by the relay that they don't need!
Thanks Mark and KMJ. A little east of Bognor Regis, I'm not *very* near the edge of Rowridge coverage, and mostly receive all channels okay. But it's not unusual to get interference (even aside from mowers and motorbikes, ugh), and already the higher power on the public mux's seem to be much more resistant than the commercial mux's.
So I'd certainly like to have the higher power vertical reception, if feasible. But I see from the maps here that the Findonrelay service area overlaps Bognor Regis, and then some. So is there any guessing whether, if I switch to vertical, Findon interference will trump the higher power from Rowridge? Or is it only possible to tell in practice?
Would Findon interference be immediately obvious (e.g. channels not appearing), or would it come and go depending on atmospheric conditions, etc, in the same way as, er, normal interference?
Would a different aerial (wideband at the moment) better grab Rowridge while rejecting Findon (if Findon is likely to be a problem)?
Sally: Findon uses a different (higher) frequency than the corresponding muxes use on Rowridge, so if there is a signal from both transmitters there would not be a frequency clash. The problem which could occur would be where a viewer receives a strong Findon signal, for which they wish to store the channels, but a weak Rowridge signal is found first in the scan and these channels stored instead. You mention aerials, if the one you already have works well then no need to worry, however if you did want one which favoured Rowridge and picked up less of the unwanted frequencies (including 4G signals, if they ever became a problem) then the use of a group "A" aerial would concentrate the gain on Rowridge frequencies.
Sally.If you decide to opt for the full package from the main all group A frequencied Rowridge transmitter,then your current group W widebandaerial is useless in a poor/marginal signal area within this mast due to the poor/inferior performance of group W wideband aerials on group A frequencies on all group A masts such as Rowridge as an example.Poor performances such as low signal gain and in some cases pixellations and even failing to pick up the lowest frequencies common with cheap contract aerials are examples as such.
Your best bet is to buy a superior group A Yagi18A or preferably at your location a slightly more stronger group A X-Beam XB16A aerial,buying of course at the same time superior black or brown coloured copper-copper co-ax cable and importantly superior brass co-ax plugs,not alloy or worse plastic plugs they're useless.Look up the ATV (Aerials and Television of Sheffield) website,you will find that in my honest opinion they are the No1 aerial and accessories retailer in the UK today,and i do highly recommend ATV believe me they are the best,forget the rest !
Thanks again, KMJ and Mark. So, I'll wait for the 18th April, rotate the aerial, and see how things look for a while. If it sucks, I can think about investing in a good Group A aerial (and cable+bits).
Does rotating itself require a re-tune? Or will the current tuning work for either horizontal or vertical?
Sally: The frequencies for the COM muxes at Rowridge will change on 18th April 2012, so you will need to re-tune, but after doing so, as the same frequency will be used for both horizontal and vertical polarisation, you won't need to re-tune when changing the polarisation of the aerial.
please can sombody tell me why my epg on my panasonic only shows bbc hd icon and not itv channel four digital one say becaus part of rowridge group and wait until 18 april because salisbury is off air fed from rowridge. aquiva say salisbury is land line fed. who is correct?
Tom Allen: That is perfectly normal. The encoder software detects on a frame-by-frame basis if interlaced or progressive encoding results in the best output, so the decoder will show this as switching between 1080i and 1080p dynamically.
Tom Allen Thursday 19 April 2012 8:08PM Dorchester
thanks again. Interesting but certainly no such troubles on my Sony KDL 32EX703 now at firmware version PKG4-110-EUL-0108 with a modest plate reflector aerial in the loft and still mounted horizontally .