Wednesday 17 July 2024

Freeview TV is fatally flawed! It can never work in large areas of the UK...

The Freeview TV platform is less fatally flawed than it was ..?

Previous update 6th February 2024 

Latest 17th July 2024

Good news- coverage in Essex has improved and been solid for the last couple of months, with only occasional outages. Nothing has changed at this end with the antenna or equipment, so maybe my efforts to draw attention to the problem have actually found the right people.

Most Freeview viewers will have seen reception problems often caused by high pressure over Northern Europe. All the more reas on to fume at those polticians and civil servants who ignored advice and still sold the crucial bandwith for mobile phone use.

So remember to check the European Tropo report page at ...

https://www.tvcomm.co.uk/g7izu/radio-propagation-maps/40-2/

The map is showing red lines for propagation on the 144MHz band (2m ham band) and Band4 UHF is  500-580Mhz - but the basic principles apply, and the ducting conditions that create extended range at 144MHz will also generally enhance 500MHz. If there is no tropo effect at 144MHz, there will be none at 500MHz.

The current solar activity peak is adding to the excitement, with a startling display of Aurora that was visible even at mid lattitudes on September 12/13 2023 - always a harbinger of challenging and complex radio propagation 

Watch www.freeviewing.com for updates ! 

In the good old days of analogue TV coverage, it was simple to see if there was "atmospheric interference" by the patterning on the picture. And it rarely ever got to the point where the whole program was trashed. The sound was generally barely affected ... and viewers were prepapared to put up with a remarkable amount of patterning. Crucially, the clues that this was "obviously" co-channel interference were visible to all, and the process is very well described by Sheffield-based aerialsandtv.com, a specialist supplier of cures and advice... 

Old analogue UHF TV picture with co-channel patterning

But digital is a different situation, it either all works or it is unwatchable - and the sound can be brutally chopped up, frequently with a blank screen with an unhelpful message telling you your TV signal has disappeared - as if you didn't already know. There is very little degradation in the form of progressive loss between perfect reception and total FUBAR. You have to delve deep into setup of TV and STB to find the signal strength and quality reports – which are pointless for most users anyway. The broadcasters and platform operators are keen to avoid admitting any sort of potential liability.

A big irritant with Freeview (UK Digital terrestrial television - DTT) interference is the time being wasted by people wondering what happened to their TV picture when it breaks and disappears. Who or what is to blame? Nobody knows without checking the signals (and multiple channels) in multiple locations and posting results on a website in real time, where people can visit to see if they are wasting their time - because the fault is out of viewer and broadcaster control when due to "transient" atmospheric conditions. 

These atmospheric conditions are known as tropospheric ducting, which is brought about in the UK by static high pressure weather systems over Europe. An excellent technical description for nerds by an aussie radio ham (VK3FS)  is available on YouTube...


Pixelated Freeviewing....

Many users of the Freeview digital terrestrial TV broadcast platform, and its derivative YouView, have found reception broken sporadically over the past few years. Currently (spring 2023), bad reception on Freeview and other digital terrestrial TV services is mostly affecting the South East - as the interference is being ducted across from the near continent by atmospheric conditions. A detailed description of the process is available on the excellent ATV Website

No one said this was easy, and whilst we sympathise with the challenge facing Freeview and it's broadcasters, the government was warned this was going to happen well in advance - and chose to ignore.  Pixelation break-up will tend to affect all DTT channels during periods of interference, although the broadcasts are grouped on transmitters in blocks called '"multiplexes". These operate on separate frequencies in band 4 UHF, which is the remaining radio frequency spectrum previously occupied by analogue UHF TV, after the sell-off to mobile networks. Interference from foreign transmissions can be on any frequency, and it may be scrambled up with many other signals that make it difficult to identify precise sources. Local interference arising from rogue PV inverters (and even dodgy phone chargers) is also possible, but the average TV viewer is not going to be able to diagnose this type of problem, and the BBC who are notionally responsible for helping viewers with Freeview reception issues, will not be able to assist in most cases.

Freeview and its partners are saying very little, since there is generally no cure other than "wait until it stops". The only other thing that is being said is "whatever you do, don't attempt to retune your receiver during these periods of interference"... as that can completely scramble the setup, and you will not be able to find out when normal service has been resumed. A full reset may be required.

Which does not impress the viewers denied access. Ofcom does not want a baying mob at the gate demanding their licence fees back. You can  check the real time tropo propagation at...

 (https://www.tvcomm.co.uk/g7izu/radio-propagation-maps/40-2/)  

The simple reality for licence fee payer...

