North Devon Switchover

Digital Switchover Information – North Devon

North Devon 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.

North Devon

The Huntshaw Cross transmitter in the West Country TV region will switch to digital in two stages on July 1st and July 29th 2009. The transmitter has 14 relays and covers around 37,000 homes, and Digital UK predict that in the West Country region 96% of homes will be able to receive the basic 17 or 18 channels after switchover and 74% will get more channels on top of that. Currently only 63% of households in the area can receive digital TV through an aerial, so switchover will bring a big improvement.

We’ve taken three random postcodes in the area, EX31 4AB in Barnstaple, EX39 3PJ in Bideford and EX20 3QW in Hatherleigh. These are the results we got using the BT, Virgin Media and Sky postcode checkers.

BT

BT Postcode Checker

In the BT postcode checker the message was similar for all three of our test postcodes – a good result showing decent broadband speeds. Barnstaple came out best with this message;

“For Postcode EX31 4AB – 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. Your exchange is planned to have ADSL2+ by 31st January 2010. Our check also indicates that your line currently supports a potential ADSL2+ broadband line rate of 9Mbps or greater.
The actual stable line rate supportable will be determined during the first 10 days of use. This rate may change over time, to ensure line stability is maintained.”
The message for Bideford and Hatherleigh was the same but without mention of the improved ADSL2+. The speeds given were similar at 2Mbps and a potential ADSL Max broadband line rate of 6.5Mbps or greater.
What does this mean? BT broadband is available to 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 then BT Vision would be a very good choice for digital TV in this area.

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.

However, all of our test postcodes 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 not Virgin TV packages – 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.

Sky

Sky Postcode Checker

The message for all 3 postcodes was the same; “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, meaning you can still get new services like 3D TV packages. 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

Freeview Channel Availability

EX31 4AB in Barnstaple

The pre-switchover forecast for channel reception is nothing, rising to 8 TV channels available during the switch (after 24th June) at variable reception and finally up to 18 TV channels plus radio and text services after July 2009 with good reception. A retune of equipment will be required during switchover – more information on that here.

The 8 channels available between June 24th and July 22nd are;

  • BBC1
  • BBC2
  • BBC3
  • BBC4
  • CBBC
  • CBeebies
  • BBC News
  • BBC Parliament

Which are then joined when switchover is complete by the following channels;

  • ITV1
  • 4
  • Five
  • ITV2
  • ITV3
  • 4+1
  • More4
  • ITV4
  • E4
  • Community Channel

EX39 3PJ in Bideford and EX20 3QW in Hatherleigh

Both pre and post switchover this area has good reception on 53 channels, both free and subscription-based.

Free Channels Available

  • BBC1
  • BBC2
  • ITV1
  • 4
  • Five
  • ITV2
  • BBC3
  • BBC4
  • ITV3
  • Sky3
  • 4+1
  • More4
  • 4 Music
  • Dave
  • Virgin 1
  • TMF
  • ITV2+1
  • ITV4
  • E4, E4+1
  • Film4
  • Five USA
  • Fiver
  • Smile TV
  • Smile TV2
  • Quest
  • TopUp Anytime 4
  • CBBC
  • CBeebies
  • CITV
  • QVC
  • Ideal World
  • BidTV
  • Gems TV
  • Lottery Xtra
  • Community Channel
  • Teachers TV
  • Netplay TV
  • Super Casino
  • 121 Dating
  • BBC News
  • BBC Parliament
  • Sky News
  • CNN
  • Sky Sports News
  • Russia Today

Subscription Channels Available

  • Top Up TV Anytime 1,2,3 & 4
  • UK Style
  • Television X (Adult)

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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