Ofcom has announced the decision to invite applications for an extra HD slot on Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT). This will mean that viewers may be able to watch more HD channels through their existing aerial.
This is good news for Freeview consumers, 1.8 million of whom have purchased HD devices since the launch of Freeview HD in May 2010.
It could mean that a new channel will be able to be added to existing HD services such as those offered by the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.
Half of the homes in the UK are currently HD enabled and this figure is expected to rise when the digital switchover is complete in 2012.
Ofcom says that it “has been possible to create the extra capacity needed for HDD on DTT by reorganising existing TV services and introducing two new technologies – MPEG-4 and DVB-T2.”
Prior to this, there was not enough bandwidth for a new HD channel as the technology is spectrum-hungry.
“Freeview HD is being rolled out in line with the existing digital switchover schedule and will eventually be available to 98.5% of UK households by the end of 2012,” the regulator said.
It is thought that the new channel will be ready to launch by April 1st 2012.
Applicants will be chosen according to a “number of key criteria” and will be judged on how the new channel will enhance “the range and diversity of high quality television services available on DTT.”
The closing date for applications is October 17th.
At the moment consumers in the UK can receive HD broadcasts in Manchester, London, Newcastle, Birmingham, Liverpool and most of Wales.