 


Hmmm... that reply seems suspiciously like the sound of a can being kicked down the lane; with any luck, the conditions that caused the Freeview signal to be trashed will have moved on by the time the viewers have been put to more inconvenience of fiddling about, and they won't have the energy to pursue it further?

Reception remains unpredictable, and is compounded by the solar cycle reaching a peak with solar flux at a ten-year-high.  Follow the sun at www.spaceweather.com - also the aurora visible around the world are predicted reliably at this site ... which confirms that the sun may have more influence over our atmosphere than is recognised by our obsession with a trace gas that represents 0.04% of the atmosphere.

So there have been days when Freeview simply does not work in affected areas.  A brief warning posted on a Facebook group had a response within minutes:  William Morrison said :- "Glad I saw this. All my non HD channels have been pixelating all week. Was going to buy a new tv today .."

And if people are buying new Freeview gear because of this, they may want compensation when the truth is exposed – a combination of a conspiracy of silence and the negligent choice of DTT and sale of essential spectrum.  Dealers and manufacturers with stocks of Freeview equipment have a problem.

The Daily Express: 
https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/science-technology/1736474/Freeview-bad-signal-weather-retune-TV 

This was the first time we hd seen the Freeview problem mentioned in the mainstream press!  Yes, it’s a bit nerdy and we imagine Ofcom is keen that public attention is not drawn to the problem -  because Ofcom sold UHF TV bandwidth for mobile phones, and there is now no room to manoeuvre TV out of the way of the interference – despite being warned this would happen.

There was communication with government at the time of analogue switch off, warning that DTTV wouldn’t work, and suggesting all effort went into Freesat, to create a solution that would enable a whole house to be fed from a single single dish: a key benefit of UHF delivered DTTV, is that Satellite TV generally requires one dish feed and box per TV; so multiroom solutions for satellite still seem to cost from £500.

The future of TV delivery is IP (online) - as all UK broadcasting using wireless is being turned off and the radio spectrum sold.

The various World Radiocommunications Conferences that are held from time to time to coordinate the response of each national telecommunications authority to allocate frequencies that will avoid interference and set other standards, appear to be helping the WEF to establish the universal imposition of digital online spyware. The TV industry likes the idea, since it makes tracking and tracing audiences for the purposes of advertising possible - and it conforms with the world economic forum proposition that we "will own nothing and be happy", by forcing everyone to have a (rented) tracked and traced IP connection, and is a further step along the way towards digital currency laced with social scores.

So there is now a big effort to herd all users to online and get all radio and television via broadband, which obviates the need for Freeview digital terrestrial TV to work. So the message from Ofcom to the TV industry is "hang on chaps sooner or later television reception over UHF broadcast will be history anyway.

This also achieves the holy grail for the government, by enabling BBC services to be moved to subscription so the licence fee can be scrapped. But there is a green angle to consider...summing up all the options, someone has shown that UHF broadcast makes better use of energy than online. Don't tell Greta.

https://www.broadbandtvnews.com/2023/02/28/dtt-greener-than-ott-but-tv-a-low-consumer-of-energy-overall/

" The terrestrial distribution of television signals is currently more efficient and less energy-consuming than IP-delivered content, a report for the regulator Ofcom has found.

Although it does not have statutory duties to consider environmental sustainability issues, Ofcom’s report commissioned from Carnstone recognises the importance of understanding factors which affect the stakeholders.

For both OTT and DTT services, most of the energy consumption is within the home rather than in the distribution system – TV sets, viewing devices, and in-home networks account for 90% of the energy used.

This includes devices within the home such as Wi-Fi networks and set-top boxes that are usually left switched on, even if their power consumption is relatively low.

Outside the home, the network transmission uses six times more energy for OTT based on current viewing volumes, though this is relatively low, and TV viewing is deemed to be a relatively low source of emissions overall.

One hour of viewing TV via terrestrial networks has an energy consumption of 9.1Wh whilst for streaming, this is 54Wh. In other words, viewing TV for an hour is approximately the same as boiling water for around 3-4 cups of tea.

Networks have become more efficient overall, not by reducing absolute energy consumption, but by serving more data traffic with a similar amount of energy."

And perhaps someone should take note that 5G towers are consuming a lot of energy, so China Unicom is putting some of them to sleep overnight.  China Unicom decided to put some 5G base stations to sleep between 9pm and 9am, prompting concern from users - 5G energy consumption is an environmental problem that’s being overlooked, some experts say...
5G towers are consuming a lot of energy, so China Unicom is putting some of them to sleep overnight | South China Morning Post (scmp.com)

Here are latest preview pictures of the low energy 7G iPhone 19

Well done to the politicians and their experts for having the vision to take all the factors and issues into account, and get us to this moment...

