GTech Surveys Limited is a Midlands based broadcast and telecommunications consultancy, able to conduct projects throughout the entire UK. We undertake RF (radio frequency) surveys, television reception surveys (TV signal surveys), TETRA and broadcast radio reception surveys, mobile phone network signal surveys, conduct television and radio interference investigations and support telecommunications planning work for wind farm developers, construction companies, architects, broadcasters and Local Planning Authorities. We have also developed specialist software and modelling techniques to assess the television, radio and other telecommunication interference that may arise from a wind turbine or wind farm.
In addition to these broadcast services, we review and prepare ES & EIA Telecommunications Chapters (also referred to as an 'Electronic Interference Chapter') and documents, liaising with telecommunication providers and advising developers with respect to associated Section 106 (Town and Country Planning Act 1990, England and Wales) and Section 75 (Town and Country Planning Act 1997, Scotland) agreements and planning conditions. GTech Surveys Limited is a consultant member of the Trade Association for Content Delivery - Confederation of Aerial Industries Ltd (CAI) and the RDI - the digital sectors professional body and trade organisation.
The launch of Local TV services started in the UK during 2013. Local TV is delivered by Comux on the digital terrestrial television broadcast network. More information regarding Comux and the launch of UK local TV services can be found on their website - Comux.
The Local TV Network (LTVN) represents the UK local TV channels that have been awarded Ofcom licenses. So far, 21 channels have gone on air since November 2013 - in Grimsby, London, Norwich, Nottingham, Glasgow, Brighton, Sheffield, Belfast, Bristol ,Cardiff, Leeds, Newcastle, Solent, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Oxford, Manchester, Cambridge, Lancashire, and Swansea.
The channels broadcast on Channel 7 or 8 on Freeview. Some of the channels also broadcast on Virgin (Channel 159) and Sky. More information regarding Local TV can be found on the Local TV website.
Digital Radio - DAB
DAB stands for Digital Audio Broadcasting (the name of the system). To listen, you need a DAB digital radio - you can't receive digital stations on a traditional FM/AM radio.
Where DAB digital radio is available
Currently, around 86% of the UK can receive DAB digital radio. To find out if your area is covered, use this postcode checker on Get Digital Radio.
BBC local radio
BBC local radio services are broadcast on DAB by commercial operators, because the BBC only has the capacity to broadcast its national services. For advice about specific local radio reception problems, you should contact the local operator.
With DAB, you may sometimes get 'bubbly' or 'underwater' noises, or the sound may break up or cut out altogether, but you will not experience the hiss, crackling, fading or station overlap that you get with FM or AM radio. The noises or break-up are usually caused by a weak signal. Try the following to strengthen the signal that your radio receives.
Aerial: make sure the radio's aerial is fully extended, whether it is the telescopic type or a thin wire. If you sometimes have trouble tuning to a particular station (getting a "Station not available" message), try touching the aerial as you select the station, thus using yourself as an aerial booster. With a personal (handheld) radio, the aerial is often in the headphone lead, so make sure it is not coiled up or twisted.
Location: signal strength can be reduced in very built-up areas, in basements, and inside buildings with walls of materials such as thick stone or reinforced concrete. Placing the radio near a window can help, and reception may be better upstairs than downstairs. Many DAB radios can display the signal strength on their screen, which can help you find the best position. If you still can't get good reception, you may need an external aerial.
Most DAB radios can take an external aerial - unscrew the fixed aerial and attach the cable from an external aerial in its place. DAB aerials are different from FM/AM or TV aerials, so make sure you have the right type. An indoor aerial may be enough, but for the best reception you can install an outdoor aerial. This should ideally be on the roof or high up on the outside of the building, though it may also give good results in the loft. To listen to DAB radio in your car, you need a DAB aerial - an FM/AM aerial will not work.
DAB is less affected by interference than FM/AM radio. However, sudden interruptions, especially in regular bursts, may be caused by an electrical appliance or a faulty central heating or fridge thermostat. If possible, check an FM radio to see if it is affected by crackling noises. Try switching off or disconnecting your electrical appliances one at a time to find out what is causing the problem.
