Switchover Information for Torbay, Devon
We’re taking random areas of the UK to see what the options are like for TV after the digital tv switchover, both the channel availability for Freeview and the availability of Sky, Virgin Media and BT digital TV packages.
The borough of Torbay in Devon – known as the English Riviera – is in the South West TV region, and is served by the Beacon Hill transmitter and it’s relays – scheduled to switch to digital in two stages, 8th April 2009 and 22nd April 2009. On the 8th April BBC2 will go digital and some extra channels will become available – if you haven’t switched to digital you will no longer receive BBC2 and you’ll need to retune your equipment to pick up the available channels, more details below. On the 22nd April all of the remaining channels will go digital and the rest of the extra channels will appear – again you’ll need to retune your equipment.
Our three random postcodes in Torbay are TQ1 4RD in Torquay, TQ3 3YE in Blagdon and TQ5 9JU in Brixham, and when we tried these in the Digital UK postcode checker we found almost the same result for each – the methods of reception for a one off payment are Freeview, Freesat and Freesat from Sky and available subscription services are BT Vision and Sky, with the addition of Top Up TV in TQ3 3YE and TQ5 9JU. The difference between the Torquay postcode and the other two is the transmitter predicted by Digital UK – Blagdon and Brixham are quoted as using Beacon Hill and the Torquay postcode as using the Hele relay of Beacon Hill, which gives less Freeview channels too (see below). Beacon Hill transmitter will cover an estimated 84,000 households after switchover with it’s 23 different relays (including Hele, estimated to broadcast to 1400 households). These are the results we got using the BT, Virgin Media and Sky postcode checkers.
In the BT postcode checker the message was similar for all three of our test postcodes but with slightly varying speeds quoted. For TQ1 4RD we got;
“Your exchange is ADSL enabled, and our initial check on your postcode indicates that your line should be able to have an ADSL broadband service that provides a fixed line rate up to 2Mbps. Our check also indicates that your line currently supports a potential ADSL Max broadband line rate of 6Mbps or greater. Your exchange is planned to have ADSL2+ by 31st March 2010. Our check also indicates that your line currently supports a potential ADSL2+ broadband line rate of 8Mbps or greater. The actual stable ADSL line rate supportable will be determined during the first 10 days of use. This rate may change over time, to ensure line stability is maintained. If you decide to place an order, a further www will be performed to confirm if your line is suitable for the service you wish to purchase.”
What does this mean? BT broadband is available to you and should be fast enough to be able to use BT Vision – you need a broadband speed that averages at least 2Mbps to use BT Vision. It’s advisable to check your own postcode to get your particular line speed.
For TQ3 3YE the message was;
“Your exchange is ADSL enabled, and our initial check on your postcode indicates that your line should be able to have an ADSL broadband service that provides a fixed line rate up to 1Mbps. However due to the length of your line the 1Mbps service may require an engineer visit who will, where possible, supply the broadband service. Our check also indicates that your line currently supports a potential ADSL Max broadband line rate of 3Mbps or greater. Our check also indicates that your line currently supports a potential ADSL2+ broadband line rate of 3.5Mbps or greater.”
What does this mean? BT broadband is available to you but may not be fast enough to attain the average 2 Mbps speed required for BT Vision, again it’s advisable to check your own postcode to get your own particular line speed.
The postcode TQ5 9JU was a similar result with speeds of 2 Mbps and 6.5 Mbps.
What does this mean? BT broadband is available to you and should be fast enough to be able to use BT Vision.
The general rule with cable services like Virgin is you are likely to be able to get it in built-up areas and less likely in rural areas, so with Virgin Media more than any other service we recommend checking your own postcode here – it can vary from street to street.
All three of our postcodes came up with the same message – “Your home is not in a Virgin Media cable area so you can’t get our fibre-optic cable services, but you can get our National services. National services up to 16Mb! Our National broadband and phone services are available to all. Unlike our cable services, they’re delivered down your phone line – in just the same way other companies offer it.”
What does this mean? As mentioned above, Virgin Media availability can vary from one street to the next, but in these three cases it means you can get Virgin Media broadband down your phone line but no cable TV services – they offer a Freeview box for £40 but this is not connected to the broadband (the way it would be with BT Vision), it’s just a Freeview box like any other you would get from a shop.
For TQ1 4RD in Torquay and TQ3 3YE in Blagdon we got “Great news, Sky Broadband is currently available in your area. Based on the postcode you have entered there is a good indication you are in a Sky Broadband network area, where Sky Broadband Base, Mid, and Max are currently available. In order to join Sky Broadband you will need an active BT compatible phone line.”