TV streaming players are a poor "upgrade" to a Freeview PVR

You lose the option to record off-air on a Freeview or Youview PVR, that enables you to play back PVR recordings and recover the 15% of your (carefully tracked and analysed) leisure time that is being confiscated by broadcasters, and sold to advertisers without your permission. Then those advertisers add insult to injury by delivering commercials that portray a fantasy society - that bears only a passing resemblance to the UK demographic makeup - one that seems mostly to exist in the minds of politically correct marketing and media industries.  Even the endless "pay now for your cremation" ads are "fully  inclusive" ... maybe the NHS will include a commercial for prepaid cremation with each vaccine booster shot for the over 60s????

Moreover, the online players that deliver these commercials (ITVx, All4 etc) do not seem to work in many situations. After viewers have suffered the tedium of setting up their accounts, they will be delivered a commercial they didn't ask for, and then this message appears after the service crashes and fails to resume playing the programme:


The various "help" addresses on Twitter and elsewhere for Freeview, Youview and TalkTalk are epically frustrating, and only seem to exist to politely shoo away all users, by grinding them down in a battle wills... I will not bother to repeat the threads here - but rest assured everything has been taken down and will be used in evidence.

Meanwhile, the UK government is preparing to turn off all analogue radio tranmissions (AM: LW/MW FM:VHF) so we will all be stuck with the unskippable online ads, unless all commercial players follow ITV's lead and offer users the option to pay to buy back their time that would otherwise be wasted on commercials. Ironically the UK government's reason for doing this is so that the BBC licence fee can be dropped and the BBC will fund itself with differential charging for content... and may well also introduce advertising.

We would suggest one way to sweeten an otherwise bitter pill would be for broadcasters to share the advertising revenues with those forced to suffer commercials by using a reward scheme such IncenTV…  "we reward you for interaction and responding to commercials" 

Next move?

It is in the nature of this type of periodic atmospheric interference that it can disappear as quickly and as randomly as it appeared. At which point many of those with responsibility for the broadcast delivery chain will attempt to kick the can down the lane, and insist that the viewers imagined it all; or there are additional local factors for which no broadcaster has any responsibility or any control. 

And of course, this may all be blamed on "climate change"..? However, look here for an update on the present solar activity.

But rest assured, it can reoccur randomly when the atmospheric conditions are aligned, so the fundamental truth that the digital terrestrial broadcast platform is not fit for purpose, will not have changed. Maybe the 5 to 10 million affected premises should apply for the BBC licence fee to be returned? Plus the cost of antenna installations and hardware that has been bought?

Let's not allow "them" get away with this!

Are you a BBC licence payer and a user of Freeview or Youview?

You may be entitled to join a class action claim for refund of the past 3 years licence fees, and costs you have incurred buying equipment and antenna installation services for a Freeview service that is frequently broken beyond the ability of Freeview to fix.
Watch www.freeviewing.com for developments.



Fusion Energy Overview Commenced May24

Fusion Energy Overview ... Commenced May24

July 17th v0.2

Having been debating the practical availability of fusion energy on Twitter for a while, I need to point out that just about all the energy that has driven the universe since the big bang is hydrogen fusion energy. 
All the energy responsible for life on earth (and everything else!) is also hydrogen fusion energy. Some 5% of the energy presently delivered in the UK grid system is also fusion energy.
It's just that the reactor is 93m miles away then converted by local solar panels.

May 22nd V0.1

Well then, the pace of Fusion news is picking up. I will do my best to sift the pearls of knowledge 

Once a practical fusion generator can be demonstrated and delivered, EVERY thing changes.

This is the best recent contribution I found: Germany seems to be in the lead... which may explain why they are so laid back about their prewsnt conventional energy shortfall

https://youtu.be/S8mM0CnidEg

It's not over - YouTube has become the world leader in hype to get you lock on your eyeballs.
Check out the commercial project discussed in this video  Gauss Fusion 

Cold Fusion is Back (there's just one problem)

Although from May 2023, this remains a worthy primer and Sabine Hossenfelder does her usual bang up job of explaining and presenting.

https://youtu.be/ZbzcYQVrTxQ






Monday 1 July 2024

World War Three is under way...

Surviving World War Three...  

