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We may have spent the spare money from Digital Switchover Fund too soon!
Monday 02 April 2012 18:05:07 by Andrew Ferguson

Ofcom is consulting on long term changes to the radio spectrum below 1GHz, looking at timeframes of 2020 to 2030. Planning so far ahead is crucial, as decisions made in the next year or two will govern how devices like Freeview set top boxes are designed.

The concern is that both the USA and Asia-Pacific parts of the world are looking to assign the 700MHz band to mobile broadband. The 700MHz frequency represents an ideal band for mobile broadband as it gives good penetration into buildings and coverage is wider meaning less towers would be needed to cover a given area. Projections on mobile broadband usage show that the current spectrum available would struggle, and that is even allowing for handing off a lot of traffic to Wi-Fi and Femtocell's that people would hook up to their broadband at home.

The real unknown is how attached will we as a nation be towards our Public Service channels and Freeview transmissions in a few years. LoveFilm Instant and Netflix may already be changing a generations habits, and with other IPTV developments on the way like YouView we may see traditional TV viewing wither. The internet is far from an ideal medium for broadcasting live TV to millions, but the growth of multi-channel TV has meant that shows are ecstatic at viewing figures of 10 million, compared to the 20 to 25 million of a decade or two ago. With penetration of high bandwidth fibre deeper into the local loop, and better use of multi-cast there is no reason why a fibre rich local network cannot replicate what Freeview offers.

The current switchover from analogue to digital TV is just completing, it is unlikely that another switchover, perhaps requiring replacement set top boxes and possible aerial changes again will go down well.

Comments

Posted by herdwick over 5 years ago
Is there an EU position on this ? We developed GSM without the Yanks at 900 MHz so I wouldn't see their use of 700 as a big deal. They use 900 for broadband type applications.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
@herwick

"In Europe, Africa and the Middle East a resolution was passed at the 2012 World Radio Conference (WRC 12) paving the way to a decision to enable the 700 MHz band to be used for mobile broadband after the next World Radio Conference in 2015. A key driver for this was a strong desire by several African countries to launch LTE services in the 700 MHz band."

Extract from PDF
Posted by michaels_perry over 5 years ago
They have already purloined the UHF Band 5 above 800 MHz, TV Broadcast channels 62 to 69, that were available for digital TV. Now they want to purloin channels 50 and above, meaning that all DTTV has to be fitted into channels 21 to 49 (just 350 MHz bandwidth).
Posted by michaels_perry over 5 years ago
With more HD channels carrying far greater amounts of data, the currently available bandwidth (450 MHz) is already overcrowded leading to significant reception problems. Interference between signals will get worse, effects of temperature inversions will get worse (digital signals appear to be more prone to these atmospheric disturbances) so TV viewers will suffer again. Plus there will be yet more requirements for DTTV viewers to return yet again, probably several times.
Posted by michaels_perry over 5 years ago
That is already a huge issue with the current switch-over process and people are saying it was badly planned (the coding with 64QAM that is not recognised by some of the earlier 'Freeview Capable' TV sets has caused more issues as well!).
So this idea is, to me, a complete non-starter. We do NOT need to follow the US, we were once world leaders in TV but we are allowing ourselves to be misled.
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