UK 'could gain £10bn from switchover'

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Ofcom has published its Digital Dividend Review for public consultation, which sets out proposals for the most effective use of the radio spectrum released by the switch to all-digital television broadcasting between 2008 and 2012.

Ofcom estimates that the benefit to the economy from the use of this spectrum is likely to be around £5bn-£10bn in total over 20 years. Ofcom makes it clear this is a different figure from that relating to any revenues to be raised for the Government from the auction of the spectrum. According to Ofcom, business activity that is largely dependent on radio spectrum contributes £37bn, or 3%, to the UK's GDP.

Ofcom has indicated that the new spectrum will be made available to any and all applications. In addition to TV services, Ofcom envisages mobile multimedia and video applications, wi-fi and public services applications.

But the regulator also adds: "Additional new uses are likely to emerge in the future as rapid innovation continues across the wireless sector."

The spectrum that will be released by digital switchover is in the UHF band in the frequencies 470-862 MHz. Transmissions in these bands cover large geographical areas with relatively few base stations, offering national network rollout at lower costs when compared to services delivered at higher frequencies which offer greater bandwidth but at shorter range.

The auction is scheduled for the end of 2008, subject to public consultation. The spectrum is to become available for re-use on a regional basis as digital switchover takes place on a phased rollout between 2008 and 2012.

Lovelace Consulting  |  19.12.2006

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