Freeview is facing a dramatic shakeup later this month that will see numerous channels swapping positions on the TV planner and some disappearing for good. The changes are due to a broadcast signal – named COM7 multiplex – being switched off to make way for the latest 5G mobile technology. This COM7 service is currently used to beam a swathe of channels to millions of homes across the UK and once it’s gone there will be much less capacity for the Freeview platform to use.
One of the first and biggest casualties of the switch-off is BBC News HD which will no longer be available from June 30.
Confirming the news, the BBC said: “As a consequence of the closure of COM7, BBC News on Freeview will be available only in SD from the end of June 2022. However, you can still watch it in HD on BBC iPlayer.”
Along with that channel disappearing, the BBC has also revealed that BBC Four HD and CBeebies HD will move to new positions on the planner with customers advised that they may need to retune their TVs and set-top boxes later this month.
It’s not just BBC services that will be affected by the COM7 multiplex changes as channels including FreeSports, Now 70s, More4 +1, PBS, QVC Beauty HD and Quest HD also rely on this signal.
It’s currently unclear what will happen to these services after June 30 although Freeview says it is working with content providers to reduce the impact of the upcoming signal changes.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, a Freeview spokesperson said: “The COM7 mulitplex’s Ofcom licence will expire at the end of June, following an Ofcom auction to make more space for 5G mobile services. We are currently liaising with the channels that are on this multiplex to confirm next steps. A further service update will be provided to viewers in due course.”
So why is this all happening and who will be affected?
Last year, UK network EE won the auction to use the COM7 frequency to help boost its new 5G data network.
5G is the future of mobile devices as it offers much faster download speeds and a more reliable signal which means more people can connect to it at once.
Although that’s great news for mobile users, this all means that at the end of June 2022, Freeview’s COM7 multiplex will close. As a result, there will be less broadcast capacity available and a number of channels carried on COM7 will have to either close or be reallocated to other multiplexes.
Hopefully, there will be a full update on exactly what channels will be shut down and where existing services that are continuing to broadcast their content will be moved to.