Since this article was published, RTENL revised its schedule and switched off Mount Leinster's and Clermont Carn old frequencies on the 7th November.
TECHNICAL Irish transmitter operator RTENL has announced that it will be switching on the high powered Saorview service from Clermont Carn at 1pm on digital switchover day, 24th October - three hours after analogue TV in the Irish Republic is turned off for good. Two days later, a frequency change at Mount Leinster will take place.
While the first change will benefit some Northern Irish viewers able to receive overspill services from south of the border, the second change at Mount Leinster will benefit those enjoying overspill coverage in West Wales and SE Ireland.
For viewers in the eastern half of Northern Ireland, it means that many who have been able to receive the analogue RTE service from Clermont Carn transmitter, located a stone's throw away from the border south of Newry, will be able to tune in to the new Saorview service on UHF channel 52 after 1pm on Wednesday 24th October 2012. The change occurs several hours after the Northern Ireland-based full power digital services have gone live.
Unlike the previous digital Saorview service, transmitted on UHF channel 53, which was heavily restricted in the direction of the north, the new service on the new UHF frequency has been cleared for omnidirectional transmission, resulting in significant overspill into Northern Ireland (notably excluding viewers in the shadow of the Mourne Mountains). The old service on UHF channel 53 will be switched off on the 7th November.
Viewers with a MPEG4 compatible receiver, such as modern multi-standard digital TVs, Freeview HD receivers and Saorview boxes will be able to decode the service, which will include RTE One and Two, TV3, TG4, 3e and RTEjr. Viewers further north and west in Northern Ireland and with clear line of sight in the direction of the Irish Republic will be able to receive services from other Saorview transmitters.
In contrast to the service offered on Sky and via a relay multiplex in Northern Ireland (called NImux), RTE One and RTE Two direct via the Saorview service will be available "unedited", without certain sports coverage being blocked, as the services are being transmitted from within the Irish Republic.
Viewers interested in receiving Saorview services may need a second aerial, with local aerial installers able to provide advice. Coverage information, plus a map showing where the signal will overspill into Northern Ireland is shown on the Saorview website at www.saorview.ie
Wales and SE Ireland
In addition to the above changes affecting Clermont Carn, RTENL has announced that it will commence transmitting Saorview from the Mount Leinster transmitter on UHF channel 23 from Friday 26th October at 1pm. Services will continue on the old frequency of UHF channel 45 until the 14th November, when it will be switched off.
The frequency move will remove interference with the Preseli transmitter in Pembrokeshire on the other side of the Irish Sea from mid-November. Currently the Irish service co-channels with the Arqiva A multiplex from Preseli, which contains channels such as Sky News, Dave and Challenge.
Viewers along the Irish coast will be able to receive the affected Freeview channels from Preseli and some viewers on the fringes of Preseli's coverage area within Wales may find reception improving slightly. Some viewers in the West of Wales may have chosen reception from Preseli over a local relay in order to gain the full Freeview service (where geographically possible), albeit using a larger aerial installation which may have suffered interference from Mount Leister's digital transmissions on the same frequency from over the Irish Sea.
Equally, the transfer of Saorview to UHF channel 23 at Mount Leinster will mean that some viewers in Pembrokeshire may be able to get a Saorview signal with the correct equipment, without the local main transmitter blocking the service.
Viewers receiving from Preseli need to make a note of another retune date: 31st October, when the Freeview HD multiplex and the Arqiva B multiplex (carrying Film 4, ITV4, VIVA, Al Jazeera English) move to new frequencies as part of the reorganisation of the UHF frequency band to accomodate 4G mobile broadband.