The purpose of this column is primarily to discuss computer and Internet related articles but I do like to stray away from my core focus from time to time to talk about another area of technology that I believe could be of interest.

Some of you may know that sooner or later the government wants to scrap analogue TV transmissions so that everybody will be required to have their TV’s ‘digitally enabled’ to continue to receive the standard channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4) as well as gain access to the free digital channels that are on offer. This would involve either subscribing to Sky, buying a freeview box, a digitally enabled TV or signing up with an alternative digital cable supplier.

I won’t dwell too much on the technical differences between the two but to briefly explain, a terrestrial TV signal is carried on an analogue waveform and a digital TV signal is broadcast as a series of 0’s and 1’s which as many of you is known as binary and is the same system used in a computer. As such a digital TV signal can be of a better quality and can take up less capacity in the airwaves allowing more channels to be broadcast simultaneously.

The date for the switch off seems to vary from between 2007 and 2012 depending on the reports that you read but personally I believe the sooner the better as this would encourage people to make the jump to the newer, better standard. I find it remarkable that there are still users out there watching their four channels in low quality analogue transmission when for around fifty quid you can go out and get a freeview box which will give you all the new free to air digital channels without any kind of monthly subscription.

By far the best provider in my opinion is Sky due to the wide range of channels, easy to use navigation options and the additional features available such as Sky+ although unfortunately Sky is also the most expensive package available and for this reason I will leave it to one side for the purpose of this article. I have already mentioned freeview which gives you the basic range of around 30 channels without a subscription and this will be ideal for most users as you pay a one off £50 or so for the box and then you don’t have any ongoing subscription charges.

As large amounts of Torbay are Telewest enabled, those in covered areas may be interested to know that they can get digital TV with their phone service for a very small surcharge or if you are a new customer there are even several offers to give it to you free for a year. The basic package includes several additional channels such as Sky One to supplement the standard 30 free digital channels that freeview offer at a cost of just £3.50 a month on top of your normal phone bill. Considering the average person in the UK must watch at least an hour of TV a day I think that most Telewest customers should be able to stretch to an extra 90p a week on top of their standard phone bill to get hold of these additional channels. You don’t have to pay for the Telewest receiving box to connect to your TV but existing customers are unfortunately forced to pay £25 for the engineer visit whereas new customers get the visit for free.

I urge you to take a look this afternoon at how you too can make the jump to digital TV by visiting, or As I’ve demonstrated it doesn’t necessarily have to cost a lot as a small investment of around £50 today for a freeview box could set you up for years to come with nothing more to pay. Freeview boxes are available from all major electronics stores, catalogue stores such as Argos and of course on the Internet.

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