back to article Granada to start losing analog telly tomorrow

The Granada TV region will lose part of its analog signal tomorrow, paving the way for stronger Freeview digital broadcasts. The region, which stretches North of Lancaster down to into Cheshire, taking in Manchester and Liverpool on the way, is served by the Winter Hill transmitter. A mountainous neck of the woods, the Granada …

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the answer to the question is no

(the "does it have to take that long" one)

...but the question is, *why* is it taking so long? I use FreeSat, so I'm now unaffected, but I use FreeSat because I live in an area between two regions where FreeView reception was very poor. I'm sure that I am not alone, and surely getting rid of the analogue signal ASAP benefits everyone (except people not interested in any FreeView channels, I know there will be some people who say "I only watch Sky Sports" or those who are only interested in BBC2 and get spot on analogue reception).

I know some people don't understand the analogue -> digital switch but wouldn't it have been a better use of resources to blitz the whole country with information in one go and get everyone talking about it rather than eking things out?

Try as I might though, I can't think of a suitable conspiracy for this slowing of things down. It must just be incompetence somewhere.

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wales

urm, they've been switching analogue off in wales for a few weeks now.....

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@Paw Bokenfohr

It's taking a while because things have to be done in a particular order because of the way frequencies are reused in different areas, so to avoid interference, and because many transmitter sites have required considerable re-engineering, including replacing the masts at many.

With the analogue services they could drop the power when they needed to do work on the mast. People further away from it got a reduced signal which may have been ghosty or had interference. In digital they'd get nothing. So many tx sites have received a second high power transmitting aerial, designed so that engineers can safely climb through it to get to the main aerial higher up the mast. This extra weight has meant the original masts weren't sufficient at many sites.

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Coat

It has to take this long...

... because Arqiva don't have enough people (I refuse to call them engineers when it's spanner-wielders who probably have no engineering qualifications) to make the required changes to all the network infrastructure. In a lot of cases they're physically building replacement masts (see Caldbeck) or shuffling the transmitter position on the masts.

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@Paw

Anyone watching Sky Sports went digital some time ago, and need pay no attention to this "digital switchover" malarkey/fiasco (choose whichever you prefer).

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The answer possibly is..

To allow consumers to purchase digi boxes over a period of a couple of years rather than in a big rush.

Imagine the panic on switch over day and the extortionate prices that evil shops and ebayers would charge knowing how desperate people would be that they don't miss Sickly Go Away Dancing and Crap-Factor.

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Hmm

So does this mean the 2 seconds of silence every 4-5 minutes is fixed in Granada? Cos it bloody well isn't here. Freeview is unwatchable thanks to that.

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WTF?

Telly??

Don't we all watch iPlayer et al nowadays?

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FAIL

It's taking so long because...

all transmitters are being switched off by a single engineer and he only has a push-bike for transportation between them in these environmentally-conscious times.

Meanwhile the quango behind the switch are billing the country for a workforce of 300, each with company cars and full benefits, plus consultancy and call out fees.

Nothing to see here, just another botched attempt for Britain to catch up with our continental neighbours.

</rant>

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Freeview HD

any indications of if/when the freeview hd kit is going to be available, seeing as I'm in the NW where it's meant to be starting up soon.

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Anonymous Coward

DSO

It is probably taking so long because there is a lot of work involved both at all the high power main stations and at the 1000 relay stations.

Are people suggesting that all the work is done but the equipment mothballed for one big changeover on 2012? Meanwhile all the staff have to try and keep the old equipment working.

Or a blitz on publicity at the start so people go out and buy new sets or STBs then find that they cannot use them for a year or so.

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Alien

2012 rollout

UTV area also doesn't put analogue in the recycle bin until 2012, being one of the more geographically large areas, it will also affect those in the RoI who pick up a weak signal to watch the likes of the F1, football and X-Factor.

Those of us who rent an apartment without a freesat dish or a decent roof aerial will now go from the old speckly broadcasts to the new blocky, jerky, blackscreen bad digital signal broadcasts.

As far as conspiracies go, I'm surprised a man from mars hasn't been on linking the 2012 eventual rollout, hidden signals in the MPEG encoding and the end of the world predicted by the Mayan calendar.

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Conspiracy?

>Try as I might though, I can't think of a suitable conspiracy for this slowing of things down. It >must just be incompetence somewhere.

Not incompetence, just logistics. There's a team doing the switch and they're working their way round the country. Doing it all in one go would require a small army of engineers to be trained up and work in parallel. Plus it's not just throwing a switch - there's new equipment required at the transmitter sites and that all needs to be sourced, paid for, tested and installed; again much easier and cheaper to do incrementally.

That and the Euro anti-interference regs.

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Pint

Confusion

This can only be adding to the confusion. Wait till the whole of Wales is ready to change then switch a the same time. Then wait till the whole of England is ready and switch at the same time etc. etc. This would minimise bad press to one day/week as opposed to years of small stories of people being confused and save all the tabloid readers from so many tears. :'( poor tabloid readers.

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Unhappy

We lost BBC2 a few weeks ago

Problem is that now with analogue going, we have also lost 302 on Freeview and the news multiscreen. All this is for High Definition, however, there aren't any HD equipment about. They have removed 302 way too early!

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Anonymous Coward

@Mark Scorah

Apparently it's due around Christmas from Winter Hill, but I wouldn't hold your breath. And you'll most likely need a new Freeview box

And I'd suggest they're not doing one massive switch over as sites will need to be optimised to maximise coverage, and the manpower doesn't exist to sort the whole country in one hit. The bloke on his bike that BOBSta mentioned would have a coronary...

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@Hmm

I know what you mean. My mum and dad, being of the older generation, watch some programs on the "yesterday" channel, which gives 2 seconds of silence every so often. I have freeview in my room and i get the perfect reception. I have more stations than my parents etc.

