Telcos mull spectrum auction for mobile TV

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Mobile operators BT, Vodafone and 02 are weighing up the opportunity of providing new communications services, including broadcast television to mobile devices, using spectrum due to be auctioned by media regulator Ofcom by March next year.

Launching a three-month consultation on its latest spectrum release, Ofcom said it intended to auction licences for frequencies between 1452MHz-1492MHz on a "technology and application-neutral basis". The licences—the lower 27.5 MHz of the 40MHz available could be made available as one or more packages, while the upper 12.5MHz will be awarded as a single spectrum block—will be tradable and last for an initial period of 15 years.

Ofcom said the spectrum—which is likely to be hotly contested—could be used for:

  • Mobile TV using technologies such as DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld) or DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting)
  • Broadband wireless access using technologies such as WiMAX
  • Satellite digital radio—Ofcom says the upper 12.5MHz of the 40MHz available could be used to deploy satellite digital radio using the S-DAB standard
  • Programme-making and special events—frequencies could be used to enable the use of wireless cameras at sporting and other events.

Ofcom will publish full plans of the spectrum auction following the consultation. Those plans will include details of the auction itself and mechanisms for spectrum trading.

BT told The Times it was "analysing the opportunity" while a spokesman for Vodafone told the newspaper: "We will take a look at this (spectrum) and potential commercial applications of it." O2 also confirmed an interest.

Lovelace Consulting  |  03.04.2006

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