The analogue TV signal switch-off is proceeding apace across the UK, in keeping with the Government’s ambitious 4 year schedule for switching the entire nation to digital TV by 2012. So called “digital switchover” started in the Borders last year and comes down South this month with the first transmitter in Devon switched off on 8th April.
TVs that already have a digital TV signal (from Freeview, Freesat, Sky, BT Vision, or Top UpTV will not be affected). But homes that currently only receive the basic 5 channels will “go dark” and lose access to the channels, starting with BBC2.
Every TV in the household is affected, so even if the main set is taken care of, all the other TV sets in the house also need switching over, if they are to be used after the switch-off date.
The switchover process itself has kicked off a major marketing battle between the competing digital TV providers, hoping to attract households making the switchover. But choosing between the deals can be tricky, especially if you take into account your broadband and home phone services when making your choice - because the best deals to be found often involving “bundling” your broadband, home phone and TV services.
So you may actually get a better overall deal by choosing a pay-TV option (rather than Freeview), because it greatly reduces your broadband and phone bill!
A common example is the Jones family who don’t currently have digital TV, with uncompetitive broadband and home phone services from two different providers. They, often as not would save money by buying a TV, broadband and home phone bundle deal from a company like Sky, Virgin Media or BT.
The Jones family have basic analogue TV (5 channels only), plus broadband and home phone services from two different providers:
• Digital TV: (free, if you don’t include the TV license!)
• Broadband: Madasfish Max Premier (8 Mb/sec) £25.35 for first 6 months, then £29.35 per month
• Home phone: BT Unlimited Anytime Plan: £4.95 per month, plus £11.25 line rental (Total £16.20)
• Total cost to the Jones family of £45.55 per month for their broadband and home phone only.
The Jones family could “go digital” by buying a Freeview box for around £50 and enjoy a limited range of digital channels with no subscription to pay – so their total outgoings would remain at £45.55 per month. But surprisingly, they could actually choose a pay TV service, with far more choice than Freeview and actually pay less than £45.55 per month.
Equivalent BT TV, broadband and home phone bundle:
• BT Vision – over 70 digital TV and radio channels plus on-demand content
• BT Option 1 broadband – 8 Mb/sec wireless broadband
• BT Unlimited Anytime Plan – free anytime calls to UK landlines
• Total cost: £23.88 for first 3 months; then £31.85 per month (including line rental). £58.72 set up charges
Equivalent Virgin Media TV, broadband and home phone bundle:
• Virgin Media TV Size (M) - over 45 digital TV channels plus on-demand content
• Broadband Size (L) - up to 10 Mb/sec fibre optic broadband
• Phone Size (XL) – free unlimited anytime UK landline calls
• £32.95 per month including line rental payable to Virgin. Plus install cost of £30 (12 month contract)
Equivalent Sky TV, broadband and home phone bundle:
• Sky 1 Mix – over 200 TV and radio channels including Sky One
• Sky Broadband Mid – 8 Mb/sec wireless broadband
• Sky Talk Anytime – free anytime calls to UK landlines
• Total cost: £36.50 per month including rental payable to Sky. £60 set up charge
Even the most expensive of the three bundle options from Sky, (which gives you access to over 200 TV channels), would save the Jones family £9 per month versus simply buying a Freeview box with free TV subscription.
So for busy households who consume home phone, broadband and TV, subscribing to a pay TV service may actually be a cheaper option that getting Freeview.
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