The BBC and Arqiva have announced that the agreement to upgrade the relevant parts of the UK digital terrestrial television (DTT) transmission network to DVB-T2 has been confirmed.
The new DVB-T2 technology will deliver an increase in capacity of 67% to the BBC's Multiplex B, efficiently creating the space needed for UK public service broadcasters' HD transmissions.
The BBC and Arqiva will be the first organisations in the world to deploy the DVB-T2 technology into full operational service across an entire transmission network.
The upgrade programme, which runs alongside the BBC's main digital television transmission agreement, will start by launching Freeview HD services in the North West of England from December this year.
From then on, the new technology will roll-out with digital switchover at each transmitter, with most areas which have switched over already being upgraded before the end of 2010.
In addition, the BBC has made arrangements with Arqiva to build a small network of five additional transmitters which will bring HD services to certain key metropolitan areas ahead of their planned switchover dates.
London will benefit from the end of 2009, with transmitters for Glasgow, Newcastle, Birmingham and Leeds/Bradford due to be on-air during spring 2010.
Speaking about these developments, Alix Pryde, Controller of BBC Distribution, said: "The BBC's agreements with Arqiva to build the High Definition infrastructure for DTT represent an important step forward that sets us on course for a successful launch in December this year. We look forward to confirming later this autumn our plans with Freeview for the consumer launch of HD services."
Matthew Postgate, Controller Research & Development BBC, said: "The BBC has a long and distinguished history in developing technologies for the benefit of the wider media industry and consumer, and the work of our R&D team is as important in the digital age as it ever has been. The pioneering work of the team in creating the standard, in partnership with DVB, has been instrumental in bringing HD to terrestrial TV and will allow Freeview to build on its phenomenal success."
Steve Holebrook, managing director of terrestrial broadcast for Arqiva, the transmission company who will build the network, said: "This is a fantastic development for Freeview and we're delighted to be working with the BBC to bring this new technology to market as quickly as possible. Once again, we in the UK are leading the world in television technology and this should stimulate the DVB-T2 market throughout Europe."
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