Future of DTT


Digital TV through an aerial (Digital Terrestrial Television - DTT) looks set to be affected by radical changes in the next decade.

Some frequencies previously used for TV have now been reused for 4G mobile services.

With intense lobbying from the mobile phone operators, Ofcom proposes to remove Freeview digital terrestrial television services from further frequencies from 2018 to provide capacity for increased demand for data on the move, possibly for a future "5G" service.  This is known as 700 MHz clearance.

To ensure that all TV services could continue to broadcast on Freeview, but using less space on the airwaves, a switch to the newer DVB-T2 standard is being considered. This standard of broadcasting is already used for Freeview HD and provides more bandwidth compared to the current DVB-T standard.

To encourage uptake of DVB-T2 Freeview receivers, two additional temporary multiplexes are launching from 2014, which would broadcast extra HD channels, including extra BBC channels, using frequencies that won't be needed until 2018.

On this page, track the latest developments, read analysis of the changes and check out in simple terms what it might mean for you. 


The Ofcom proposals and licence award
Arqiva awarded licence to operate more Freeview HD multiplexes
July 2013 announcement, confirming that Arqiva would be allowed to operate two temporary multiplexes to encourage DVB-T2 equipment take-up. >

Ofcom outlines future plans for more HD channels on Freeview
Ofcom proposes to award licence to operate two temporary multiplexes using temporary frequencies until at least the end of 2018 - February 2013 announcement  >

Ofcom plans to use more TV frequencies to feed nation's appetite for data
A report about Ofcom's big announcement in November 2012. >


Extra HD channels on Freeview: the proposals and announcements
BBC launching five new HD channels
On the 16th July 2013, the BBC announced that all of its channels, except BBC Parliament, would launch in HD in 2014. >

Reference Guide: Where would the new Freeview HD channels be available and on which frequencies?
Map and table outlining Ofcom information published on the 6th February 2013 and updated 16/07/2013  >

Nearly two thirds of the UK population could get 10 extra Freeview HD channels
In February 2013, Ofcom indicated that if the two extra multiplexes were launched at 30 transmitter sites across the UK, they would reach around 65% of the UK population, and more if viewers pointed an aerial at an alternative transmitter >

BBC and Channel 4 propose more HD channels on Freeview
(November 2012) The BBC, Channel 4 and Arqiva have submitted a proposal to Ofcom that would allow them to launch up to two extra HD multiplexes using frequencies that would otherwise be dormant until 2018. >


Analysis
Technical analysis: The Shrinking TV Frequency Band
How use of the UHF band has changed, and will change further, as mobile services encroach. >

Objection! Multiplex operators slam Ofcom's proposals
Multiplex operators have slammed Ofcom's proposals, stating that they are not convinced of the case to clear frequencies given the forthcoming release of other frequencies that could be used for data. They are adamant that Freeview viewers shouldn't pay the bill for needed changes >

Local TV set to lose allocated frequencies in clearance project
Local TV channels would lose frequencies earmarked for their use within just a few years after they started broadcasting under the Ofcom proposals >

Beyond 2020: New technology
ITU agrees new HEVC standard
A new way of delivering video (pictures) on Freeview could enable the whole service to be transmitted in half of space - or allow for double the number of Freeview HD channels >

You and Your reception ...
Frequency Clearances: What does it mean for your Freeview reception?
 A quick roundup of the main points for technically conscious consumers >


From the archive ...
700 MHz clearance to have "more significant impact on viewers" than digital switchover (29th March 2012)
Arqiva's report from March on how Ofcom's proposals may reduce a mobile capacity crunch but cause a shortage of suitable frequencies for TV. >

OFCOM launches consultation on the future of the UHF TV frequency band (29th March 2012)
 Background on the consultation that led to Friday's Ofcom announcement and the reasons why it's being done. >

Analysis: Ofcom postpones 600 MHz digital TV auction as more frequencies are poised to be given over to mobile broadband (5th March 2012)Ofcom ditches original proposals whereby up to three extra digital TV multiplexes could launch in the 600 MHz spectrum vacated at switchover, because these frequencies would be needed if the 700 MHz band is sold off. >
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