What is Freeview?
Freeview is a service which provides free-to-air digital TV channels, radio stations and interactive services through an aerial. It was established as a joint venture by the BBC, BSkyB, Channel 4, ITV and Arqiva in October 2002.
Those of us who have either bought a digital Freeview box, a Freeview+ digital TV recorder or digital TV with built-in Freeview may well have been receiving Freeview channels through an aerial from as far back as 2002.
Freeview should not be confused with Freesat, the free (no subscription) digital TV satellite service which offers over 140 digital TV and radio channels; launched on 6th May 2008 as a joint venture between the BBC and ITV.
The arrival of Freeview HD
A number of us have been happily watching Standard Definition channels on the Freeview platform for some time without giving it a second thought. With the arrival of High Definition channels via the Freeview platform however, with the promise of far superior picture, many of us have begun to sit up and take notice.
Remember that you will need a HD Ready TV to receive High Definition (HD) programmes. If you would like to find out more about the benefits of HDTV (High Definition TV) you might like to read our HDTV Guide.
Anyone wishing to take advantage of the new service will need to buy a Freeview HD-compatible set top box (STB) to sit alongside their HD ready TV, or a Freeview HD TV with a new DVB-T2 tuner that can deal with the high definition transmissions.
Of course, we have all had access to High Definition channels for some time via Sky's satellite service, Virgin Media cable and through the Freesat service. For the first two however, you need to take out a monthly subscription and although Freesat is free, you need to purchase a Freesat enabled TV or separate box and install a satellite. Yes, you need to buy a Freeview HD enabled TV or digital box, but that's it.
Is Freeview HD available now?
Freeview HD services are currently being rolled out across the UK as part of a process that will be completed in 2012. At this point in time it is essential that you check for coverage in your area as Freeview HD is available only in certain parts of the UK.
What channels are available through Freeview HD?
At the moment you can watch the BBC's Preview HD channels, ITV HD, CH4 HD and S4C HD in Wales. Another HD channel slot will become available in 2012 although it is not clear at this moment what it will host.
How do I get started?
The next section in our guide to Freeview HD gives you a checklist of the steps required to start enjoying this exciting new service ...