Freesat may have only recently launched in the UK, but the BBC has already begun testing the transmission of HD services over Freeview.
The broadcaster has started transmissions from a Guildford-based transmitter using the second-generation DVB-T specification DVB-T2. The trial could clear the way for the introduction of HD onto Freeview by December next year.
DVB-T2 is said to offer 30 per cent more data-carrying capacity as DVB-T under the same conditions.
Justin Mitchell, leader of the DVB-T2 modem development team at the BBC, said: “This is a big step forward in enabling the introduction of full HD terrestrial on Freeview by the end of 2009.”
The BBC added that the trial follows approval by the DVB Project – an industry-led consortium focused on designing open technical standards for digital TV delivery – of the DVB-T2 specification.
Freeview currently uses the ten-year old DVB-T standard. DVB-T2 was developed for "use in a post-Analogue Switch-Off environment". UK communications regulator Ofcom has said it wants to convert at least one of the nation's DVB-T multiplexes to DVB-T2 by the end of 2009.
A few years ago, the BBC ran a closed trial of DVB-T based HD content over Freeview. Bandwidth limitations and compatibility issues prevented a full-scale roll-out. In the end, the BBC HD channel ended up on Sky, Virgin and now Freesat.
More information about the current state of HD TV in the UK can be found in Register Hardware’s latest special feature here.