How to upgrade a Guest House
I received a post from Mr K Jones, who runs Kimberley Guest House which has a television in each of their 14 rooms. He was concerned that, being served by a transmitter that has not yet got Freeview, he will only get a month to changeover all of the television sets.
His is both concerned about the cost of dealing with all of the sets within one month (rather than say, four to five months) and also the technical challenge involved.
He is right to be concerned about this. Will he need a new aerial? Will he need to replace the televisions and the cabling?
If you intend to replace the televisions, then replacing these with integrated digital sets (called idTV) which have both analogue and digital tuners will allow you to change over the television in plenty of time before switchover occurs.
You may want to do this if the sets have reached the end of their useful lives, or if they do not have a SCART socket on each. When replacing a television, you should consider using LCD sets in the guest's rooms for two reasons: they use much less power (and will therefore reduce your electricity bill in the future) and they use much less space in the room as they can be easily unobtrusively wall mounted.
However, if the sets are in good working order and you wish to use them for digital television, then you will need to purchase a set-top box for each. These simply attach to each television with a SCART lead - but you will need to ensure that you have a second power outlet for them. As these boxes tend to be small and unobtrusive, and consequently as easy to remove from the room as a towel, you can physical attach the set-top box to the top of the television set using double-sided sticky pads.
As for the cabling - as long as it is in good order, there should be no requirement to replace it. If the picture quality is currently poor (as it was in a hotel room I was in recently) then you may wish to get an engineer to test and replace the sections that have become damaged.
If you are prepared to wait until analogue shutdown happens, then (in theory at least) your existing aerial may prove to be good enough. However, it depends upon where you live, so there is no guarantee about this.
Another possibility is to get a new Class I digital aerial and have it installed pointing at a distant transmitter that is already transmitting Freeview. Use the My Freeview page to see if you can do this at your location.
If this is possible, you might find it a sensible investment because: a) you can spread the replacement of the TV sets over as long as you like; b) you will (probably) get the full suite of Freeview TV and radio channels - most relay transmitters will only be broadcasting half of the channels after switchover; and c) you can provide your guests with Freeview now, rather than after switchover.