Caradon Hill Switchover
Switchover Information for Devon and Cornwall
We’re taking random areas of the UK to see what the options are like for TV after the digital tv switchover, both the channel availability for Freeview and the availability of Sky, Virgin Media and BT Broadband/BT Vision services.
The Caradon Hill transmitter with its 28 relays covers around 180,000 homes in the West Country TV region and switched to digital in two stages on August 12th and September 30th 2009. Only 63% of households can currently receive digital TV through an aerial in the region but Digital UK reckon that 96% will be able to receive around 17 TV channels after switchover and 74% will have access to more channels on top of that.
Our three random postcodes in the area are PL4 7PT in Plymouth, PL15 9LA in Launceston and PL19 9AJ in Tavistock, and when we tried these in the Digital UK postcode checker for methods of reception we found them very similar. For a one off payment you have Freeview, Freesat and Freesat from Sky and available subscription services are Top Up TV, BT Vision and Sky, with the addition of Virgin TV packages in Plymouth. The difference between the Plymouth postcode and the other two is the transmitter predicted by Digital UK – Launceston and Tavistock are quoted as using Caradon Hill and the Plymouth postcode as using the Plympton relay of Caradon Hill. These are the results we got using the BT, Virgin Media and Sky postcode checkers.
In the BT postcode checker the message was similar for all three of our test postcodes but with slightly varying speeds quoted and an ADSL2+ speed given for Plymouth only.
For PL4 7PT we got;
“Your exchange is ADSL enabled, and our initial check on your postcode indicates that your line should be able to have an ADSL broadband service that provides a fixed line rate up to 2Mbps. Our check also indicates that your line currently supports a potential ADSL Max broadband line rate of 6Mbps or greater. Our check also indicates that your line currently supports a potential ADSL2+ broadband line rate of 8Mbps or greater.”
What does this mean? BT broadband is available to you and should be fast enough to be able to use BT Vision – you need a broadband speed that averages at least 2Mbps to use BT Vision. It’s advisable to check your own postcode to get your particular line speed.
For PL15 9LA the message was;
“Your exchange is ADSL enabled, and our initial check on your postcode indicates that your line should be able to have an ADSL broadband service that provides a fixed line rate up to 2Mbps. Our check also indicates that your line currently supports a potential ADSL Max broadband line rate of 6.5Mbps or greater.”
What does this mean? BT broadband is available to you but may not be fast enough to attain the average 2 Mbps speed required for BT Vision, again it’s advisable to check your own postcode to get your own particular line speed.
The postcode PL19 9AJ was a similar result with speeds of 2 Mbps and 6 Mbps.
What does this mean? BT broadband is available to you and should be fast enough to be able to use BT Vision.
The general rule with cable services like Virgin is you are likely to be able to get it in built-up areas and less likely in rural areas, so with Virgin Media more than any other service we recommend checking your own postcode here – it can vary from street to street.
PL15 9LA and PL19 9AJ returned the same message – “Because you’re in a fibre optic cable area, you can get all this.
- Up to 50Mb broadband
- Over 165 digital TV channels
- Great value home phone packages
So help yourself to fibre optic broadband, the very best digital TV, and phone services.”
What does this mean? All of the Virgin Media cable TV, broadband and phone services are available to you.
PL15 9LA and PL19 9AJ returned the same message – “Great news! We’ve checked your postcode, and we’ve got some fantastic Virgin Broadband and phone bundles for you. You’re not currently in a fibre optic cable area but Virgin National broadband still gives you fast broadband up to 16Mb down your phone line.”
What does this mean? As mentioned above, Virgin Media availability can vary from one street to the next, but in these three cases it means you can get Virgin Media broadband down your phone line but no cable TV services – they offer a Freeview box for £40 but this is not connected to the broadband (the way it would be with BT Vision), it’s just a Freeview box like any other you would get from a shop.
The results told a similar story for Sky – for the Plymouth postcode we got “Great news, Sky Broadband is currently available in your area. Based on the postcode you have entered there is a good indication you are in a Sky Broadband network area, where Sky Broadband Base, Mid, and Max are currently available. In order to join Sky Broadband you will need an active BT compatible phone line.”