...starts with being reliably informed - something which is absolutely not guaranteed in this age of digital deception and endless gaslighting. The UK's ofcom regulatory agency has been perverting and subverting the broadcast and media industry for a long time now. Somehow, we have to find a way of making its operations much more transparent.

[This url https://poelposition.blogspot.com/2024/05/world-war-three-is-under-way.html]

16JULY24 update
V1.16
 
Russian sabre-rattling is getting sinister when senior Kremlin folks are suggesting that the Storm Shadow cruise missiles developer - BAE systems - are considered legitimate targets. Not least because UK "advisers" are suspected to be involved in training and (successful) operation.
The next stage of a "proper" world War as opposed to "a little local difficulty" is to attack your enemies' military and political assets, wherever they may be located in the world.

The grumbling broke last November and is picking up momentum.

We have cleverly left Russia with very little to lose if they do take a pop, as Ukraine is proving the truth of the old maxim that a good biggun will always beat a good littleun in the long run. At the start of the Ukrainian adventure, Russia was exposed as seriously inept - but we have now graciously given it enough time to get its act together with the money from the sale of oil and gas and Ukraine is in deep trouble... while ignoring the Yuri Bezmenov warnings for 40 years of becoming immersed in the distraction nonsense of gender and pronouns for our armed forces (farces?)...

Maybe Russia's greatest triumph has been to reduce UK national moral to the point that there is no evidence of any appetite to fight for King and Country. Never mind our woefully discredited politicians. Patriotism is "so yesterday" as a result of the unprededented public and media cynicsm - traceable to the rot that was initiated by Tony Blair's 1997 regime. Coincidentally, Sunak is now punting the idea of national service for 18 year olds. Presuambly some members of the Sunak Youth will serve in squads of smoking ban enforcers?

Various observers believe that World War 3 has already kicked off involving the West versus Russia/Iran/Palestine axis with ambivalence from China and India.

Many missiles and drones have been launched; helicopters carrying presidents have come down in mountains, and undersea communication cables and pipelines have been "failing". This is actually getting serious if you can drag yourself away from the Euros and pantomime politics.

All of which means the strategic case for scheduled short wave (SW) broadcast radio is as strong now as it's ever been since WW2 : especially in the online age where the path from source to listener is complex, convoluted with many vulnerable points for interception and failure.

Shortwave can reach over 4 billion listeners behind tyrant internet firewalls for a transmission cost of around £500 per hour. A £5k "field" transmitter and antenna can be set up and made operational in an hour by a trained crew. Compare that to 20 years and ~£100bn to install and commission internet/cellphone digital broadcast infrastructure that could reach 4 billion. Assuming everything was working in chains of hundreds of connected interdependent services.

WW2 had made “the Wireless” the go-to national information medium for the whole world – and those sets used thermionic valves tied to mains power. The much more convenient battery powered portable transistor radio appeared in the 50s, and by the 60s every home (and teenager) had at least one.

The swinging sixties was the seminal period for British Pop – and Radio Luxembourg (founded in 30s) was already available across the UK and Europe - despite the UK’s government’s autocratic control of the airwaves that prevented commercial broadcasting, 208 Radio Luxembourg was “adopted British media”, much to the chagrin of the BBC and UK regulatory authorities. As the name suggests it was broadcast (legally) from tiny Luxembourg using the world’s most powerful medium wave transmitter on 208m - in the medium wave, easily heard across Europe after dark. It cornered the teenage and youth market and so the advertisers lined up, it was clearly hugely popular.

Then came the offshore pirates operating in international waters off the UK’s east coast, and Radio Caroline 208, Radio North Sea International (and others) were launched from 1965 and quickly became an entertainment sensation in the medium wave. The UK response was typically anodyne with the 1967 introduction of the heavily regulated BBC Radio One to sit alongside the Light Programme which became Radio two – and the Home Service became Radio 4. Various other services have come and gone over the years, and now all these and more exist in a variety of online incarnations. And then there was the podcast.

BBC Radio has been rebranded as BBC Sounds. However, the audience has been divided rather than grown – the ability of the Home Service and light programme to reach just about everyone in the UK each week Is something a modern media mogul would die for.
Meanwhile, Television showed up!

TV had progressed to 5 terrestrial channels and the start of the idea of digital terrestrial TV – with another muddle of regulation, incompatible non-standard technology and an obsession with encryption. Predictable commercial folly ensued. The public was more confused than ever, and the same audience with a “legacy” UHF band4 TV antenna that once had the choices of BBC1/2 and ITV, could now spread itself thinly over about 50 digital channels.

