Feeds

Freeview to be nudged down to clear 5G bands in 2018

Until then, tons of room for HD telly and White Space

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Freeview will get bumped down the dial to make way for 5G networks around 2018, but in the meantime we'll get a bunch more HD TV and plenty of White Space to play in.

Ofcom has confirmed proposals, published in August, to shuffle Freeview down the dial and clear space at 700MHz for more next-next-generation wireless broadband services. But that's not going to happen for another five years, so in the meantime Freeview will be permitted to run a few extra multiplexes while the White Space crowd will get five more years to show what they can do.

The 600Mhz band is empty 'cos when the UK went digital it contracted the frequencies being used in both directions. That left a gap at the top - the 800MHz band to be auctioned off next year - and at the bottom - the 600MHz band no one wants. So unloved is 600MHz that in August Ofcom suggested shuffling Freeview down to release more space at the top for LTE services.

This would open up the 700MHz band, which is being used for 4G in the USA, notably supported by the New iPad, but is also being deployed in Africa and looks likely to spread elsewhere. But clearing it will mean retuning all the Freeview boxes, again, and replacing some roof-top aerials as the propagation characteristics change.

It will also have an impact on the work of DMSL, as Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited is tasked with spending £150m to mitigate against 4G signals (at 800MHz) interfering with Freeview (at 700MHz). Shuffle Freeview away and that problem disappears only to be replaced by the same thing only further down the dial, which might hit the same people, but equally might not.

UK terrestrial broadcasting is almost entirely handled by Arqiva, which was quick to comment on the proposals:

"While Arqiva welcomes Ofcom’s clear long-term commitment to ensuring a robust future for Freeview, Ofcom has yet to make the case for this change and the huge disruption that would be caused to TV viewers as a result."

Ofcom's justification is the oft-touted increase in demand for data, which is predicted to ramp up by 80 times before 2030. The problem with those predictions is that they're based on the "if current trends continue" model, the same one which says that by 2019 one in three of us will be working as an Elvis impersonator, but in reality the appetite for inferior renditions of The King tops out just like the demand for bandwidth will.

But Ofcom won't be swayed, so the question becomes what to do with the 600MHz band in the meantime. Back in August we suggested it should be thrown over to the White Space crowd to play with, on the grounds they they're a burgeoning industry in which the UK is a leader, and the database approach means they can move out at very short notice. Somewhat to our surprise Ofcom considered that, but decided to also stick a couple of national multiplexes in too so we can have some more Freeview channels even if they'll have to be switched off come 2018.

Ofcom's proposals (PDF, quite interesting but very long) aren't fixed yet, and there will need to be more details provided, but it's looking like we'll have another spectrum auction within a decade, and that terrestrial TV will again be shoved aside to make room for it. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?