Time running out on Ofcom consultation on the future use of Terrestrial TV frequencies
As part of the consultation process, Ofcom invited interested parties for the spare capacity to submit an "intention to apply". Arqiva, the BBC and Channel 4 are known to be interested in securing additional capacity for more HD channels.
The capacity is derived from the so-called 600 MHz band (550-606 MHz), which until digital switchover included the frequencies used by Channel 5 analogue in many parts of the UK. It is currently lying dormant. Its use will be temporary. Ofcom confirmed once again last week that it intends to pursue a course leading to the re-use of the 700 MHz band for mobile broadband services from the end of this decade.
This would result in the 600 MHz spectrum being required to house existing Freeview services. Until then, the temporary allocation of the frequency band for more Freeview HD channels would, it is hoped, increase consumer demand for Freeview HD equipment with in-built DVB-T2 tuners, which would speed up the process of switching all terrestrial broadcasts to DVB-T2.
A terrestrial TV multiplex using DVB-T2 has up to 40 Mbps capacity, as opposed to the current maximum of 27 Mbps. The increased capacity could allow the same amount of channels to be broadcast on Freeview on fewer frequencies - allowing Ofcom to proceed with selling of the 700 MHz band for non-TV usage.