The UK’s switch to digital only broadcasting was completed in the early hours of Wednesday morning, ending 70 years of analogue broadcasting.
Since 2008 regions of the UK have been switching to digital, freeing up space on the radio spectrum which can be used for services such as high-speed 4G mobile broadband.
The final region to convert was Northern Ireland where Olympic gold medallist Dame Mary Peters switched off analogue signals at the Divis transmitter.
The switch to digital has allowed signal strengths to be boosted, increasing the number of viewers able to receive Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) services such as Freeview, BT Vision and YouView.
DTT channels are now available from more than 1,100 sites serving over 26 million homes.
The transition to digital also saw the end of the BBC’s Ceefax text service which provided onscreen news, travel information and entertainment.
Public awareness of the switchover was managed by Digital UK which was funded by the BBC. The broadcaster also funded a switchover help scheme to install digital TV for elderly and disabled viewers.
The budgets for both schemes were underspent, allowing £340 million to be returned to the Government.
David Scott, Chief Executive of Digital UK, said: ‘Today is a milestone for UK television. Over the last five years switchover has modernised the terrestrial TV network and ensured that the benefits of digital are available to everyone.
“I want to thank the many organisations which played a part in this success and the viewers who generally took the change in their stride. I am delighted we have not only completed the task on time but also significantly under budget.’
Ed Richards, Chief Executive at broadcasting and communications regulator Ofcom, said: “The UK’s switchover to digital has been a huge success. Not only has is created more TV choice for consumers, it has also freed up vital capacity that will be used to deliver mobile broadband services to 98% of cities, towns and villages across the UK.”
Ofcom will auction the newly released capacity to mobile networks to enable them to launch services next year.