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.