Exeter Switchover

Switchover Information for Exeter, Devon

Exeter SwitchoverWe’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 digital TV packages.


The city of Exeter in Devon is in the South West TV region, and is served by the Stockland Hill transmitter and its 24 relays which will go digital in two stages on 6th May and 20th May 2009 and is predicted to cover around 120,000 households, including the Exeter City Council area. Stage 1 of the switchover will involve BBC2 going digital-only, in other words BBC2 on analogue will be switched off – at the same time the first batch of new Freeview channels will be made available. In Stage 2 on May 20th all remaining analogue channels will be switched off and the rest of the new digital channels will appear, although on both dates you will need to retune your Freeview, BT Vision or Top Up TV equipment.

Our three random postcodes in Exeter are EX4 2HQ in Whitestone, EX1 3DW in central Exeter and EX5 2TA in Whimple, and when we tried these in the Digital UK postcode checker we found almost the same result for each – the methods of reception for a one off payment are Freeview, Freesat and Freesat from Sky and available subscription services are BT Vision and Sky, with the addition of Top Up TV in EX4 2HQ and EX5 2TA and Virgin Media cable TV in EX1 3DW. These are the results we got using the Virgin Media, BT and Sky postcode checkers.

Virgin Media

Virgin Postcode Checker

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.

EX1 3DW in Exeter returned the following 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 services – broadband, phone and cable TV are available to you.

EX4 2HQ in Whitestone and EX5 2TA in Whimple came up with the same message – “Your home is not in a Virgin Media cable area so you can’t get our fibre-optic cable services, but you can get our National services. National services up to 16Mb! Our National broadband and phone services are available to all. Unlike our cable services, they’re delivered down your phone line – in just the same way other companies offer it.”
What does this mean? As mentioned above, Virgin Media availability can vary from one street to the next, but in these two 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.


BT Postcode Checker

In the BT postcode checker the message was similar for all three of our test postcodes but with slightly varying speeds quoted.
For EX4 2HQ we got;

“Exchange – LONGDOWN. We’ve just wwwed your line and can confirm your line supports the UK’s most complete broadband package, BT Total Broadband. We estimate your maximum download speed to be 4.5 Mbps (Megabits per second).”
For EX1 3DW we got;

“Exchange – EXETER. We’ve just wwwed your line and can confirm your line supports the UK’s most complete broadband package, BT Total Broadband. We estimate your maximum download speed to be 4.5 Mbps (Megabits per second).”
For EX5 2TA we got;

“Exchange – WHIMPLE. We’ve just wwwed your line and can confirm your line supports the UK’s most complete broadband package, BT Total Broadband. We estimate your maximum download speed to be 6.0 Mbps (Megabits per second).”
What does this mean? BT broadband is available to all of these postcodes and will be fast enough to be able to deliver BT Vision – you need a broadband speed that averages at least 2Mbps for this. It’s advisable to check your own postcode to get your particular line speed, but if you are already a BT broadband customer or are considering BT TV packages then BT Vision would be a very good choice for digital TV.


Sky Postcode Checker

For EX1 3DW in Exeter we got “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 EX4 2HQ in Whitestone and EX5 2TA in Whimple we got “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 deals 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.


Exeter is in the West Country TV region, where it is estimated by the government body Digital UK that 96% of households will be able to get 17 channels after switchover and 74% will be able to pick up more channels than that from the 47 TV channels (plus text and radio services) that will be available.

Freeview Channel Availability

Our three postcodes varied on Freeview results in the amount of channels available and reception quality after Stage 2 of switchover on 20th May. EX1 3DW will have up to 18 channels plus radio and text services available after Stage 2. A retune of equipment will be required – more information on that here. Here are the 18 channels;

Free Channels Available EX1 3DW

  • BBC1
  • BBC2
  • BBC3
  • BBC4
  • ITV1
  • Channel 4
  • Channel 5
  • ITV2
  • ITV3
  • Channel 4 +1
  • More4
  • ITV4
  • E4
  • CBeebies
  • CBBC
  • Community Channel
  • BBC News
  • BBC Parliament

EX4 2HQ (surprisingly as it’s the most rural) and EX5 2TA came out slightly better for channels after the switchover – both will have up to 46 TV channels with good reception after Stage 2, although according to Digital UK the Whitestone postcode will have ‘good’ reception after Stage 1 but ‘variable’ reception on 13 of them after ‘final step’ in 2012, which suggests reception will get worse between May 2009 and 2012! We wonder if this may be a bug in their system?. Here is the list of the channels;

Free Channels Available (Retune Required After Switchover)

  • BBC1
  • BBC2
  • ITV1
  • 4
  • Five
  • ITV2
  • BBC3
  • BBC4
  • ITV3
  • Sky3
  • 4+1
  • More4
  • Dave
  • ITV4
  • E4, E4+1
  • Fiver
  • Smile TV
  • Smile TV2
  • CBBC
  • CBeebies
  • CITV
  • QVC
  • BidTV
  • Community Channel
  • Teachers TV
  • BBC News
  • BBC Parliament
  • Sky News
  • Sky Sports News
  • UKTV History
  • 4 Music
  • Virgin 1
  • TMF
  • ITV2+1
  • Film4
  • Ideal World
  • Gems TV
  • Lottery Xtra

Subscription Channels Available

  • UKTV Style
  • Top Up TV Anytime 1
  • Top Up TV Anytime 2
  • Top Up TV Anytime 3
  • TVX/Red Hot (Adult)

The 13 channels which show as ‘good reception’ after stage 2 and ‘variable’ after 2012 are Fiver, Smile TV 2, UKTV Style, Setanta Sports, TopUpTV Anytime 1, 2 and 3, CITV, QVC, Bid TV, Gems TV, Teachers TV and adult channel TVX/Red Hot – there is no obvious explanation for this on the Digital UK site. EX5 2TA in Whimple brought back the same result except all 46 channels show as good reception, and ‘final step’ is shown as stage 2 date 20th May rather than 2012.

Please note that our switchover pages refer to the switchover dates and channel information at the time of writing, which is generally pre-switchover, and for most areas circumstances will have since changed.

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