Bizarre

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Megaphone

BBC2 first

My guess is that they're retiring BBC2 before the other channels as a final, un-ignorable warning to people who still haven't clued up that analog TV is on the way out. It'll force them to ask at a TV shop why they've lost BBC2, and they'll come out clasping a digibox, and then it won't work until they buy a new aerial as well and someone teaches them which remote control is for what. It's going to be a horrible shock to some technophobic grannies living on the state pension.

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Go

@SteveB

Thanks for the only sensible answer so far... though you've still got to wonder how long it takes to build a new mast... I mean they're galvanised steel frames. The Japanese would think "hmm, this digital thing's a good idea!" and have the masts replaced by a week next Tuesday.

Saying that, I'd bet that the rollout also allows them to pay off loans or otherwise spread the financial load of upgrading rather than dropping all of that cash at once- only to find that it doesn't work properly.

The Digital switchover can't come fast enough up here- Durris really is awful!

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@AC 16:14

A TV transmitter mast isn't "just a galvanised steel frame" ! They are significant civil engineering projects in their own right, and one of the characteristics of good transmitter sites is that they tend to be on top of hills in inhospitable conditions - WInter Hill is probably quite nice on a calm summer day, it certainly isn't in winter. Also, don't forget that the original Emley Moor transmitter mast was brought down in 1969 by ice accretion (possibly also involving structural oscillation, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emley_Moor_transmitting_station).

As for Winter Hill : "The main mast structure is 309.48 metres (1,015 ft) tall and has a diameter of 2.75 metres (9.0 ft)" ... "at 778.1 metres (2,553 ft) above sea level, Winter Hill has the highest television transmitting antenna in the UK" Trust me, in winter you do not want to be up there !

There has been considerable engineering work on the Winter Hill tower, and this has been constrained by the weather - being limited to summer, and then restricted on some days due to wind. This sort of work isn't something you can pop down to the local Job Centre and pick up a handful of mechanics for, so that naturally required that switchover be phased so as to allow all the owrk to be done by the number of qualified people available.

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They Yanks did it all at once......

They did postpone it from February to June, so that people wouldn't fall off their ice-covered roofs when trying to tweak their antennas, and the individual broadcasters were responsible for their own kit, but all in all, it went reasonably well.

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Anonymous Coward

"Analog"?

What's this "analog" of which you speak? El Reg was still a UK-based site last I looked.

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Grenade

DVB-2 switchs On Dec 2009 and STILL NO DVB-T2 STBs in the shop

"The region, which stretches North of Lancaster down to into Cheshire, taking in Manchester and Liverpool on the way, is served by the Winter Hill transmitter."

Great, and the One thing that really matters Yet again, 4 WEEKS from NOW, the new DVB-T2 digital Freeview terestial HD Transmissions begin on the very same Transmitters will be officiallly turn ON.

your usual DVB-T SD kt sat under your tele is and will NOT be able to play any of these new DVB-T2 transmissions as they were not made to the newer standard.

thats just 29 days untill the 2nd of december, 2009 DVB-T2 BBC broadcasts begin

from the NW Winter Hill transmitter and yet there are still NO capable STBs for terrestial HD DVB broadcast ready and waiting in the shops or even the wholesalers.

hell, it appears theres not even any UK ready DVB-2 kit sat in containers ready for shopping from the far east were most of the bulk of the device will eventually made an theres are NO Manufactuing shops within the UK that a are even capable of making a first batch of any such DVB-T2 STB or USB2 .

how can the UK regulators and the BBC that made/commissioned the OEM DVB-T2 STBS and USB's all these other OEMs will be based on get it so wrong yet again.

if you cant actually buy the newer HD DVB-T2 capable kit down your local ASDA ON or Before the day, you Cant tune in and watch this new NW Winter Hill transmitter DBV-T2 on Dec2nd 2009.

who gets the blame this massive broadcasting DVB-T2 reception cockup this time, and why dont the papers care to tell the UK people in the massive North Westarea's theres a very BIG UK broadcast problem happening in 4 weeks al the way until someone actually ships and sells the kit you Need.

No HD DVB-T2 STB receiver kit, means no HD broadcasts for you then at christmas and so, NO real incentive to buy that brand new HD TV and related kit for the DVB masses this Chrismas season.

i guess its going to be rather bleak this year for cristmas sales and all because someone in the Govt,the BBC and 3rd party Vendors cant even think to time HD digital DVB-T2 availability far better

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@JasonW

Half right.

I'd call the guys that do the final switchovers technicians, but we've got the Engineers who designed the antenna systems (currently Caldbeck, Emley Moor, Black Hill and several others) up the masts doing installation checking and tuning.

All of the sites have to be completed in a certain order so that all regions get continuous coverage.

Meanwhile, us Structural Engineers have to make sure that the masts can take the new antennas without collapsing in a heap under the load.

It's a big job and there's only a handful of companies doing the work so it can't be done overnight.

@Simon Hobson

Emley Moor has recently been giving me major headaches with the new antennas. There's some great history of the site at http://tx.mb21.co.uk/emley/index.php

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Grenade

its off before 6am here in south manchester.

"Granada region requires 70 relay transmitters, most of which will turn off the analog signal at 6am."

wel it sems they already tuned it off ,at least before 1.45am, BBC 1 is also off at this time, along with poorer DVB, but that is most likely a side effect of switching out and replacing some new gear i assume.

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It was 12.25am

From the main winter hill transmitter anyway. Was watching ye olde analogue to see it die.

Transmissions are now at 5* the power they were, and should be receivable in areas previously unable to get it, and with a loop aerial etc.

Of course today I lost the remote to my Humax so can't retune it... typical..

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