Freeview digital -years away for Suffolk

YOU'VE seen the ads for digital television on the BBC – but viewers in much of Suffolk are still unlikely to be able to receive Freeview digital services through their aerials for many years.

YOU'VE seen the ads for digital television on the BBC – but viewers in much of Suffolk are still unlikely to be able to receive Freeview digital services through their aerials for many years.

In fact much of the county is unlikely to get terrestrial digital signals until the existing analogue signal – which carries the main five channels – is switched off.

There are not enough frequencies available at present to carry digital signals to communities near the Suffolk coast.

If the power on the existing digital signals from transmitters at Sudbury and Talconeston in south Norfolk was turned up, there is a danger that they would interfere with broadcasts in Belgium and Holland.

The Digital Television Group (DTG) is a body which represents all sections of the industry – from the BBC to manufacturers to viewers' groups.

That is preparing the way for the big switch-off – when the existing signals are due to be replaced by digital only – expected to happen sometime between 2007 and 2012.

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The DTG's director of public affairs, Richard Lindsay-Davies, said: "Much of the country is now covered by digital broadcasting, and it is unlikely that significantly more will be covered before the analogue signals are switched off.

"The timing of that is a matter for the government, and it does depend on the number of households that have access to digital television signals.

"But we accept that it is a bit of a chicken and egg situation – you aren't going to get people to buy digital decoders if you can't get digital signals in your area."

The nearer the coast you live the less likely you are to get a digital signal – although many homes can receive some channels but not others.

"It is patchy at present, but once the analogue frequencies are freed the coverage should be as good as it is with signals currently. Everyone should get all the channels," said Mr Lindsay-Davies.

In the meantime people can already receive digital channels through satellite – and in Ipswich and part of Felixstowe cable television is another option.

Weblink: www.dtg.org.uk – find out if your home can get a digital signal.

Do you think existing television services should be switched off to allow everyone to get digital transmissions? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk