BBC HD to switch to DVB-S2 on 6th June 2011
The high definition (HD) television channels on satellite require a lot more bandwidth (number of bits per second) than the standard definition (SD) ones, as you might expect.
However the additional capacity required is reduced in two ways. First the MPEG-4 compression system is used (rather than MPEG-2) and generally the DVB-S2 modulation system increases the bandwidth of each satellite transponder.
Generally speaking, around nine SD television channels can be carried on a transponder in DVB-S mode, and four HD channels on one in DVB-S2 mode.
For historical reasons, the BBC's Astra 2D transponder 50 has been providing BBC One HD and BBC HD (and also ITV1 HD Merdian South) in the DVB-S mode, and this has used all the capacity on the transponder, because of the lower bitrate.
The changesOne 6th June 2011, the BBC will switch the transponder to DVB-S2. If you watch using Sky+HD, Virgin Media or Freeview HD you will not have to do anything.
If you use a branded Freesat box (or TV set), you may need to put it into stand-by mode for 30 seconds on 6th June. If that doesn't work, perform a 'first time installation'.
Update: Some Panasonic Freesat boxes are unable to deal with the change - see comments below
If you are using a unbranded Freesat box, you may find that you also have to do a 'first time installation' to get the channels back.
Some older satellite equipment will not support DVB-S2. If you can't watch Channel 4 HD, then you will no longer be able to watch the BBC HD channels.
Sky HD, Freesat HD EPG issuesCurrently BBC One HD cannot automatically replace BBC One in the Sky EPG at position 101, because there are 15 regional versions of BBC One, and only a single BBC One HD 'stream' on the satellite.
BBC Two carries four regions for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For a BBC TWO HD to appear in the Sky EPG at position 102, the BBC would need to provide four versions of BBC TWO HD.
All the other BBC channels are national, and have no regional components. BBC Three timeshares with CBBC, BBC FOUR timeshares with CBeebies, plus there is BBC News, BBC Parliament and BBC Alba.
The extra capacity found by moving to DVB-S2 could allow the BBC to provide BBC Three, BBC Four, CBeebies and CBBC channel in HD, and these could be provided in the "usual" EPG slots for Sky HD and Freesat HD users, which would put them on the lower numbered channels nearer the top of the guide.
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David: All content delivered for transmission on BBC Two has been in HD for about six months now. The main problem for the BBC are:
- there is no transponder space left on Astra 2D
- there is no space on Freeview HD for any more HD channels
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I am really annoyed with the BBC. I know the BBC had said that they were going to switch HD services from DVB-S to DVB-S2 but do you know:
1. Why they are making the change now?
2. Why they are only giving 4 days notice?
I am a bit "special" in that I am viewing the BBC HD services via a Windows 7 Media Centre PC and a Twin DVB-S PCI/E card (I also have 4 DVB-T tuners), but I was planning to wait until HD went on Freeview in my area in March 2012 and then go for YouView, or a Freeview+ HD box, or buy a replacement DVB-T2 PCI/E card.
Instead I now either have to lose HD for the next year, or buy a replacement Twin DVB-S2 card for over £100.
When Channel 4 HD started in DVB-S2, I was a bit miffed, but not excessively since this was a new channel and there wasn't much I wanted in HD on Channel 4. Now, with this change the BBC are taking my current service away.
I assume I will also lose ITV HD, as it is sharing the same transponder as BBC One HD and BBC HD.
I know buying a Freesat HD box is an option, but I am loathed to buy one at the moment with the G2 spec around the corner, and I wanted to stay with Freeview so I could keep getting channels like Dave.
I also want to avoid Sky or Virgin if I can and stay "Free".
I've had a quick search around the BBC web site and can find no notice of the DVB-S2 change. How did you find out about it?
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Peter Challis: The BBC site has it here - BBC - BBC Internet Blog: Changes to BBC HD channels on satellite on 6th June .
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