Ofcom has set out its statement regarding continued access for PMSE equipment in the 700 MHz guard band (694-703 MHz), meaning that PMSE users can continue to access the spectrum beyond the 1st May 2020 deadline for 700 MHz clearance.
The decision to secure spectrum for PMSE equipment was welcomed by members of the DTG PMSE Implementation Group at the time of the consultation. Potentially it provides more capacity for delivery of PMSE events and live productions. Additionally, PMSE users may be able to continue using existing equipment which tunes to these frequencies and avoid incurring the costs of moving to alternative bands.
However, there were also concerns which were raised by the DTG’s PMSE Implementation Group:
As 694-703 MHz forms a guard band to protect DTT from interference from new mobile services and vice versa, the quality of the spectrum for PMSE applications may be poor due to the potential for LTE handsets using nearby frequencies. In addition, it will not be possible to assess the quality of the spectrum prior to an event or production as it will only become an issue when LTE handsets are in the proximity. As such, factoring the spectrum into PMSE planning may not be possible.
A related Ofcom consultation is currently considering compensation for PMSE users having to replace equipment that uses 700 MHz. A decision is yet to be made by Ofcom as to how todays statement affects the outcome of the compensation scheme, and whether equipment that is capable of operating in the 700 MHz guard band will be eligible for compensation.
Feedback from the DTG PMSE Implementation Group is that due to the uncertainties around using the band as highlighted above, users should have the option of getting compensation for PMSE equipment that uses 694-703 MHz.
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