Ferryside television relay station is a small TV relay in the village of Ferryside, Carmarthenshire, Wales (grid referenceSN371104). The Ferryside relay is fed with the off-air signal from Preseli about 28 km to the northwest. It is one of the few UK broadcasting transmitters using a wooden pole as aerial tower. It was built in 1985 partly to provide a stronger signal to Ferryside itself, but also to lower Llansteffan on the western side of the estuary which could not receive a usable signal either from Preseli nor from Carmel about 22 km to the northeast.
The Ferryside relay is unique because it was chosen as the site of the UK's experimental switchover trial, and as such became the first UK TV transmitter to be converted to digital, complete with the loss of the old analogue TV signal. This mimicked what would actually start to happen later in the decade as the analogue TV signals were progressively turned off in favour of DVB across the country as whole.
At the end of 2004, the relay was equipped to provide the four primary DTT multiplexes (Multiplex 1, 2, A and B) and after a three-month period, all local residents were given Freeview boxes. Three of the four analogue services were switched off at midnight on 30 March 2005.
Only BBC Two Wales analogue remained. There had reportedly been some local concerns, caused by the differing content of the BBC 2W digital service compared with BBC Two Wales analogue.
BBC Two Wales analogue was finally switched off as part of the full digital switchover in the Preseli region which happened four years later between 19 August and 16 September 2009.
The Ferryside "digital switchover" trial commenced with four of the pre-DSO multiplexes from Preseli being re-radiated in the gaps between the existing analogue TV channels. The BBC multiplexes were trialled with the ultra-low ERP of 1 W, the COM multiplexes with 5 W.
BBC One Wales, ITV1 Wales and S4C were all switched off in March 2005 and the four digital multiplexes took over on their final intended channel allocations but at an interim ERP of 5 W each until the rest of the area performed its digital switchover four years later. BBC Two Wales continued as an analogue service (but was moved to S4C's old allocation of channel 31).
It appears that the decision to allocate BBC Mux B to channel 27 was a late change, forcing a variation of licence to be agreed with OFCOM.
Analogue BBC Two Wales was finally switched off in August 2009 because digital switchover had commenced at the parent transmitter at Preseli and that was the first analogue channel to be shut down there. The new BBC A multiplex started from Preseli and took over the channel allocation previously used by the "BBC Mux 1" multiplex, using 64-QAM modulation and with its full post-DSO power level of 25 W. Unusually, at Ferryside, the final ERP chosen for the digital multiplexes was actually higher than has previously been used for analogue TV.
† Some disagreement as to whether this service is 5 W or 25 W. It is usual practice for Digital 3&4 to be radiated with the same ERP as is used for the BBC multiplexes. OFCOM's own post-DSO documentation does agree with the table shown above however.