Equipment for receiving DAB digital radio
When buying a DAB radio, look for the DAB logo. Some analogue radios are advertised as "digital", but this only means that they have a digital display rather than a tuning dial or bar. DAB radio sets available include portables, clock radios, hi-fi tuners, DAB adapters, personal (handheld) radios and car radios. Some radios allow you to pause, rewind and even record live radio. You can get a DAB receiver that plugs directly into your computer, or a PCI card that goes inside it, so you can listen to DAB radio on your PC or laptop. (This is not the same as listening via the internet.
Sound Digital has confirmed the full line-up for the new national DAB multiplex, and the official switch-on date
18 radio stations will be included on the new platform when it is officially turned on, on February 29th 2016. Three of them will be broadcasting in DAB+; Fun Kids, Jazz FM and a new service called Magic Chilled from Bauer.
Premier Christian Radio, which was recently at risk of losing its only national slot on D1, is launching a second service called Praise! whilst Asian Sound Radio's new station will be called Awesome Radio.
In total, there will be eight specialist music stations, three talk stations, three Asian stations, three Christian stations and one for kids.
The full line-up is:
Magic Chilled (new)
Premier Christian Radio
Most services will start broadcasting, or move from D1, on February 29th 2016. Other services will launch within a month of this date. The only confirmed start date we know of is talkSPORT2 which will launch on March 15th 2016.
The new multiplex covers less of the population than D1, so Absolute 80s, Premier Christian Radio and Planet Rock will lose parts of the UK from its broadcast area, including parts of the South West, South East, East Anglia, Wales and Scotland. Sound Digital will be using a network of 45 transmitters which it estimates will provide coverage for 73% - 75% of UK households and 63% - 65% of major UK roads.
The Secretary of State, Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP, will perform the official switch-on of the new multiplex network built by transmission provider Arqiva at a central London event on Tuesday 1st March. This event will also see the launch of the national Big Retune campaign to encourage listeners to retune their digital radios to access the full range of available stations. Scott Taunton, Chief Operating Officer, UTV Media plc, said: "Today marks a landmark moment for British broadcasting, with confirmation that the biggest expansion in radio choice for a generation is just weeks away. UTV is proud to be broadening the range of speech radio programming through the launch of talkRADIO and talkSPORT 2, as well as reuniting the British public with the iconic Virgin Radio brand."
Digital UK's role in co-ordinating the release of further spectrum in the 800MHz band was publicly confirmed in a statement by Ofcom in October 2011. These frequencies will be made available for new services, including 4G high-speed mobile broadband. Ofcom estimates that releasing this spectrum in line with other European countries will deliver benefits with a value of £2 billion to £3 billion.
Engineering work will be required at more than 400 transmission sites during late 2012 and 2013. At about 250 of these locations, some TV services will move to new frequencies, requiring viewers to retune DTT televisions and set-top boxes. Digital UK's approach to supporting viewers will draw on the lessons of switchover to provide guidance for anyone who may experience reception problems after retuning.
"4G" or "4G LTE" is the next generation of mobile technology, which can deliver significantly faster, more consistent mobile broadband speeds than 3G services. 4G will let people do more with their smartphones and tablets more quickly. It will support improved mobile services, productivity, commerce and ensure that many of the latest mobile devices work here in Britain. It will drive economic growth and create jobs, and unlock billions of pounds of private investment into the economy. It will also help improve broadband access in rural areas to further close the Digital Divide.
Mobile phone operators are preparing fourth-generation (4G) networks to provide customers with super-fast wireless broadband. Where these services are broadcast on certain airwaves (the 800MHz band) they may interfere with Freeview reception. A new company, Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited, has been set up by the mobile operators to provide filters and other assistance to households where TV reception is affected.
We are providing specialist RF (radio frequency) survey support for the work. More information about this project can be found here - at800's website
In November 2014 Ofcom announced its decision to reallocate some of the airwaves used by Freeview to mobile services. A similar process is being carried out across Europe, as spectrum is reassigned to meet a predicted increase in demand for mobile data. As a result, some Freeview channels will need to move to new frequencies. This process is known as 700MHz clearance. Understand more about it at the Digital UK website
For the past few years, the UK has been involved in the most complex change to television broadcasting witnessed for a generation. Part of this huge engineering project is to ensure that viewers can still enjoy all of their television services once the analogue transmissions have been switched off. We have been involved in this project since 2007 and have conducted technical studies for Ofcom and the BIS regarding the switch to digital only terrestrial television services. On November 14th 2007, Whitehaven was the first town to 'switch' to a fully digital television service. GTech Surveys undertook the pre & post-switchover transmitter coverage verification work for Digital UK and Sagentia. Click here for Digital UK information regarding Whitehaven & Copeland.
