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BBC, Arqiva outline DTT HD upgrade plans

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BBC, Arqiva outline DTT HD upgrade plans
The BBC and transmission firm Arqiva have outlined plans to upgrade the UK's digital terrestrial television network to DVB-T2 in preparation for high definition services.

By introducing the new technology, capacity on BBC's multiplex B will be increased by 67% to create space for the commencement of HD transmissions on DTT. The forthcoming upgrade will make the BBC and Arqiva the world's first organisations to put DVB-T2 into operation on a transmission network.

Running alongside the BBC's main DTT agreement, the upgrade will commence ahead of the scheduled start of Freeview HD broadcasts in December at the Winter Hill transmitter group covering the Granada TV region.

From here, the technology will rollout region-by-region in line with the digital switchover, coupled with existing switchover areas being upgraded before the end of 2010.

Commenting on the announcement, BBC distribution controller Alix Pryde said: "The BBC's agreements with Arqiva to build the high definition infrastructure for DTT represent an important step forward that sets us on course for a successful launch in December this year. We look forward to confirming later this autumn our plans with Freeview for the consumer launch of HD services."

BBC controller research & development Matthew Postgate added: "The BBC has a long and distinguished history in developing technologies for the benefit of the wider media industry and consumer, and the work of our R&D team is as important in the digital age as it ever has been.

"The pioneering work of the team in creating the standard, in partnership with DVB, has been instrumental in bringing HD to terrestrial TV and will allow Freeview to build on its phenomenal success."

The corporation has also tasked Arqiva with building a small network of five additional transmitters to bring HD services to selected metropolitan areas before the switchover officially reaches them.

This means that London will get Freeview HD before the end of 2009, followed by dedicated transmitters coming online in Glasgow, Newcastle, Birmingham and Leeds/Bradford by spring 2010.

"This is a fantastic development for Freeview and we're delighted to be working with the BBC to bring this new technology to market as quickly as possible," said Arqiva managing director of terrestrial broadcast Steve Holebrook.

"Once again we in the UK are leading the world in television technology and this should stimulate the DVB-T2 market throughout Europe."

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