What does this mean? All of the services offered by Sky are available to you.
For PL15 9LA in Launceston and PL19 9AJ in Tavistock we got “Sky Broadband Connect is available. Based on the postcode you have entered, there is a good indication that Sky Broadband Connect is available in your area. Fast download speeds of up to 8Mb and a massive monthly usage allowance of 40GB can be yours now with Sky Broadband Connect. Please note: broadband speeds vary with location and line quality. In order to join Sky Broadband you will need an active BT compatible phone line.”
What does this mean? It means you can’t get the regular Sky broadband services as your exchange hasn’t been updated yet, but you can receive the 8MB Connect service – this doesn’t affect your ability to get Sky TV in the usual way using a Sky TV box and Sky dish. You need either a BT or Sky phone line – Sky will install a phone line free of charge and then £10 per month is charged. You can still take out any of the broadband TV packages but only with the Connect broadband rather than Base, Mid or Max.
Freeview Channel Availability
Our three postcodes varied on Freeview results in the amount of channels available and reception quality after Stage 1 (12th August) and Stage 2 (30th September) of switchover. Plymouth will have good reception at both stages, with 48 channels available now and after switchover, as will Tavistock, although an aerial upgrade will be required at both stages for 15 of the channels here. The outlook isn’t as good for Launceston where, according to Digital UK, there are no channels available on Freeview until the first stage of switchover on August 12th when there will be 8 at good reception (BBC1, 2, 3 and 4, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC News and BBC Parliament) and then up to 48 after September 30th. There will be some transitional problems in 2012 in this area however when 30 of the 48 channels will revert to variable reception, and in fact Freeview reception is set to be variable on all channels after the final step in 2012. So the way it looks currently if you live in this area your best Freeview reception will be between September 2009 and 2012, after which it may be worth investing in an alternative service.
A retune of equipment will be required on both dates – more information on that here, and for information on aerial upgrades see our Digital Aerials page. Here are the 48 channels that will be available in all 3 areas after switchover is complete – the channels which may need an aerial upgrade in the Tavistock area are marked with an asterisk;
Free Channels Available
- Five *
- 4 Music
- Dave ja vu
- Virgin 1 *
- E4, E4+1
- Fiver *
- Quest *
- CITV *
- QVC *
- BidTV *
- Gems TV *
- Lottery Xtra
- Community Channel
- Teachers TV *
- Super Casino *
- 121 Dating *
- BBC News
- BBC Parliament
- Sky News
- CNN *
- Sky Sports News
- Russia Today
Subscription Channels Available
- TopUp Anytime 1 *,2 *,3 * & 4
- Caradon Hill Switchover
- Carlisle Switchover
- Carmarthenshire Switchover
- Cornwall Redruth Switchover
- Dumfries and Galloway Switchover
- Exeter Switchover
- Lincolnshire Switchover
- North Devon Switchover
- Preseli Switchover
- Sedgemoor Switchover
- Sheffield Switchover
- South Gloucestershire Switchover
- South Somerset Switchover
- Southwark Switchover
- Stoke Switchover
- Stroud Switchover
- Swansea Switchover
- Torbay Switchover
- Wenvoe Switchover
- Wyre Digital Switchover
Digital TV Packages
Sky TV Starter Deal
Only £19 a month
Sky+ TV, broadband and calls £19 a month. Sky+ Box costs £49 with £30 set-up, up to 2MB broadband and free evening and weekend calls.
Virgin Value Bundle
£19.25 a month
This great bundle has size ‘M+’ TV, that’s 65 channels, On Demand & Catch-Up, 10Mb Broadband plus Phone with unlimited weekend calls! £21.74 for the first 6 months.
BT Vision Starter Deal
£17.99 a month
£9.99 line rental > £60 one-off Vision+ Box fee > Broadband Option 2 with 40GB usage > Freeview channels with Pay per View options > 24 month contract
Top Up TV Favourites
£11.99 a month
Library of popular TV – over 700 shows to choose from each month including Life on Mars, Little Britain, Lost and many more. Top Up box from £39.99 – £20 set-up.