During Spring 2009, we undertook the Nationwide Aerial Survey for the The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). More information on this large project can be found here.
Wednesday 24th October 2012 - End of an Analogue Era as Switchover Completes
Digital TV signals boosted to reach 26 million homes - Airwaves released for 4G mobile services - PM praises 'biggest change for generation'
The UK ended more than 70 years of analogue broadcasting today with the completion of digital television switchover. Switchover has boosted digital terrestrial TV (Freeview) coverage to 10 million viewers in reception blackspots across the UK and cleared airwaves for new uses, including the next generation of mobile broadband services.
The final stage of the change got underway in the early hours of this morning after Olympic gold medallist Dame Mary Peters switched off the last analogue signals in the UK at the Divis transmitter, just outside Belfast and Freeview signals were boosted across Northern Ireland. Prime Minister David Cameron said: 'The UK's switch to digital television has been the biggest single change to broadcasting for a generation. It has delivered more choice for millions of viewers and paved the way for exciting new services, securing our role as a global player in broadcasting and creative industries.'
Digital UK led co-ordination of switchover, including transmitter upgrades and the viewer information campaign. The Switchover Help Scheme has helped more than 1.3 million older and disabled viewers make the switch to digital TV and transmission company Arqiva undertook the re-engineering of more than 1,100 transmitter sites.
As broadband delivered to the home gets faster, people increasingly expect their Wi-Fi to provide several services at once - such as video streaming, video calls, gaming and remote working. This demand puts pressure on the spectrum which carries Wi-Fi signals. Many Wi-Fi routers in the UK currently use a part of the spectrum called the 2.4 GHz band, which is becoming increasingly congested and can impair broadband performance. Many people have newer broadband routers, which use not only the 2.4 GHz band, but also the 5 GHz band - which has much more spectrum and is less congested.
Ofcom has decided to open up an additional 'sub-band' within the 5.8 GHz section of the 5 GHz band. In deciding to do so, we have taken into account the impact on other existing users, such as satellite services. The extra sub-band will result in 125 MHz more spectrum. This will allow for two more 80MHz channels to accommodate data-hungry applications. These extra channels are already being used in other countries, including the US. In order to implement the decision, Ofcom is now consulting with UK stakeholders on proposed regulations which will allow Wi-Fi use in this band. The making of the new regulations will also be contingent on any comments the European Commission may have on the technical parameters we propose to apply to the use of the band. The closing date for responses to this consultation document is 11th April 2017. Read more here from the Ofcom website
All other current open Ofcom consultations can be found here
On the 5th January 2015, Ofcom launched a consultation on draft regulations for new wireless telegraphy legislation, intended to keep pace with technological advances to control interference. Electrical and electronic apparatus are capable of emitting electromagnetic energy. In most cases, this is minimal and has no noticeable negative effects. However, in some cases the level of energy emitted from apparatus can cause interference to wireless communications. Ofcom has powers to take enforcement action in instances where some types of electrical or electronic apparatus causes undue interference to wireless communications. The proposed regulations are intended to be more resilient to technical developments. The deadline for responses to this consultation was 16th February 2015. Full details of the consultation can be found here.
We submitted a response to the "UHF and VHF spectrum planning - Call for inputs to Ofcom's plans for the potential procurement of models, tools & services" consultation with RFPlan. Full details can be found here - Ofcom
Interference from future mobile signals might make digital TV unwatchable for some Britons, Ofcom has said. A consultation exercise which will consider ways to tackle the interference issue ran until 11 August 2011 - Ofcom's Website
We worked with Plum Consulting to investigate the financial implications of Ofcom's decision to clear the 800 MHz spectrum band. As a result of this decision, DTT services currently located on channels 61 and 62 will be moved to alternative spectrum, requiring engineering changes and financing. We are advising Plum Consulting with respect to the engineering implications of such work.
Our 2009 Aerial Condition study & report for the BIS (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) is available upon request.
The data we collected for that project was used by Aegis Spectrum Engineering to produce the following work for Ofcom.
Our response to 'The Future of Digital Television' consultation was available on the Ofcom website from February 2008.
'Self-help' TV Relay Systems. The Ofcom FAQ regarding self-help TV relay systems can be found here.