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Status of UK Switch Over to Digital Television

Communication Technology reports that the switch to digital TV is already on in the United Kingdom. The transition will result in clearer pictures for consumers and free up more spectrum for wireless services, among other advantages.

In the UK, the schedule for switching customers from analog signals has already been set. Customers in roughly 25,000 homes in Cumbria, England, will be the first to have an analog signal shut off on October 17, with other channels to follow on November 14. All UK customers will need to make the transition to digital signals by 2012, but the migration has started.

In a report issued last week, UK regulatory agency Ofcom found that the three months ending with December 2006 saw more than 1 million net household conversions to digital TV in the UK after 800,000 additions in the previous quarter. Growth was driven by another strong quarter for digital terrestrial TV (DTT), with total sales of DTT equipment reaching 2.4 million.

The digital cable and satellite platforms added more than 300,000 households among them during the quarter, which means that 77 percent of the households now receive digital TV services on their primary set, up 3.9 percent the previous quarter.

The number of BSkyB UK subscribers rose by 158,980 and approached 8.0 million by the end of the fourth quarter. When free-to-view satellite viewers are included, the total number of satellite homes was almost 8.8 million.

The number of net cable subscribers increased by 38,500 during the quarter with total subscribers of more than 3.3 million. Digital cable subscribers increased by almost 84,000 and now account for more than 3.0 million, or almost 90 percent, of all cable.

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