UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has published plans ‘to safeguard the future of digital terrestrial TV while ensuring the UK can meet the growing demand for mobile broadband’. In launching a consultation on its proposals, the watchdog said that the challenge facing it is to carefully manage the limited supply of spectrum and ensure that all users have access to the appropriate amount. With a number of countries considering whether to use spectrum in the 700MHz band for mobile broadband, Ofcom noted that the band is currently used for digital terrestrial TV and wireless microphones in the UK. As such, is consulting on plans to change some of the frequencies that digital terrestrial TV services (such as Freeview) and wireless microphones use and make the 700MHz band available for mobile broadband by 2022, if not earlier. With the regulator keen to avoid another TV switchover, it had said it expects only a small minority of households (about 0.5%) will be required to change their roof-top aerial – and not before 2019 – in order to release 700MHz frequencies for mobile broadband use.
Commenting on the consultation, Ofcom’s chief executive Ed Richards, was cited as saying: ‘Ofcom’s role is to ensure the UK makes the best and most efficient use of its airwaves, which is vital to enable UK’s digital economy to meet consumers’ needs … Our plans will allow digital terrestrial TV to thrive, while ensuring the UK’s mobile infrastructure can support consumer demand and economic growth.’