The first technical transmissions of Freeview HD have begun today.
The Winter Hill transmitter group is currently beaming broadcasts to select areas of Manchester, with the Crystal Palace group doing the same for pockets of London. They are the first in the world to adopt the DVB-T2 standard and MPEG-4.
James Jackson, BBC head of broadcast infrastructure carried out a demonstration live at the BBC Media Centre. Promotional cuts from BBC HD and ITV HD broadcast by the Crystal Hill group were displayed using brand new IDTV’s manufactured by Sony and Panasonic. Both channels were fully incorporated into the Freeview electronic programme guide.
Though the BBC broadcast was the same as is currently available on Freesat, ITV’s offering was currently just an upscaled broadcast of the ITV1 channel. ITV have committed however to broadcast most of their top peak programme scheduling in full HD as the service becomes more widespread.
The BBC hope to have a national coverage of 50% for Freeview HD in time for the 2010 World Cup, reaching its maximum 98.5% national coverage by late 2012. Channel 4 also hope to launch a Freeview HD channel in the new year, with as many as five other HD channels in the wings from the network.
For news of when your area will be receiving Freeview HD broadcasts, click here.