The UK’s telecoms regulator has launched a consultation on how to use 700Mhz spectrum for mobile broadband services.
Part of the 700MHz frequency band is currently used for digital terrestrial TV and wireless microphones – a sector called ‘programme making and special events’.
Countries across the world are now looking at whether to use the 700 MHz spectrum band for mobile broadband.
Therefore, Ofcom is consulting on proposals to change some of the frequencies that digital terrestrial TV services (such as Freeview) and wireless microphones use and make the 700 MHz band available for mobile broadband – by 2022, if not earlier.
Ofcom said that releasing the frequencies for mobile broadband would be achieved without the need for another TV switchover. For the vast majority of viewers, the move would require only a simple retune of their existing TV equipment.
A very small minority of households (about 0.5%) might need to change their roof-top aerials – although this would be unlikely before 2019.
Ofcom is already working with the programme making and special events (PMSE) sector to understand its future needs. If Ofcom’s proposals go ahead, it will ensure that enough quality, alternative spectrum is available for wireless microphones, and several potential bands have already been identified.
Ofcom has also set out its longer term strategy for enabling more spectrum to be freed up to meet the growing demand for mobile data. This builds on proposals announced earlier this year to release spectrum currently used by the Ministry of Defence.
Ed Richards, Ofcom’s Chief Executive, said: “Ofcom’s role is to ensure the UK makes the best and most efficient use of its airwaves, which is vital to enable UK’s digital economy to meet consumers’ needs.
“Our plans will allow digital terrestrial TV to thrive, while ensuring the UK’s mobile infrastructure can support consumer demand and economic growth. We also recognise the important role the PMSE sector plays in the cultural life of the nation.”
Ofcom’s plans for the potential release of the 700 MHz band, the Future of free to view TV and its Mobile data strategy statement are available on its website.