The government wants to turn off the analogue signal by that date, a target that many believe is unachievable.
The sea change has come as people who have previously refused to take up digital television are being won round by Freeview, the BBC and BSkyB joint venture digital terrestrial offering.
Its popularity -- particularly among upmarket and older viewers put off by cable and satellite -- is being attributed to its simplicity. The fact that it is plug and play and has no subscription charges, just a one-off payment for a box, are said to be alluring.
Freeview has 50 channels, ranging from news and documentaries to drama and comedy. As well as the BBC's raft of digital channels, including youth channel BBC Three, it has music channels, radio stations, news channels and Disney is set to launch an entertainment channel on it over the winter.
Sales of the boxes are closing in on the 2.5m mark, while there are a number of viewers who receive the service via their old ITV Digital box.
Andy Duncan, director of BBC marketing and communications, said: "We're exceptionally pleased with the news that the digital television market as a whole is growing steadily and that now half the population is set to have the full line-up of BBC channels."
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