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Been missing the Digital Switchover? Good news! There is going to be another

Ofcom have come down - as I rather thought they would - on the side of mobile broadband. So, if you have been missing all the retuning and occasional fitting of a new aerial, it looks like another round a Freeview changes is ahead.

Digit Al-be back?   Photograph: Digital UK
Digit Al-be back? Photograph: Digital UK
published on UK Free TV

I must admit that I have been occasionally called to task to when I posted here on UK Free TV some possible changes to the Freeview transmission frequencies for around 2018.    It does rather seem as if this warning was as accurate as it was well intentioned.

The "700" band.

Going back to the May 2012, I introduced Ofcom channel bingo II - introducing the bands

At DSO the "800MHz" band, the old C61-C69 was given over to 4G services.   At the moment, the "600MHz" band is used for the interim Freeview HD channels, and the "700MHz" for Freeview.

What the plans now approved by Ofcom commit to, is to removing the "700MHz" band – C49 to C60 and auctioning it to the 4G mobile broadband networks.

"These international developments are important because mobile spectrum needs to be used internationally to provide the economies of scale required to ensure a wide availability of devices at reasonable cost." … "EU states to  …  make the 700 MHz band available for mobile data use by  no later than 2022" [1]

 

 

What does this mean for the viewer?

In the end, it should mean more-or-less the same Freeview service for most homes. 

One thing is certain, and that is Ofcom "will not seek to ensure the continued delivery of the interim multiplex", so that will be the end of the extra Freeview HD services. 

Because there will be a need to provide the same TV services in less broadcast frequencies there may be some knock-on effects.  This MAY include moving the COM multiplexes to DVB-T2 transmission, so they will only work with Freeview HD boxes. 

The change in frequencies may also need some homes to change their aerials (to wideband, if they don't have them) and very tiny number may need the "4G" filters.

 

 

Timescales

Looking at the Arqiva indicative timescales [2]

It would seem that switchover events might take place in 2018.  

 

Will this be the last change?

"The report also recommended that the 470 MHz -694 MHz band continue to be reserved for terrestrial broadcasting and PMSE until 2030" so it could be that there will be more changes in the coming decade. 

 

 

What does this mean for the broadcasters?

The following diagram shows how the main Freeview masts operate.

The preferred plan that Ofcom has indicated is the Arqiva "Reduced Scope’ Solution (RSS) plan.

This will mean that some reduction in DTT power output levels will be acceptable whilst the services are moved to the reserve (in the sense of a "backup") outputs.  Whilst the reserve is in use the primary systems will be change to operate on the new frequency allocations.   

Once the national "clearance event" happens, the backup transmitters will be change to work on the new frequencies.  The obvious issue here is that the DTT system will be running without a backup – at least from some masts for some time.

Keeping the backup systems in place would require the provision of up to 21 temporary masts.  Given that the whole network of transmitters is still less than a decade old, it might be reasonable to think that the system will operate OK without the backups.  

 

[1] Ofcom  - Decision to make the 700 MHz band available for mobile data – statement - 19 November 2014

[2] 700MHz High Level Estimate Single Hop & PSB MFN/COM SFN Plans - Arqiva Limited, May 2014 



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Comments
Tuesday, 25 November 2014
R
rod
9:50 AM
Eyemouth

A good time to ensure that Freeview Lite is consigned to the dustbin and we ALL get a full set of channels!

link to this comment
rod's 7 posts GB
Briantist
sentiment_very_satisfiedOwner

10:33 AM

rod : Basically, that's not going to happen. Aside from the allocations issue, the tiny sites don't have the equipment to transmit anything else.

There is a solution for Freeview Light and it's called "Freesat".

link to this comment
Briantist's 38,846 posts US
Sunday, 30 November 2014
R
rob
sentiment_satisfiedSilver

12:03 PM

So tv channels are going to be squeezed more and more and last channels to play with what about future when UHD transmissions come out.. i can see SD channels being switched over to HD. but the onlu platform wont be affected is cable and satellite that might be the future of tv then the need of tv areials will die out?

link to this comment
rob's 170 posts GB
R
rob
sentiment_satisfiedSilver

12:04 PM

i mean less channels

link to this comment
rob's 170 posts GB
J
john Martin
4:48 PM

Not really bothered about more HD channels. I have a super duper 1080 telly. But only occasionally use the HD channels. Would just prefer more interesting channels and less shopping ones. I know adverts pay for most of what I see. But that is why I record most of what I watch except the news so I can jump over the adverts.

link to this comment
john Martin's 6 posts GB
M
MikeB
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

7:08 PM

john Martin: Given the choice, would you prefer to watch in SD or HD? HD. The changeover to DVB-T2 allows that to happen anyway, As for shopping channels, they help pay for Freeview, and amazingly, people seem to like them. I just avoid them, just like adverts, whenever I can. But TV hs to be paid for somehow.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB
Monday, 1 December 2014
R
Roger M
1:55 PM
Ormskirk

5G has already been announced and is expected to be operational, at least in Japan, for the next Olympics. A much higher frequency than the 800MHz band will be used for it. In which case it won't be too long before 4G becomes a legacy system.

What then for Freeview being able to return to channels 60-69 in due course?

link to this comment
Roger M's 16 posts GB
Briantist
sentiment_very_satisfiedOwner

2:00 PM

Roger M: I think you need to check your calendar, the Japan Olympics are 2020!

link to this comment
Briantist's 38,846 posts US
J
john Martin
2:17 PM

Give me SD if I had to choose. I have been looking at all these super new TVs 4k or what ever. Think I will stick with my little 40 inch one thank you. Glad I did,nt go with 3d either. But hey hope the rest of you are happy with your choices. Nice to still live in a society where we can pick or choose. Hate where everything is changed and you have no say in the matter. Hate how most of your shopping sizes have been reduced but you still pay the same or even more for it. How long before oil companies reduce the size of a litre so they can boost their profits even more?

link to this comment
john Martin's 6 posts GB
R
rob
sentiment_satisfiedSilver

8:09 PM

Would UHD or 4K be DVB T3?

link to this comment
rob's 170 posts GB
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