According to a tweet from a516_digital, transmitter operator Arqiva has bought IP TV outfit Connect TV. This might sound like dull corporate shenanigans to many but it’s potentially quite interesting for Freeview. First, though you need to know who these people are.
Arqiva operates the terrestrial transmitter network in the UK. They have their fingers in other pies, but that’s the important thing here. They play an essential role in bringing Freeview to your home, and anyone who wants to get on air will likely find themselves dealing with them.
Connect TV operates some channels that are available over the internet and specifically via Freeview HD. They don’t broadcast traditionally, but instead have a channel number from 110 and up, which effectively launches an app on Freeview HD kit, telling the box where it can find the stream on the internet, as long as the box has an active net connection. So, it looks like any other channel on the platform, but is actually delivered via the internet.
Right now, ‘low rent’ might be a charitable description of the channels in that part of the EPG, but that could all change following the purchase by Arqiva. Companies that want to get on the EPG will now be dealing with one of Freeview’s major players, which may give some more confidence to take the plunge.
And it’s a shrewd move for Arqiva too; with Freeview potentially going to be affected by 4g phone signals and little extra capacity available post-switchover – in fact, some of my sources suggest a loss of capacity over coming years – this gives Arqiva a way to ensure a presence on the Freeview programme guide for more people, even if broadcast spectrum is scarce.
Of course, little will change overnight, but to me this strengthens still further the case for only considering kit that has Freeview HD on board when you’re buying, and up to date software.
For the less technical, I’d say that amounts to “if it won’t give you iPlayer on the red button, don’t buy it” – if you can get iPlayer that way, the box will work with Freeview HD’s IPTV channels.
update: now confirmed at Broadband TV News