The main question this month has been some aerial work carried out as there are problems in my area this week? And yes there has been a lot of retunes this year due to frequency changes.
How will clearance affect viewers and channel providers?
Most Freeview viewers will simply need to retune their TV equipment when this change takes place in their area. However, Ofcom has stated that between 140,000 and 270,000 homes may also need to either replace or realign their aerial to continue receiving all available channels.
Ofcom states that as part of 700MHz clearance:
14-20m homes will need to retune their TV equipment.
100,000-160,000 homes may need to replace their aerial.
40,000-110,000 may need to have their aerial realigned.
A small number of households may need to change TV platform.
Most Freeview viewers are familiar with retuning and do so from time to time to update their channel line-up, where TV equipment does not do this automatically. In some cases, more than one retune may be required where clearance takes place in multiple stages.
Aerial changes are most likely to be needed where TV services are broadcast in the aerial group C/D which uses the 700MHz frequency band. However, most homes using C/D aerials should continue to receive reliable signals after clearance.
Transmitters using group C/D
Installers replacing aerials where signals are currently transmitted in this group are recommended to advise customers about clearance and offer a wideband model. More information on wideband aerials is available on the Ofcom website.
Some viewers may also need to install a small filter at the back of their TV to prevent interference once new mobile services launch. Changes to the 700MHz band will also affect equipment used in the Programme Making and Special Events (PMSE) industry.
Freeview viewers will need to retune as clearance takes place region by region between 2017 and 2020.
Most Group C/D aerials should continue to provide reliable reception. However, some will need to be replaced.
Viewers replacing their aerial are advised to opt for a wideband model.
When is clearance happening?
Clearance of the 700MHz band began in 2017 and Ofcom has confirmed its aim to release this spectrum in Q2 2020, following a review of progress in August 2017.
Digital UK has been asked on behalf of the UK multiplex operators to co-ordinate the technical planning of the changes at TV transmitters, which will be implemented by Arqiva and will take place region by region.
Around 90% of main transmitters will require some re-engineering for clearance.
Almost all of the 1,000 smaller relays in the network are also likely to need work.
See a map of the current roll-out here (source: Ofcom).
I’m looking at buying an aerial tester and there are a few so which should I choose?
Digital Satellite Installation Meter with USB Interface – HDSM-USB
Enables the user to quickly and accurately perform satellite installations saving you time, money and reducing expensive callbacks. Up to 64 satellite selections can be stored by creating your own preferred list directly from the Horizon web site. Up to date downloads from the web site ensure that your meter has the latest settings and you can request custom files for VSAT installations.
Full Speed USB2.0 interface with the automatic driver download
Full backwards compatibility with existing HDSM downloads
Nylon F connectors for maximum durability
Fast processor with a recall of last selection used
L-Band, C-Band, Ku-Band and Ka-Band capability
Frequency range 950 to 2150MHz
LNB Pass/Fail test function
LNB short circuit protection
Satellite cable integrity test
Free product support via phone and email
Input dynamic range -65 dBm ~ -25dBm
Includes: mains charger cable, in-car charger and USB lead for data transfer
So can I buy a Communal aerial booster? and the answer is yes. They are called inline amplifiers and the go between the wall socket and your tv or Skybox. Unless it’s a communal aerial problem then you would need an engineer to come to install a new Launch Amplifier.
A communal aerial or Sky systems is usually the responsibility of the management company but sometimes they may have had a SKYQ system installed by Sky and if it is under 12 months old or not a part that was authorized by the management then that would lie with you or Sky depending on who fitted it. So if you do live in a multi-dwelling property such as a block of flats or apartments it is possible you all are using the same aerial to receive TV and satellite signals; this is known as a communal aerial system and sometimes the expression used is an IRS system. It’s usually the landlord or management committee’s responsibility to deal with any faults with a communal aerial and satellite system.