South Gloucestershire Switchover

Switchover Information for South Gloucestershire

South Gloucestershire 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.

South Gloucestershire

South Gloucestershire is served mainly by the Mendip transmitter in the West TV region, and this transmitter switches to digital in 2 stages on 24th March 2010 and 7th April 2010. As a local focus we looked at genuine addresses and postcodes in Yate, Almondsbury and one in Thornbury and when we tried these in the Digital UK postcode checker we found the same result for Yate and Thornbury – the methods of reception for a one off payment are Freeview, Freesat and Freesat from Sky and available subscription services are Top Up TV, BT Vision, Sky and Virgin Media (a full house of all UK services). The Almondsbury www address had the same one-off payment options but only Top Up TV and BT Vision as available subscription services. Equipment will need to be retuned after each of the switchover dates above (and at certain points in 2011 and 2012) but in most cases this just involves following some on-screen instructions on your Freeview box or TV with built-in Freeview tuner – more information on that here.


The big difference between Yate/Almondsbury and Thornbury is in the amount of Freeview channels available. All three of our test postcodes receive a TV signal from the Mendip transmitter but availability for Freeview both before and after switchover is quite different. The Thornbury address pre-switchover has no Freeview coverage at all, followed by 8 channels after stage 1 and 18 channels after stage 2, whereas the Yate and Almondsbury addresses fare a lot better, already having access to 63 Freeview channels and having 62 available from stage 1 of switchover onwards (strange to lose a channel – it’s the Community Channel that will no longer be available). Viewers in Yate and Almondsbury will need to retune equipment on the 2 switchover dates and also in 2011 and in 2012 in order to retain the channels they have. Viewers in Thornbury will need to retune on both switchover dates, then again in 2011 to retain existing services and then there’s an optional retune in 2012 if you want to get the full 62 channels.

Freeview TV is received through your regular TV aerial (in certain cases an upgrade will be required but generally not) and some kind of Freeview tuner – this could be a standalone box from around £15 upwards to a TV or hard disc recorder with a Freeview tuner (or two) built in. If you’re going to use Freeview on its own rather than in conjunction with Sky, Virgin or BT then you need to consider having two tuners or you won’t be able to record one programme and watch another.

After switchover the Thornbury postcode we checked will have the following Freeview channels available – eight at stage 1 and then a further ten at stage 2;

  • BBC1 (Stage 1)
  • BBC2 (Stage 1)
  • BBC3 (Stage 1)
  • BBC4 (Stage 1)
  • CBeebies (Stage 1)
  • CBBC (Stage 1)
  • BBC News (Stage 1)
  • BBC Parliament (Stage 1)
  • ITV1 (Stage 2)
  • 4 (Stage 2)
  • Five (Stage 2)
  • ITV2 (Stage 2)
  • More4 (Stage 2)
  • E4 (Stage 2)
  • ITV2+1 (Stage 2)
  • BBC HD (Stage 2)
  • ITV1 HD (Stage 2)
  • Rabbit (Adult) (Stage 2)

The Yate and Almondsbury postcodes we checked will have these channels in addition to the above, before and after switchover;

  • ITV3
  • Sky3
  • Dave
  • Dave Ja Vu
  • Virgin1
  • Virgin1+1
  • ESPN (Paid)
  • Viva
  • ITV4
  • E4+1
  • Film4
  • Five USA
  • Fiver
  • G.O.L.D
  • Yesterday
  • Quest
  • Big Deal
  • Create Craft
  • Price Drop TV
  • Rocks Co
  • Home (Paid)
  • Top Up TV Anytime 1 (Paid)
  • Top Up TV Anytime 2 (Paid)
  • Top Up TV Anytime 3 (Paid)
  • CITV
  • QVC
  • Ideal World
  • Bid TV
  • Teachers TV
  • Super Casino
  • 1-2-1 Dating
  • Sky News
  • CNN
  • Sky Sports News
  • Russia Today
  • TV News
  • Red Hot (Adult – Paid)
  • TMTV (Adukt)
  • Smile TV (Adult)
  • Partyland (Adult)

These are the results we got using the Sky, Virgin Media and BT postcode checkers.


Sky Postcode Checker

The message for all 3 of our 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 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. Normally Sky tv deals come with Broadband Everyday or Broadband Unlimited but here are only available with Broadband Connect.

Virgin Media

Virgin Postcode Checker

The addresses we tried in Yate and Thornbury have full Virgin Media access and 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.

The Almondsbury address got this message;
“You’re not in a fibre optic area, but can still get our brilliant broadband down your phone line. With Virgin Broadband you can get the faswww broadband we can deliver down your phone line, up to 20Mb. Then, you can simply add any extras you want, including home phone.”
What does this mean? You can get Virgin Media broadband down your phone line but no 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. Because Virgin Media relies on each street being cabled there are large variations in availability, so it’s always worth checking your own postcode by clicking on the logo above.


BT Postcode Checker

BT broadband is available for all of our test postcodes, the difference being the speed – for Yate 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 4.5Mbps or greater.
Our check also indicates that your line currently supports a potential ADSL2+ broadband line rate of 5Mbps or greater.
The actual stable ADSL 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.
If you decide to place an order, a further www will be performed to confirm if your line is suitable for the service you wish to purchase.”
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 so both of these postcodes should be fine but it’s advisable to check your own postcode to get your own particular line speed.

The result for the postcode in Almondsbury was the same but the fixed line rate was 2Mbps and ADSL rates 5Mbps and 6Mbps for ADSL2+ – still fast enough to support BT Vision

The Thornbury postcode had speeds of 2Mbps fixed line rate and 5Mbps for ADSL but no ADSL2+. This is the high speed connection that doubles the download speeds but is not necessary for using the BT Vision TV service.

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.

Sky TV Starter Deal
Only £20 a month

Sky+ TV, broadband and calls £20 a month. Free Sky+ Box and set-up, up to 2MB broadband and included evening and weekend calls.

Visit site »

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.

Visit site »

BT Vision Starter Deal
£18 a month

BT TV, Broadband and Calls

£4 a month first 4 months! > Free Vision+ Box > 20Mb Broadband – 10GB usage > Freeview, Catch-Up & Pay per View > Anytime calls > Online only offer

Visit site »

Top Up TV Favourites
£11.99 a month

Top Up TV TV Favourites

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.

Visit site »