Ofcom Shifting TV Spectrum to Wireless Broadband

Doug Lung

U.K. telecommunications regulator Ofcom announced last week that it plans to reallocate 700 MHz spectrum currently used for broadcast DTV to wireless broadband.

“Within the coming months we will hold the UK’s largest ever auction of mobile spectrum for 4G, said Ed Richards, Ofcom’s chief executive. “However, that may not be enough to meet consumers’ future data demands, which is why we are already making significant efforts to prepare to go beyond 4G. Our plans are designed to avoid a ‘capacity crunch’, ensuring that the U.K.’s mobile infrastructure can continue to support the inescapable growth in consumer demand and economic growth more generally.”

Ofcom said its plans “also seek to ensure the long-term future of digital terrestrial TV (DTT), which performs an important role in providing low-cost, near universal access to the public service TV channels.”

Ofcom will achieve this by “ensuring alternative frequencies are available for DTT when the next generation of mobile broadband is introduced towards the end of the decade.” For the “vast majority of viewers” the change will be a “simple retune of existing TV equipment” but Ofcom said a small minority of consumers may need to change their roof-top aerials, likely sometime after 2018.

The Ofcom release includes a link to an assortment of coverage maps for many broadcast and mobile services.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.