Overwhelming worldwide support for terrestrial TV to keep its frequencies

There's overwhelming support to keep the remaining frequencies for terrestrial television services such as Freeview, after a majority of countries said they supported a 'no change' position at the World Radiocommunication Conference currently taking place in Geneva.

European and African countries, who prior to the decision-making conference said they wanted the status quo to remain in place, have been joined by Arab States, the countries of the former USSR and nations in the Asia-Pacific region in supporting the continued use of the remaining frequencies for non-mobile network services.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) reported today that 14 countries in South America have now also supported the ongoing use of the frequencies for TV. This leaves North America at odds with most of the rest of the world.

The TV frequencies in question, 470-694MHz (UHF channels 21-48), are also used by radio microphones.

Until mid-2013, terrestrial TV services were able to broadcast on frequencies in the 800MHz band, before they were handed over to 4G mobile network operators. At the end of the decade, the 700MHz band will go the same way. Broadcasters have been lobbying to stop more frequencies going to mobile networks. Already, changes to the 700MHz band are forcing changes to terrestrial TV services across Europe in the coming years, as services adopt newer, more bandwidth-efficient methods of transmission.

In Germany, terrestrial TV is moving to the newer DVB-T2 standard, used alongside the HEVC video standard, with a new hybrid service consisting of free-to-air public service channels and pay TV commercial channels. In France, terrestrial TV is adopting the MPEG4 video standard from next year. In the UK, Freeview is expected to become a DVB-T2 service with many frequency changes to come - but unlike other countries, no exact details have yet been published.

The EBU said that it and its sister organisations argue that decisions made in Geneva should reflect that "95% of audiovisual content is delivered over broadcast networks and Wi-Fi, rather than mobile networks."

With a final decision yet to be confirmed, Simon Fell, EBU Director of Technology and Innovation came out fighting, saying:
"Contrary to what the mobile lobby would have us believe, terrestrial TV is the most popular TV platform in Europe and in many other regions of the world. It also continues to deliver substantial social and economic value, in particular by providing free-to-air services and facilitating innovation."It is a positive sign that most national administrations at the WRC-15 recognise this point. We urge them to hold their ground against a small minority that is looking to impose its views on the rest of the world"

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  1. There's a reason the USA disagrees with the rest of the world on this. The USA has very little broadcast TV, many only single transmitter local stations. And some of that is broadcast on VHF. So they don't see any need for much of the UHF spectrum to be used for TV, and a lot of this spectrum in the US is unused.

    1. Unfortunately, the US stance on selling off frequencies hasn't been very consumer-friendly
      Good news for the powerful cable TV companies, though.

    2. I think the phone companies just want more frequencies just as a cash cow for their shareholders.


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