What does this mean? All of the Sky TV packages offered by Sky are available to you.
For TQ5 9JU in Brixham we got “Sky Broadband Connect is available. Based on the postcode you have entered, there is a good indication that Sky Broadband Connect is available in your area. Fast download speeds of up to 8Mb and a massive monthly usage allowance of 40GB can be yours now with Sky Broadband Connect. Please note: broadband speeds vary with location and line quality. In order to join Sky Broadband you will need an active BT compatible phone line.”
What does this mean? It means you can’t get the regular Sky broadband services as your exchange hasn’t been updated yet, but you can receive the 8MB Connect service – this doesn’t affect your ability to get Sky TV in the usual way using a Sky TV box and Sky dish, so you can get new services like 3D TV. You need either a BT or Sky phone line – Sky will install a phone line free of charge and then £10 per month is charged. You can still take out any of the broadband TV packages but only with the Connect broadband rather than Base, Mid or Max.
Torbay is in the South West TV region, where it is estimated by the government body Digital UK that 96% of households will be able to get 17 channels after switchover and 74% will be able to pick up more channels than that from the 47 TV channels (plus text and radio services) that will be available.
Freeview Channel Availability
Our three postcodes varied on Freeview results in the amount of channels available and reception quality after Stage 1 (8th April) and Stage 2 (22nd April) of switchover. TQ1 4RD will have good reception at both stages, with up to 8 channels available after Stage 1 (that’s just the BBC channels) and up to 18 channels plus radio and text services after Stage 2. A retune of equipment will be required – more information on that here. Here are the 18 channels;
Free Channels Available TQ1 4RD
- Channel 4
- Channel 5
- Channel 4 +1
- Community Channel
- BBC News
- BBC Parliament
TQ3 3YE (surprisingly as it’s the most rural) and TQ5 9JU came out slightly better for channels after the switchover – both will have up to 47 TV channels with good reception after Stage 2, although the Brixham postcode will have ‘variable’ reception after Stage 1 and an aerial upgrade may be required – see Digital Aerials page. Here is the list of the channels;
Free Channels Available (Retune Required After Switchover)
- E4, E4+1
- Smile TV
- Smile TV2
- Community Channel
- Teachers TV
- BBC News
- BBC Parliament
- Sky News
- Sky Sports News
- UKTV History
- 4 Music
- Virgin 1
- Ideal World
- Gems TV
- Lottery Xtra
Subscription Channels Available
- UK Style
- Top Up TV
Please note that our switchover pages refer to the switchover dates and channel information at the time of writing, which is generally pre-switchover, and for most areas circumstances will have since changed.
- Caradon Hill Switchover
- Carlisle Switchover
- Carmarthenshire Switchover
- Cornwall Redruth Switchover
- Dumfries and Galloway Switchover
- Exeter Switchover
- Lincolnshire Switchover
- North Devon Switchover
- Preseli Switchover
- Sedgemoor Switchover
- Sheffield Switchover
- South Gloucestershire Switchover
- South Somerset Switchover
- Southwark Switchover
- Stoke Switchover
- Stroud Switchover
- Swansea Switchover
- Torbay Switchover
- Wenvoe Switchover
- Wyre Digital Switchover
Digital TV Packages
- Sky+ HD Starter
- Sky+ HD with Sky Movies
- Sky+ HD with Sky World
- Sky+ HD with Sky Sports
- Virgin TV L + Phone M
- Virgin Media TiVo Starter Bundle
- Premiere Collection
- Top Up TV Favourites
- Top Up TV Complete Sports Pack
- BT Vision Gold Pack
- TV Essential + Broadband and Anytime Calls
- TV Unlimited + Broadband + Anytime Calls
Sky TV Starter Deal
Only £21.50 a month
Sky+ TV, broadband and calls £21.50 a month. Free Sky+ Box and set-up, up to 2GB broadband usage and included evening and weekend calls.
Virgin Classic Collection
£18 a month
Over 55 TV channels with 5 in HD, TiVo, On Demand & Catch-Up, 30Mb Broadband plus Phone with unlimited weekend calls! £18 a month plus line rental.
BT Vision Starter Deal
£17 a month
£25 Sainsburys Gift Card > Free Vision+ Box > 16Mb Broadband – 10GB usage > Freeview, Catch-Up & Pay per View > Anytime calls > Online only offer
Top Up TV Favourites
£11.99 a month
Library of popular TV – over 700 shows to choose from each month including Life on Mars, Little Britain, Lost and many more. Box from £39.99 – £20 set-up.