The switching on of free digital television across the country yesterday was hailed as a momentous step in Irish broadcasting.
The trial service will allow nine out of 10 viewers nationwide to tune into RTE One, RTE Two, TV3, TG4 and RTE News Now through the new technology.
The old analogue system of watching home-grown television stations through an outdoor or indoor aerial will be switched off in two years' time.
Communications Minister Eamon Ryan said the free-to-air digital service -- called Saorview -- was would cover 90pc of viewers.
"Digital television will improve the television experience for the viewer, with more channels, high-definition pictures, higher-quality sound, on-screen menus and digital teletext," he said.
Viewers will need a special set-top box or digital-ready television set to tune in to the service.
More channels and radio services are to be added as part of a national launch in spring next year.