Switchover Information for South West Wales
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 digital TV packages.
Preseli Transmitter Pembrokeshire
The Preseli transmitter switches to digital in two stages on 19th August and 16th September 2009. It’s estimated by Digital UK that 63% of households in the Wales TV region can receive digital TV through an aerial pre-switchover, and this is predicted to rise to 98% able to receive around 17 channels after switchover and 73% able to receive more than that. The Preseli transmitter has 27 relays and covers around 57,000 households.
Our three random postcodes in the area are SA61 2BB in Haverfordwest or Hwlffordd, SA43 1BG in Cardigan or Aberteifi and SA65 9AX in Fishguard or Abergwaun, 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 except for Fishguard where Top Up TV is not available. The difference between the Fishguard postcode and the other two is the transmitter predicted by Digital UK – Haverfordwest and Cardigan are quoted as using Preseli and the Fishguard postcode as using the Fishguard relay of Preseli. 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.
For SA61 2BB 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 5.5Mbps 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.
The postcodes SA43 1BG and SA65 9AX returned the same result with potential ADSL Max broadband line rates of 6.5 Mbps and 6 Mbps respectively.
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.
All 3 postcodes 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 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.
We got the same result for all 3 postcodes from Sky too;
“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 (19th August) and Stage 2 (16th September) of switchover. Haverfordwest and Cardigan will have good reception at both stages, with 47 channels available now and after switchover, and a retune required at both stages in Cardigan but only on August 19th for Haverfordwest. Here are the 47 channels that will be available;
Free Channels Available
- 4 Music
- Dave ja vu
- Virgin 1 *
- E4, E4+1
- Ideal World
- Gems TV
- Lottery Xtra
- Community Channel
- Teachers TV
- BBC News
- BBC Parliament
- Sky News
- Sky Sports News
- Russia Today
Subscription Channels Available
- Top Up TV Anytime 1,2,3 & 4
The outlook isn’t as good for Fishguard where, according to Digital UK, there are no channels available on Freeview until the first stage of switchover on August 19th when there will be 8 at variable reception (BBC1, 2, 3 and 4, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC News and BBC Parliament) and then up to 20 at good reception after September 16th. Here are the 20 channels that will be available in Fishguard;
- Community Channel
- BBC News
- BBC Parliament
- 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+ HD Starter
- Sky+ HD with Sky Movies
- Sky+ HD with Sky World
- Sky+ HD with Sky Sports
- Virgin TV L + Phone M
- Virgin Media TiVo Starter Bundle
- Premiere Collection
- Top Up TV Favourites
- Top Up TV Complete Sports Pack
- BT Vision Gold Pack
- TV Essential + Broadband and Anytime Calls
- TV Unlimited + Broadband + Anytime Calls
Sky TV Starter Deal
Only £20 a month
Sky+ TV, broadband and calls £20 a month. Free Sky+ Box and set-up, up to 2GB broadband usage and included evening and weekend calls.
Virgin Value Bundle
£20 a month
This bundle has size ‘M+’ TV, that’s 65 channels, TiVo, On Demand & Catch-Up, 10Mb Broadband plus Phone with unlimited weekend calls! £20 a month plus line rental.
BT Vision Starter Deal
£17 a month
£25 Sainsburys Gift Card > Free Vision+ Box > 16Mb Broadband – 10GB usage > Freeview, Catch-Up & Pay per View > Anytime calls > Online only offer
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.