DCMS wants DTT and mobile spectrum users to ‘co-exist happily’

The UK government’s head of spectrum planning wants digital terrestrial TV and mobile platforms to reach a deal on sharing sub-700MHz frequencies without regulators getting involved.

Jane Humphreys, head of spectrum at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, said there’s no evidence that demand for terrestrial TV services will be the same as today in the 2030s or 2040s.

But Digital UK’s Alex Pumfrey told a Westminster eForum Keynote Seminar on the next steps for spectrum that DTT will maintain its importance in 20 years’ time despite the rise of IP-based TV.

Humphreys said: “If we could just come up with a solution that allowed audiovisual and mobile data service providers to co-exist happily, sharing common infrastructure, with a wide range of frequencies, with business able to innovate, without major intervention from either Ofcom or government.”

Pumfrey warned that around 100,000 homes will require new aerials if current plans go ahead to reshuffle digital terrestrial TV out of the 700MHz band later this decade, making room for mobile use.

It’s been a busy week for the spectrum usage debate, with a study commissioned by the BBC, Arqiva and the EBU declaring that the 460-862MHz or UHF band is four times greater for DTT than mobile operators.

The Aetha report says it would cost more than £30 billion to continue clearing DTT from UHF spectrum, but the potential value of mobile applications would be only £8 billion.

DTT is already set to be moved from the 700MHz band by the end of this decade across Europe, with mobile operators lobbying to share the 600MHz band with broadcasting in the 2020s.

The report said: “There is clearly no economic case for switching off existing DTT networks across Europe on the grounds of spectral efficiency.

“Mobile traffic forecasts – even the most optimistic – can no longer justify claims to more UHF spectrum for mobile networks.”

Mobile and wireless broadband operators in the UK are meanwhile set for further spectrum gains as communications regulator Ofcom announced an auction of spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands, in late 2015 or early 2016.

The 2.3GHz band is already used for 4G mobile broadband networks in 10 countries, outside Europe, including China, India and Australia, with support built into handsets including the Apple iPhone 5 and 6, HTC Desire and Samsung Galaxy.

The 3.4GHz band is currently used for wireless broadband in six countries including the UK, Canada and Spain.

Ofcom wants to release 190MHz of spectrum currently reserved for the Ministry of Defence, with a consultation on the proposed auction open until January 23, 2015.

DTG Staff  |  07.11.2014

Previous story  |  Next story