Report highlights digital TV spectrum concerns

Freeview unthethered?

A report by Digital UK, the umbrella group for the UK's Freeview digital television stations comprising the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Arqiva, has highlighted concerns about the availability of broadcasting space on the radio frequency spectrum.

Ofcom is consulting on a plan to move Freeview from its current position in the 700MHz band of the radio spectrum to the 600MHz band, which was previously used by analogue TV stations. The plan would make the 700MHz range available to mobile phone providers, as is already the case in the US and Asia.

Whilst lower frequencies are better for broadcasting due to the ability of signals to pass through walls and obstructions more easily at that level, Freeview TV stations are reportedly concerned about losing out on the limited frequency range in future due to increased demand from mobile phone companies.

"Better value"

The report makes a number of assertions to demonstrate the value of digital terrestrial TV (DTT). As well as citing the production of "world-beating" TV content in the UK and noting that the, "economic benefits of DTT are considerable and higher than previously estimated," it argues that DTT is more valuable per unit of spectrum than mobile broadband.

With regards the rearrangement of spectrum space, a spokesman for Digital UK told the BBC: "We're sceptical that it's necessary. If it does happen we want it done in a well-planned way. And we don't think broadcasters or viewers should foot the bill."

A representative for one mobile phone company was reported as saying: "We would like more mobile spectrum, but we're not gagging for it."