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Ofcom channel bingo II - introducing the bands

A second look at how the long-term use of the broadcast frequencies used to provide Freeview may chance over the coming years.

A second look at how the long-term use of the broadcast frequen
published on UK Free TV

Following on from Freeview 2020 vs 4G mobile - play Ofcom channel bingo, that discussed the recent history of allocations in the UHF "television band", we now look to the future.

Ofcom, for the purposes of discussion, has named three sets of channels as

  • the "600MHz band" - C31 to C37, 554MHz to 602MHz
  • the "700MHz band" - C49 to C60, 698MHz to 786MHz
  • the "800MHz band" - C61 to C69, 794MHz to 858MHz

As shown on this "bingo card":

800MHz band

Verizon Wireless:The 800MHz band of channels has already been allocated by Ofcom for mobile broadband using the "LTE" (Long Term Evolution) telecommunication standard. This means, of course, that there will be no more Freeview services being provided on these frequencies, and also means, for some homes will have to install free "filters" to stop the 4G transmitters blocking out Freeview - see Ofcom moves to protect Freeview interference from 4G mobile devices -

However, whilst Ofcom has allocated the frequencies, the actual auction to sell them to telephone companies has been stopped pending legal arguments, so the start date for these services in 2013 may continue to optimisitic.

700MHz band

The channels in the 700MHz band are allocated currently to Freeview services, but the use of these frequencies in the largest 4G market, the USA (for Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility) has prompted Ofcom to discuss if these channels could also be used in the UK in the future for 4G.

Ofcom has asked Arqiva (see 700 MHz Clearance Planning Options Based on Existing Usage - Study by Arqiva) to see if Freeview could continue to be provided with the removal of the 700MHz band.

At digital switchover, for simplicity to the consumer, transmitters kept the three PSB multiplexes in the "correct" aerial group. This provided for a straightforward switchover, but has required allocation of frequency resources that was not optimal.

The Arqiva planning document looked at three possibilities.

The first is to use the "600MHz band" range for just the three COM Freeview multiplexes using the "extended services" plan (two MFN, one SFN), and to replan all the transmitters so that the 12 channels in the "700MHz band" be deallocated.

The second was to use the initial plan, but to add to it the reuse of some of the gaps in the PSB multiplex plan to extend the COM coverage.

The third plan has the three COM multiplexes recreated on C22, C25 and C28 as SFN (single frequency networks), with the "600MHz band" added to the existing frequencies, minus the "700MHz band" to recreate the PSB three multiplex coverage.

The first plan would keep the PSB coverage, but reduce the COM coverage by 9.6%, 11.6% and 2.5%. The second plan has the same PSB coverage, but 2.5%, 2.5% and 4.2% loss of COMs, and the final one COM loss is 0.9%, 0.6% and 1.3%.

600MHz band

The plans for this band are discussed on the More Freeview capacity - COM7, COM8 and COM9 - in the 600MHz band page.

Tomorrow - part three looks at how technological improvements to digital television systems - may provide more with less, see Ofcom Bingo III - compatibility or improvements? - - independent free digital TV advice.

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In this section
Ofcom announces 700 MHz clearance schedule 2017-201
When will I get a new Freeview aerial because of even more mobile broadband? 2
Do not forget that 4G starting soon in 20 cities and towns really soon3
Using UHF channels C61 to C69? Time to retune4
Two final Freeview retunes in Scotland on 24 and 31 July 20135
800MHz band cleared by Digital UK - ready for nationwide 4G use6

Sunday, 13 May 2012
David Jackson
9:36 PM

It does seem silly that we could be heading down the road of incompatibility re 700Mhz/4G. We went thru all this rubbish about standard interfaces with RS232; don't people ever learn?
If US have got there first and settled the broadcast frequencies, then surely , while changing everything around ourselves, does it not make sense to adopt same specification?? I read somewhere that Apple have run into trouble selling iPad with 4G in Australia because it does not work with Australian system;need I say more??

