Feeds

Ofcom woos theatricals and delays digital dividend

Bows to EU, shuffles Digi TV, buys off luvvies

The Power of One Infographic

UK regulator Ofcom has published a consultation on the harmonisation of 800MHz across Europe, and proposes shuffling the digital TV bands already in operation and finding a permanent home for wireless mics at channel 38, by paying off the luvvies.

Europe is hoping to make a chunk of spectrum at 800MHz available across the region, to take advantage of economies of scale; but in the UK we're already broadcasting digital TV in that space, not to mention our theatricals' profligate use of wireless microphones. So Ofcom suggests moving the offending DTV transmissions down the dial, and shifting wireless microphones down to channel 38 with luvvies compensated for the kit they've already bought.

Finland, Sweden, France and Switzerland have all decided to include 800MHz in their Digital Dividend bundle: 72MHz of spectrum starting at 790MHz, and it looks increasingly likely that the rest of Europe is going to do to the same. But the UK was an early mover towards DTV and has already allocated the lower end of that band for digital television, so Ofcom proposes clearing out of channels 61 and 62 and extending DTV transmissions down into channels 39 and 40 instead:

Spectrum shifting plan

Frequency = (channel * 8) + 303.25

The proposal also includes shifting wireless microphones from channel 69, where they currently hang out, down to channel 38 where there is still room for professional users to expand into the white space (as they currently do from channel 69). Ofcom reckons that move will cost the Programming Making and Special Events (PMSE) industry between £90m and £200m, and the regulator is prepared to reimburse companies that have already bought kit operating solely at channel 69.

Right now there are 1700 licences for wireless microphones at channel 69, though those are held by a relatively small number of companies.

Ofcom would really like to see the PMSE crowd moving to digital transmissions, but respects the views of professionals that the latency and quality of existing digital systems is not up to the mark - for the moment at least.

Channel 38 is only available because the Dutch use it for Radio Astronomy; wireless microphones in a theatre won't cross the channel, but DTV transmissions would, so channel 38 can't be used for anything most significant unless Ofcom can convince the Netherlanders to stop looking at the stars in that particularly frequency.

Those of us using Freeview or similar will need to retune our set-top boxes to allow for the shift, but Ofcom reckons we should be doing that every now and then anyway, so the impact will be small.

All this chopping and changing will delay the whole Digital Dividend sell-off, so it will be 2010 before anyone gets to bid on a chunk of the spectrum formally used to transmit analogue TV signals. That delay makes the schedule fit well with the proposed switch-off of analogue TV in 2012, by which point the Olympics (a huge consumer of radio spectrum) will also be over, and with a bit of luck the economy will be in a state that allows companies to make long-term investments on an uncertain technology.

The consultation closes on 20 April. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee
But there's a flaw in Google's IP-based IoT system
Orange spent weekend spamming customers with TXTs
Zero, not infinity, is the Magic Number customers want
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
NBN Co execs: No FTTN product until 2015
Faster? Not yet. Cheaper? No data
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.