Arqiva: 700 MHz clearance to have "more significant impact on viewers" than digital switchover

  •  30% of population may have to replace their TV aerials

As plans for the clearance of the 700 MHz band from 2018 gather apace - spurred on by recent developments in the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East where the 700 MHz part of the UHF spectrum, previously allocated to television is being reused for mobile broadband - broadcast infrastructure company Arqiva have produced an Ofcom commissioned report on the implications of a 700 MHz band clearance.

Arqiva admitted: 
Clearance of the 700 MHz band may also have a more significant impact on viewers than DSO and 800 MHz clearance.  Unlike DSO  and 800 MHz [4G] clearance, where channel changes were kept within existing receive aerial groups to minimise impact to viewers, clearance of the 700 MHz band will mean that 18 primary stations and over 300 relays will go out of group. Viewers of these stations,  up to  30% of the UK’s population, may have to replace their existing receive aerials.

In its report to Ofcom, Arqiva noted that it would be difficult to allocate suitable UHF broadcast channels for transmitters to broadcast the public service broadcasters BBC, ITV, C4 and C5 in the South East, notably Dover, without the "controversial" step of asking France to trade frequencies.

The report goes on to say that the channel to be used for Arqiva B (COM6) multiplex post-switchover was not ideal due to large amounts of incoming interference from neighbouring countries, which will produce worse coverage than the channel it replaces. Neither would any additional allocation in the 600 MHz band be ideal for the same reasons.

Transmitters such as Winter Hill would lose its existing allocations of channels, and co-ordination would need to be reached with the Republic of Ireland at numerous sites either side of the Irish Sea.

Mendip would risk having to be co-channelled with Sutton Coldfield. However this would clearly  create problems for some viewers in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, where alternative reception from Ridge Hill in Herefordshire was not an option, and there would be problems in certain atmospheric conditions due to co-channelling.

The report assumes that public service multiplexes will remain using the original DVB-T1 standard, apart from the Freeview HD multiplex, which already uses the new DVB-T2 standard launched late 2009 to the trade and from 2010 to consumers.

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  1. speeding up DVB-T2 would be a good idea so they can fit more into less space - sod any plans for extra HD and use for standard TV.

    sharing UHF channels thats anything not regional or local on a common frequency.

    regional/local on specific frequencies that not interfer or with Youview 'aviable via web' (press [colour] prompts*)

    * Freeview HD with BBC1 and ITV England regions (news and the rare 'local' public service broadcast) need an solution so Cable, DTT and Satellite there not exactly dozens of stream 90% of time the same

    Plan for an non DTT lineup by encourage Freesat, using Youview (and SmartTV platforms) and the web.

    Radioplayer app to cater with all radio stations that has an channel number (regardless of platform) plus anything else with an Ofcom licence)

    Ireland and Western Europe adopt similar so spectrum below 600mhz can be utilised to full.

    Adopt a plan ASAP that Pan European and a quick as possible switch as Europe like the ROTW need to harmonise 'soon better than later'

    Europe should know this with 4G/LTE and Ultrafast broadband from the likes of North America (LTE) and Asia (e.g. Japan and S Korea with Broadband)