Digital terrestrial television launched as ONdigital in the UK on 15 November 1998. However, ONdigital had problems from the start, and renaming the service ITV Digital on 11 July 2001 failed to help the matter. And Freeview still does not work reliably across much of the UK.

All subscription services except E4 and FilmFour went off-air on 1 May 2002 after the consortium collapsed, explained as being due to paying too much for the television rights for The Football League. However, the choice of 64QAM broadcast mode, the fact that at least 40% of homes would need new aerials to receive it, a high churn rate, an insecure hackable encryption system, the cost of having to provide free set-top boxes, and aggressive competition from BSkyB all contributed to ITV Digital's spiralling costs, before shareholders Granada and Carlton called a halt to the venture.

All this sets a scene that suggests the UK broadcast industry in the 90s might have been better managed if operated by a troupe of chimpanzees. 

VAST amounts of money had been wasted on new technology follies - and for some reason the BBC and UK government decided to cut the relatively minor cost of one broadcast service that had been quietly and effectively going about its job of delivering authoritative news, “soft diplomacy” and British culture to the world: the BBC World Service on radio - since December 1932!

And then in the midst of this confusion, the number of digital TV and radio channels proliferated, and spread the same audience ever more thinly across all these new channels. In the golden age of 5 channel TV, ITV and BBC still commanded 20m audiences for prime time. And then the 500 channel digital diaspora was further confused by TIVO/personal video recorder devices - and now ultimately 5 million channels of internet and streaming. 

I don’t think it can get any worse!  Sooner or later, new formats of advanced programme guides will come along to help round up and redirect dispersed audiences to available services. Smart EPGs are a very big subject for another blog post. They can even be operated if the internet is taken down by WW3.  

Back to the future 

It is strategically necessary to rethink and relaunch the one broadcasting format that allows the truth to reach everybody on the planet in the most direct fashion, simultaneously: short wave radio! Remember that any smartphone is going to betray the user's identity and location - even to the extent of providing targeting information... 💥

The really fascinating allure of SW was and remains that broadcasts from the right type of antenna installations (at the right time of day) at just 1 to 5 locations around the planet can reach battery portable receivers in the hands of all 8 billion inhabitants of that planet. The ultimate mass medium. And it's "off grid".

There is no need for a subscription. A SW radio receiver is a one time purchase. Emergency and temporary transmitters can be put up in a day by squads of 4 people with a week's training. Internet infrastructure has taken 25 years to evolve to the current level, and it most certainly cannot be replaced in the day following a major natural or unnatural catastrophe.

~£25 could provide off-grid information from around the world directly from transmitter to this multiband DRM receiver, without needing to pass along sabotaged undersea cables or through a chain of smouldering data centres  ..?

An Achilles heel of short wave broadcasting is that it may be jammed by those who would prefer the information did not reach the audience. This is, however, an imprecise process, and new and sophisticated ways to dodge jamming are possible. However, the very presence of a jamming signal will indicate to the audience that there is information that somebody wants to conceal from them... and it is human nature to be curious...

However, it is in the fascinating nature of short wave that the signals are bounced off the Ionosphere - which varies in height and density according to time of day and location. It is possible that a transmitter 10 miles away will be inaudible - but is perfectly audible 1000 miles away. The "skywave" signal sails over the local receiver on its way up to be reflected from the ionosphere. Back in the day, the transmitter engineers and frequency planners of the World Service could aim to "drop a signal" into a specific location. This can make jamming short wave broadcasts into an impossibly complex process.

Continued at https://poelposition.blogspot.com/2022/03/shortwave-radio-in-ukraine-why.html

The challenge is to make sure the audience has the means to receive the short wave transmissions. Some snazzy tech coupled to compelling content is a place to start thinking. Media operators ashould go weak at the knees at the prospect getting their content on a network where it costs ~£500 per hour to "pass" an audience of 4 billion.

Once upon a time, almost everyone had access to a "regular" radio with coverage of the short wave bands. Listening to the radio services from around the globe was a big part of my youth in the 60s/70s – I used to listen to the English language services of the Voice of America, Radio Canada International, Radio Netherlands – plus Radio Moscow and Radio Peking and many others. Almost all countries at that time invested an hour a day to broadcast their “state news” in English. Every house had at least one “AM” radio somewhere that was capable of receiving these programmes with a modest antenna.

Next time you watch missiles on TV news, you might like to contemplate how you can remain informed once the internet has been disabled by missiles or "unfriendly" hackers. Which will almost certainly also take out digital TV services.

The vulnerability of undersea cables carrying internet data is quite terrifying.



(C) WSP 2022/2024