The UK has a very advanced telecommunications system. Many companies provide telephone services. In general, local telephone calls are not free. The rate per minute will depend on which telephone company and package you are using. Many telephone service providers also offer Internet and cable TV services.
Mobile phones are widely used in the UK and there are many networks and packages to choose from. There are two main options – pre-pay or pay monthly. Pre-pay mobile phones need to be “topped up” and you are only able to use the credit you have paid for in advance. “Pay monthly” services involve signing a contract for a fixed period (usually 12 or 18 months) and you will receive monthly bills. A “Direct Debit” is usually required for pay monthly mobile phones.
It is strongly recommended that you shop around for the best deal to suit your personal requirements when looking at mobile phones as prices vary considerably. It is also worth considering that calls from public telephone kiosks are likely to be less expensive.
Television and Radio
There are currently five terrestrial television channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5), with the non-BBC channels being operated by independent companies. There are also many satellite companies and an increasing number of cable companies operating television services. There is also a “Freeview Service” which requires a set-top receiver. For more information about this please see http://www.freeview.co.uk/.
Law requires a television licence for every household using television services, and the revenue raised from licenses is used to finance the BBC. For further information please visit http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/.
In September 2005, the Government confirmed that digital switchover will take place between 2008 and 2012. Digital switchover is the process of changing the UK’s television broadcasting to digital. This will involve converting the current television broadcasting network, as well as encouraging everyone to convert or upgrade their TV and recording equipment to receive digital television. For more information visit http://www.helpscheme.co.uk/.
There are many independent local radio stations as well as local and national services run by the BBC.
There are 10 national daily newspapers and 9 national Sunday newspapers, as well as many weekly and local papers. In Herefordshire there are three weekly publications: the Hereford Times (published Thursdays) and the Hereford Journal and Admag (published Wednesdays). In some areas the Journal and Admag are delivered directly to homes.
In the UK postal services are currently the responsibility of The Post Office, made up of The Royal Mail (which deals with the collection and delivery of mail), Parcelforce (parcel delivery), and the Post Office (which has retail services and is the agent for the letters and parcels businesses). There are currently around 500 main post offices and a further 17,000 branch or sub-post offices. As of 1 January 2006, the postal market has been liberalised, allowing other licensed operators to collect and deliver mail.