The "call for inputs" consultation seeks comments on Ofcom's approach as to when Freeview should be moved out of the way and on the work that can be done now to reduce or avoid disruption and costs to Freeview users, broadcasters and multiplex operators that would result from a change of use. The consultation also asks for comments on whether Ofcom has adopted the right measures to support the uptake of Freeview HD compatible DVB-T2 receivers.
In its summary of the consultation, the regulator confirmed its plans were at the mercy of future international agreements. It stated: "Any change of use of the 700 MHz band from broadcasting to mobile broadband services would need to be coordinated at an international level. Consequently, international developments will influence many aspects of the future of the 700 MHz band, including potentially the future use of the band, the timing of any release and the exact DTT band plan adopted by the UK. The need for new international agreements makes it likely that none of these changes will take place until 2018 at the earliest."
"We note that, at this stage, no final decisions have been taken at an international, EU or UK level that the 700 MHz band will be released for use for mobile broadband services. Our work to enable the harmonised release of this spectrum remains subject to, in particular, the international developments discussed in more detail in Section 3 and other factors, such as the expected continued increase in demand for mobile data services. Whilst Ofcom will be an active participant in the international processes, we cannot be sure of the outcomes at this point in time. We will continue to monitor and review developments in these areas as the work progresses."
Between now and 2018 at the earliest, a band of frequencies close to 600 MHz has been earmarked for temporary additional Freeview HD channels. If the 700 MHz band was reallocated to mobile broadband, current Freeview services would need to be moved down the frequency band replacing the temporary services. Ofcom recently consulted on the matter, and has confirmed that it will be making a decision shortly based on the responses to the consultation.
The consultation closes 5th July 2013.