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Ofcom to free up digital TV spectrum to boost mobile internet

700MHz may be changed by 2022 as mobile needs multiply
Wed May 28 2014, 14:42
Mobile spectrum antenna

UK TELECOMS WATCHDOG Ofcom is considering freeing up the 700MHz frequency band currently used for digital television to make way for better mobile broadband serbices.

The 700MHz band was only recently taken over for digital television services as part of the 'digital switchover' that saw analogue TV services in the 800MHz band cleared. This band is now used for 4G services from O2, Vodafone and EE.

Ofcom said that it may need to move this again as mobile data use rises, although such a move would not be as complicated as the last frequency shift.

"Our analysis suggests that through more efficient frequency planning it would be possible to reconfigure the DTT network in the spectrum between 470-694MHz without materially affecting the coverage or channel mix that viewers currently enjoy," it said.

"This would not require another TV switchover (like the switch from analogue to digital TV) and could be accomplished without causing significant disruption to TV viewers."

Ofcom is keen to gain feedback on how the move could affect those in this space, and the benefits it would provide to the mobile market and consumers, as the future needs of mobile spectrum coverage and capacity need to be considered.

Ofcom estimates that the benefits of moving the 700MHz band to provide for mobile could provide an extra £900m to £1.3bn to the UK economy.

Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said the changes were a necessary consideration to ensure the UK could keep pace with the mobile revolution.

"Ofcom's role is to ensure the UK makes the best and most efficient use of its airwaves, which is vital to enable the UK's digital economy to meet consumers' needs," he said.

"Our plans will allow digital terrestrial TV to thrive, while ensuring the UK's mobile infrastructure can support consumer demand and economic growth."

Responses to the consultation can be made until 29 August 2014, online, by email or by postal submission. µ


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