TELEVISION viewers in two small Welsh towns today became the first in the UK to have their analogue signal switched off.
From the early hours of this morning the residents of Ferryside and Llansteffan in West Wales were only able to receive digital TV.
Residents voted overwhelmingly to switch to the digital signal after they took part in a government pilot as part of a national changeover plan.
They were the first viewers in Britain to abandon the old analogue network in favour of the new technology. Just one channel, BBC2 Wales, will still run on the analogue network as its schedule differs slightly to that shown on the digital BBC2W.
Just over 400 households agreed to trial digital set-top boxes when digital transmissions in the area were switched on last November.
The Ferryside transmitter was chosen for the trial for technical reasons covering as it does a compact, well-defined local area.
After three months the households in the trial were asked if they wanted to keep the digital services or revert to analogue only.
More than 98 per cent voted to retain the digital services.
Project director Emyr Byron Hughes said all households receiving a TV signal from the Ferryside transmitter had already switched over to digital and no-one would be left without a TV signal.
He explained that residents had taken to digital, "because it provides more services".
"In Ferryside and Llansteffan all they have got is the basic four channels. Plus the signal isn’t all that good. It is such a leap forward, even with the basic digital service, they have just taken to it."
He said that the trial had been run principally to find how people coped with the new equipment and to see what technical problems might arise when a national digital switchover takes place.
The trial is part of advanced government plans to switch from the analogue network to digital as soon as possible.