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Monday, 30 April 2012

[Archive] 4G clearance retune: Wenvoe and Mendip viewers will need to retune Freeview in March 2013

Since this article was first published, Ofcom has announced that the programme to clear the waveband for 4G mobile broadband services has been accelerated. Wenvoe will now see changes taking place earlier than shown in this article. 

As the information below has been superceded by subsequent events, the following article is for reference only. See the 4G clearance retunes page for latest updates.

last updated 21:27

  • TV services make way for 4G broadband.
  • New timeframes announced across England and Wales.

Viewers either side of the Bristol Channel need to retune Freeview in March 2013, as 4G broadband claims TV frequencies, according to new data showing on the Digital UK trade database. The 800 MHz band being cleared for 4G includes UHF channels 61-68, which have been historically used for TV in the UK.

Mendip (Left) - West TV region; Wenvoe (Right) - Wales TV region
In addition, viewers in many other parts of the country will need to get retuning during 2013 as more exact timeframes for the retunes are announced.

Viewers receiving from the Wenvoe transmitter near Cardiff will need to retune to continue watching the Arqiva B (COM6) multiplex, which currently transmits services such as Film 4, ITV4, 4Music, Viva and Ideal World. The multiplex will move from UHF channel 49 to UHF channel 39. All other multiplexes remain on the same frequencies.

None of the digital TV services from Wenvoe actually transmit in the 800 MHz band, however the change at Wenvoe is co-ordinated with events at Mendip transmitter in Somerset, as the change will free up UHF channel 49 for the Mendip transmitter, which will need that frequency for the BBC-A (PSB1) multiplex, which will move from UHF channel 61 to 49.

In line with other currently known 4G clearance events, only the month of the change has been published. Digital UK will be confirming the exact retune dates closer to the time.

Retuning in this area proved to be tricky at switchover in 2010, as some viewers found themselves receiving the wrong regional/national versions of the main channels. Older receivers may struggle when the March 2013 retune occurs, but many modern Freeview HD devices allow viewers to select the correct nation/region, when a retune is required and the device detects services from different areas when it scans the frequency band.

The area around the Bristol Channel is the not the only area to see frequency changes next year. The 4G clearance retunes page has early information on retune details in 2013 for the Anglia, Central, Granada, Wales, West and Westcountry regions. 

Contrary to some reports stating otherwise, the UK cannot commence using 4G mobile broadband at the end of the switchover process. The original switchover plan saw UHF channels 31-40 and 63-68 being cleared at switchover Most of UHF channels 31-40 had the potential for use by more digital TV multiplexes, while UHF channels 63-68 were to be used by potential new mobile telecoms services. The outcome of this process being known as the digital dividend.

However by 2009, an international consensus had been reached to clear the entire 800 MHz band (UHF channels 61-68) for 4G mobile broadband. This resulted in the switchover plan having to be adjusted. With few exceptions (especially for regions switching over to digital late in the process), it was too late to change the frequency plan for the switchover as some regions had already switched. So a plan was devised to retrospectively move frequencies. Services on UHF channel 61 and 62 would in most cases move to UHF channels 49 and 50. Services on UHF channels 49 and 50 would move down to UHF channels 39 and 40, which were taken out of the other group of frequencies that were supposed to have been cleared.

The 4G clearance was able to be built in to switchovers at Black Hill (Central Scotland) and Sutton Coldfield (West Midlands) in 2011 and Crystal Palace (London) transmitter group in 2012 and generally across most other transmitter groups switching over in 2012, with the exception of Midhurst in West Sussex.

The retrospective adjustment in other regions is following a similar (but not identical) sequence taken by the original digital switchover, in that Wales and Border - regions that were first with the switchover are also the first to go through the retrospective 4G clearance retunes. Like a jigsaw, services are step by step being slotted into new frequencies in sequence. The parts of the process have to follow a certain order otherwise interference to another area's TV signals would happen if a clearance retune happened in one place before another area had moved TV services out of the way. The whole process is due to take under 18 months.

1 comment:

  1. This will no way be the last spectrum retune wave as the saleoff is a phased affair.

    Call it Phase II of the DSO after getting rid of Analogue (lining profit)

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