Age of analogue is over... Digital TV switchover complete
That's that then. Starting in Whitehaven, Cumbria, at the back end of 2007, it has taken five years to complete the UK's digital TV switchover, with the Divis transmitter, just outside Belfast, having its analogue broadcasts turned off for the very last time at midnight last night.
Now Northern Ireland gets a boosted digital terrestrial (Freeview) signal like the rest of the United Kingdom and we say a fond farewell to a form of television broadcasting that stretches back more than 70 years.
Olympic gold medallist Dame Mary Peters was tasked with pushing the button to turn off the analogue service, and her actions also free up the UK's two spectrum bands for 4G services, other than the one EE will be using.
Prime minister David Cameron commented on the end of an era of analogue: "The UK’s switch to digital television has been the biggest single change to broadcasting for a generation.
"It has delivered more choice for millions of viewers and paved the way for exciting new services, securing our role as a global player in broadcasting and creative industries."
Ofcom, the UK's independent communications regulator, welcomed this last step, which it sees as one of the final important moves towards offering wider 4G services in 2013.
"The switchover to digital has freed up much needed capacity that will be used to deliver the fourth generation (4G) of mobile services," it said.
"At the end of 2012, Ofcom will start the process of auctioning the Digital Dividend, the airwaves previously occupied by analogue television."
It is expected that Vodafone and O2 will lead the auction process in securing spectrum for their own 4G networks in order to compete with EE (T-Mobile and Orange), which will launch its services on its existing 800MHz band on 30 October. Three will also acquire part of that band from EE in early 2013.
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