What is Freeview Lite/Light?

March 11, 2022
Tom Smart
A picture of the Freeview logo

What is Freeview Lite and why I only receive a limited
number of channels?

Quite simply Free Lite is a reduced version of Freeview with
significantly less TV stations than a full Freeview service. Freeview Lite is
broadcast by local relay TV transmitters that pick up and re-transmit a signal
from a main (or possibly another relay) transmitter and redistribute the signal
on different frequencies to homes that couldn’t pick up the first main
transmitter. This is usually because there is something substantial in the way,
like a big hill, building or group of trees.


There is one big reason why you can only receive a limited
number of TV services on a Freeview Lite transmitter, it’s because this is all
the transmitter broadcasts!


There are several reasons behind why you can only receive a
limited number of TV stations, to be honest I can’t 100% say one way or another
all I can do it say from an experts point of view why I believe this is so, but
I suspect it’s a combination of reasons.


1) There’s no space for the channels.

With more a more being pumped wirelessly these days and a
huge amount to fit with the spectrum or UHF (Ultra High Frequency). There
simply isn’t enough room to squeeze all these extra services and this is
getting worse. Since the release of 4G mobile broadband stole a sizeable chunk
of the UHF and with further auctioning off of the UHF scheduled for around 2020
which will see even more space go. It’s doesn’t look promising whether Freeview
Lite transmitters will ever broadcast all the services.


2) The Audience isn’t big enough.

All of the relay transmitters in the country all added up
are said to only serve 5% of the country, off that 5% many would have Sky or no
TV aerial at all (you would be surprised, good on them I guess) so the amount
of people that will suffer with less channels as a result is quite small when
compared to the population of the UK. For this reason and the cost to serve a
small part of the country, I have heard that the commercial operators do not
see this making financial sense, given the associated costs and these are
exactly the channels you are missing.


3) Well it’s more than you did have isn’t it?

Part of the argument for these services never being added to
the Freeview Lite transmitters in that even without these channels it’s more
than you did have prior to the digital switchover when all you could receive
was 4 or 5 analogue stations. So what are you moaning about type of position.


What can you do if you want to receive all the channels?


A lot of the time nearby transmitters that broadcast all the
channels can also be received, these signals may be weaker but still useable so
an aerial replacement as well as a re-alignment may be required. Amplifiers or
“boosters” can be used to give the signal a kick in the right direction. For
instance when I install aerials in Newhaven, Peacehaven or Seaford I will try
to align the TV aerial to the Whitehawk transmitter in Brighton despite there
being a transmitter on top of the hill in Newhaven. The goes for aerial
installations in parts of Eastbourne such as Old Town and Meads, I will try and
point the aerial to Heathfield and avoid the Eastbourne and Old Town


Alternatively you could go to satellite. Sky or for those who
don’t want to pay Freesat which is very similar to Freeview with a few channels
difference. As geographic location within a single country has little of no
effect to the expected signal levels it doesn’t matter where you are. Assuming
you satellite dish can get a signal that is. More information can be found on
Freesat here. http://smartaerials.co.uk/satellite/freesat


Finally and ever so slightly related. I always thought that
the spelling was ‘Lite’ because it a reduced version of Freeview, like a low
fat yoghurt for example. But lots of sites are saying “Light”.  Again to be honest I’m not 100% sure which is
right but they are the exactly same thing.

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