Jordy's 800Mhz question
Jordy writes: I have some serious technical problems with what they're (Arqiva) are proposing, just wondering what others felt?
Get ready for another Digital Switchover as British TV viewers could face extra rounds of retuning their digital receivers to help create a pan-European space for mobile broadband and TV.
The plan, proposed today by Ofcom, could lead to fewer homes receiving the all six Freeview multiplexes instead of the basic three muxes, and restrict the chance of launching more Freeview multiplexes in future.
But it could mean some homes retuning at least three times - for Digital Switchover, for Freeview HD, and then for the 800MHz clearance.
The media regulator wants to clear the so-called 800MHz band along with other European countries so that mobile phone companies can provide new services.
The idea is that a single group of frequencies will make it cheaper to build networks and supply consumer equipment - as happened with the GSM and 3G networks used today.
"Aligning the spectrum would mean that manufacturers could produce equipment for a mass market at a lower unit cost and users could enjoy greater freedom," Ofcom says in Digital Dividend: clearing the 800MHz band.
"But clearing the band is not without costs. It involves short term costs as a result of moving DTT users and a longer term impact on the lower band of cleared spectrum, which is particularly suitable for additional DTT multiplexes."
Ofcom wants to move Freeview services out of UHF channels 61 and 62 to other parts of the spectrum, and plans to integrate this with the Digital Switchover programme where possible.
But many regions are likely to have made the switch by the time Ofcom can make firm plans, so they will have to face a second round of re-tuning their digital TV receivers.
Meanwhile, Freeview homes in Border, West Country, and Wales already face an extra round of retuning when Freeview HD arrives in next couple of years.
The 800MHz plan will also mean up to 10,000 homes requiring new TV aerials that wouldn't need them under the current plan for Digital Switchover.
Virgin has also warned that when services launch on 800MHz, it could cause interference problems for cheaper Freeview receivers and Virgin set-top boxes...
It would've been nice if proposals such as this had been foreseen a bit earlier. Then they could've been integrated into the switchover retuning process.
The switchover process itself has turned out quite messy some areas (think Waltham - 4 retunes/late COM power boost; Sandy Heath - 5 retunes etc. etc.). Then again, it has also been quite a drawn-out process - which means that some retunes have to be carried out just to free-up the next lot fo frequencies.
How long ago was switchover planned?? And what are the risks to STB's that are being talked about??
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Richard: The switchover has been in planning for about a decade. The original plan had it completed by now, but Tessa Jowell delayed it by two years for reasons that now seem in-obvious.
Remember that it is not just the UK that is effected by these changes, but requires a cross-Europe co-ordination.
It is annoying that people have to keep retuning, but it is much less fuss than some of the other options.
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