Ofcom proposes new DTT multiplex in 600MHz

Ofcom the super regulator that covers many operations including broadcasting and spectrum allocations is proposing to open up the 600MHz band for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) broadcasts. The 600MHz band is actually made up of frequencies from 550-606 MHz in 8MHz channels (known as channels 31 to 37). This band was cleared when the analogue transmission services were switched off.

The new DTT service will utilise DVB-T2 and MPEG4 which allows more spectral efficiencies than older DVB-T technology and MPEG4 compresses video more efficiently than MPEG2 which current non-DS DTT services use. Program making and special events (PMSE) services will still be allowed to reside in the band as will whitespace technology (this uses localised unused spectrum to offer wireless broadband/communication services).

Ofcom is acting in accordance with EU spectrum policy, whereby the current DTT services which operate in 700MHz should move to the 600MHz band and 700MHz will be used for wireless broadband services, though migration will not happen before 2018.

Thopugh this is a proactive mode for Ofcom, many set-top boxes built for DTT will not operate in 600MHz and new systems will have to be purchased.

Ofcom is proposing to make the license available immediately at a cost of £180,000 with a minimum period until 2018 but with a 12 month notice period so Ofcom can migrate current services into this band.

The consultation is available here and interested stakeholders may respond on-line.

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