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Ofcom awards licence to use 600 MHz band for Freeview
Tuesday 16 July 2013 10:10:13 by Andrew Ferguson

The shuffling of Freeview transmissions around the radio spectrum continues and today Ofcom has awarded the 600 MHz spectrum band (550 to 606 MHz) to Arqiva. The licence granted gives Arqiva the ability to use the band for DVB-T2/MPEG4 transmissions and runs until 2026, though to cope with any potential changes that harmonising the 700 MHz band for mobile broadband will create the licence can be revoked with a 24 month notice period.

It seems strange for Ofcom to grant this licence as the pressure from the mobile operators and the EU to create 700 MHz as a 4G band that works in all EU countries is not going to go away, so the reality is that Arqiva can really only plan to have the full band until 2018, but is expected to be available until 31st December 2018 at least.

"2.54 We anticipate that any 700 MHz clearance would be conducted through a rolling programme of retunes, with different transmitters retuning at different times. Based on previous experience (with DSO and with the clearance of 800 MHz spectrum for 4G mobile) we anticipate that fully cleared spectrum would be available for release 2-3 years after the first retune took place.

2.55 Even if the retuning process needed to start before the end of 2018, we believe we might only need access to 600 MHz frequencies in a few areas before that date. There are a number of DTT sites where frequency changes would be required to enable a 700 MHz clearance, but which are not part of the proposed DTT interim network. Frequency changes could potentially start at those sites first. This means there is likely to be some flexibility for a 700 MHz transition to begin alongside the operation of new interim multiplexes."

Ofcom on migration of services

For those using Freeview and older set-top boxes they may find they need to upgrade to newer hardware to receive the channels when they appear. There are minimum coverage targets included in this band allocation, namely that coverage will reach half of UK households within two years.


Posted by Pendlemac over 4 years ago
It appears from various news stories that the channels transmitted on these frequencies will all be HD ones.

They may not be bothered by the time limit as by 2018 it's likely that most viewers will have TV's or set-top boxes that are DVB-T2 compatible and the current MUXes could be switched to T2.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
I read the Ofcom stuff and while HD is likely, there seemed to be no confirmation the channels HAD to be HD.

But yes if used to HD supplements to existing channels then switching later will be easier.
Posted by ggremlin over 4 years ago
arqiva, are not freeview, these would be commercial multiplexes, and might have chargeable content.
dvbt2 is more spectrum efficient, but does require a dvbt2 (freeviewHD) style decoder, even for sd / data/ radio channels
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
I know arqiva are freeview, but for ease of understanding it is what most people will understand.
Posted by Chrismb over 4 years ago
Will existing Freeview HD tuners (in TVs/STBs) be compatible with 600MHz broadcasts?
Posted by ggremlin over 4 years ago
"Will existing Freeview HD tuners (in TVs/STBs) be compatible with 600MHz broadcasts?"
Posted by michaels_perry over 4 years ago
Arqiva only operate the COM services that are not available on small 'relay' transmitters. Not the PSB ones.
All DTTV receivers can tune to the channels between 34 and 39, the band being discussed here. These were used for the RF output of videos and DVD players and many are still in use!
The big problem is yet more troublesome retuning for Freeview viewers, they've had too many problems already this year! See for some discussions on this.
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