The new proposals will make for the provision of three new Freeview multiplexes, which I have provisionally called com7, com8 and com9 for the purpose of showing something on UK Free TV:
The proposals now suggest that the seven frequencies (C31 to C37) are split into three networks: two multiple-frequency networks and a national single-frequency network on C36.
The post-switchover UK Freeview comprises of two types of service - the public service multiplexes which are broadcast from all main and relay transmitters, and the so-called commercial multiplexes that broadcast from 80 "main" masts:
Arqiva, providing a solution to Ofcom have come up with a method of simplifying the 80-transmitter network plan to allow just three frequencies to be used to provide a further national multiplex. This is done by a number of techniques which include merging some areas into small single-frequency networks, as well as reducing the power level and using the DVB-T2 transmission system.
The reduced network configuration looks like this:
This allows for almost all homes that currently have access to the current commercial multiplexes (ArqA, ArqB and SDN) to be served by the two multiplexes. In addition C36 is configured for a national signle-frequency network. The provided level of coverage is shown on these maps:
HD only broadcasting will neccessitate extra expenditure for new kit even for so called HD ready TVs and, as such, seems a virtual certainty for the future at some point. Just as a point of interest the Advertising Standards Authority believes that the term HD ready is perfectly acceptable as 'most people understand that they will need to purchase extra equipment'. This tends to fly in the face of newspaper reports of many people being disappointed when HD broadcasts could not be received on HD ready TVs during the last football World Cup, for instance.
Eddie Stacey: I held off buying a new TV, when I looked into it, I could see that the HD ready TV's were a 'mid range' stage, and in time, say a year, the 'real thing' would be out. The public were so ready to buy flat screen hi-res TV's, that they sold by the millions. Now we know better, with 1080p through my loft yagi, and four HD channels right now, it paid off for me, but many people did buy too early.
I saw a comment from an Ofcom board member at a recent conference, but there's now information on Ofcom's website: the 600 MHz auction is being postponed, probably indefinitely, while Ofcom work out what to do about making mobile phone services co-primary between 700 and 800 MHz, as agreed at the World Radio Conference last month.
Ofcom have now published an Arqiva planning study considering how we can clear the 700 MHz band: http://stakeholders.ofcom….pdf . It doesn't completely rule out trying to implement additional layers, but since doing so would basically involve replanning all of Europe, I think we can assume that this has been kicked into the long grass.