Subsidies and expert support help take the stress out of digital switchover

The UK's digital switchover is now very much underway, with many regions such as the West Country, Wales and Granada already switched, and the remainder to follow by 2012. Surprisingly, research undertaken by Sky shows that a substantial number of private apartment blocks are still not fully digitally ready. 

According to Sky Communal TV Solutions, it seems that private landlords are unclear on preparations and actions due to the perceived cost and no single point of contact who can manage the process.

Pascal Wharton, Head of Sky Communal TV Solutions, comments: "When we're helping flats make preparations for switchover, Sky's experience is that around half of them will require at least some work to get them fully digitally ready. Ideally this should take place a year or so in advance of switchover to avoid the pressure of working to a tight deadline, but in reality many private landlords are delaying decisions until the last minute because they believe the work will be costly and stressful. Thankfully, with Sky's specialist switchover team on hand, landlords can be assured of a smooth and affordable switchover."

Sky's Shared Dish system, which is suitable for private apartment blocks, comes at a very competitive price and includes a dedicated project manager and expert installers to guide landlords through the entire installation process. In addition, in many cases Sky offers substantial subsidies, depending on the complexity of the installation and cabling work, to make the costs more manageable.

Shared Dish delivers digital satellite TV signals to flats in a block from a single discreet rooftop dish, so residents don't need their own mini dishes. Cables are run directly from the Shared Dish to the set-top boxes in the flats of Sky subscribers.

Crucially Sky will also help with the communication to residents as part of the Shared Dish package, as well as providing a quality guarantee for the system and a variety of maintenance options. Its dedicated Switchover Team has attended around 1,500 meetings with private landlords, managing agents and residents committee members since its launch last year, helping to explain the process and the benefits of an upgrade.

Pascal Wharton adds:

"Reaching an agreement with residents over switchover plans can be a huge headache for landlords and managing agents. The Sky team can help by attending residents meetings, explaining the process and reassuring residents, so that a solution can be found to suit all involved. We take the needs of the residents on board before deciding which system will work best."

An alternative to the Shared Dish system is Sky's Integrated Reception System (IRS), which is a "platform-neutral" solution, offering huge flexibility and choice. It works by distributing signals to multiple flats from a single multi-purpose reception unit. A discreet faceplate is fitted in each flat, so that residents can choose either to watch free-to-air programmes on Freeview or Freesat, or to subscribe to Sky TV (including Sky+ and Sky+HD). This cost-effective system comes with a variety of maintenance and leasing options.

Pascal Wharton concludes:

"Private landlords can be assured that whatever the size or situation of their block, Sky has a suitable system available to help them prepare for switchover. We advise on an individual basis, block by block, and take into account the needs of residents, to provide the very best solution for all involved."

To find out more about preparations for digital switchover, landlords should visit www.sky.com/managers or call 08442 410 331 for a free estimate, and get in touch with the Sky Switchover Team.