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David Jackson's 7 posts GB flag
Monday, 14 May 2012

12:33 PM

With this sort of cutting up of the band I would suspect that the long term aim is to eliminate terrestrial TV altogether. Even with "lite only" repeater stations it will become more difficult to allocate Muxes, and with "HD" likely to become the norm, then there won't be room.
Receiver desensing is going to more of a problem in fringe areas, with 4G signals swamping amplifiers. It's a recipe for a long term decline of a universal service.

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Andy's 32 posts GB flag

7:01 PM

Andy: Is HD likely to become the norm? What about standard definition, DVB-T2? This allows for the greatest number of channels to be fitted into each mux, which is what the mux owners are interested in. HD is likely to be a subscription based service for those who particularly want it. The German TV channels seem to be going down that road too. A few years ago it was thought that stereo radio was the future. It is now not unusual to see radio stations opting for mono transmission on DAB in order to fit in more stations, and reduce transmission costs.

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KMJ,Derby's 1,811 posts GB flag
Friday, 23 November 2012
Coco the clown
10:05 PM

Where is common sense? Why could they not take it into GHz?
I'm not a expert in aerials, but I thought higher frequencey the smaller aerial needed? Plus higher frequencys travel better in air? Am I right:/

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Coco the clown's 1 post GB flag
Coco's: mapC's Freeview map terrainC's terrain plot wavesC's frequency data C's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Wednesday, 10 April 2013
David Robbins
3:47 AM
Chester Le Street

Why do they have to sell off part of the UHF spectrum to mobile phone operators?

Couldn't they have used the unused VHF band for mobile phones?(VHF is unused isn't it?)

Wasn't one of the reasons why they wanted to switch off the analogue transmissions to stop interference?

Am receiving Pontop Pike. With the two new muxes coming soon which are C33 and C34 that means for a lot of people here a change of aerial. A lot of people here still have a C/D band aerial, upgrading to a wideband aerial wasn't needed as all channels were in between C48 and C68. This is an unneeded expense that a lot of people can't afford. Who's got £100 spare up here these days?

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David Robbins's 20 posts GB flag
David's: mapD's Freeview map terrainD's terrain plot wavesD's frequency data D's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Saturday, 8 June 2013
7:51 PM

David Robbins, FM and DAB use the VHF spectrum i don't know who/what uses the HF band in-between MW and FM though.

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Jade's 14 posts GB flag
Jade's: mapJ's Freeview map terrainJ's terrain plot wavesJ's frequency data J's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Sunday, 7 July 2013
11:25 AM

I live in the old town with a high gain broadband arial on the HASTINGS transmitter (NOT OLD TOWN TX)- recently I have lost all chanels between ch29 to ch69 including 5USA - tried retuning on a sunny day and cold rainy day but no difference - why have I lost so many channels ?? - down to 38 channels in total !! - any ideas please would be helpful - thanks

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Cliff's 1 post SE flag
Cliff's: mapC's Freeview map terrainC's terrain plot wavesC's frequency data C's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Friday, 26 January 2018
Nev Jack
7:40 PM

I use the winter hill tx.this is,(was), a group c/d. now we have muxes on Ch 31/37! Soon these will be on group a, I think in 2020? This will be unecessary expense for hundreds of folk for new aerials,100s of pounds. All because of a money greedy government! When are we to be considered?
Regards Nev jack,Crewe.

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Nev Jack's 6 posts GB flag

10:22 PM

Nev Jack: Aerials have a limited working life anyway, so most will have been replaced by natural wastage.And if you cannot pick up a signal with your old aerial, I understand there is a scheme to help you.

Besides, if you have a mobile phone, you need bandwidth, and that has to come from somewhere. And we all have mobile phones....

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB flag

11:32 PM

Nev Jack:

Further to that said by MikeB, the government have no say in these frequency changes at all. If you want more bandwidth for mobile signals the transmitter operator has to change the usage of several chennels to free up the frequencies above 700 MHz, meaning many of the TV signals have to be moved to make room for the 4G or future 5G signal usage.

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MikeP's 3,056 posts GB flag
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