Ofcom has confirmed that HD broadcasts will be available on Freeview from 2009, but only in areas where analogue signals have been switched off.
This means that viewers in the North West of England will be the first to benefit from the new service, as long as they have a HD-capable set-top-box.
The digital switchover should be completed by 2012, bringing high-definition programming to Freeview viewers across the UK.
In an official statement, Ofcom said: “Viewers across the UK will have the opportunity to access more television channels, including programmes broadcast in high-definition (HD), as a result of a major technology upgrade of digital terrestrial television (DTT) to be facilitated by Ofcom.”
Four technological advances have freed up capacity to allow for new services on Digital Terrestrial Television: the digital television switchover; efficiency improvements implemented by broadcasters; a more-efficient compression standard called MPEG-4; and a new transmission standard called DVB-T2.
HD channels are already available via satellite and cable, but Ofcom’s announcement means that HD will be freely available through ordinary aerials, for everyone to enjoy.