More disruption for TV viewers as Ofcom announces
it will hand over increased spectrum to mobile operators
Voice of the Listener & Viewer is disappointed by Ofcom’s announcement that it is to allocate the 700 MHz frequency currently used by digital terrestrial TV services, such as Freeview, to mobile broadband services. The VLV has been concerned about spectrum allocation for digital terrestrial TV services for some time because it fears that the interests of citizens and consumers, who enjoy watching television which is free at the point of access, will be disadvantaged by these proposed changes. They may face unforeseen costs and inconvenience in having to retune their television sets and in some cases they will have to buy new equipment.
Colin Browne, Chairman of VLV says, “The VLV is disappointed with this decision, which means further disruption for UK television viewers, most of whom receive their television services through digital terrestrial television. It is essential that broadcasters, multiplex operators and especially consumers do not have to bear any cost in relation to this change, which is being imposed on them and from which they gain no direct benefit.”
The VLV strongly urges the Government and OfCom to assure consumers that the cost to the public of this enforced conversion will be paid for either directly by the Treasury or, preferably, through the mobile network operators licence conditions. This would ensure that OfCom’s declared commitment to support digital terrestrial television is fulfilled.
VLV questions the data projections provided by the mobile network operators which have been challenged robustly by the EBU and INTELSAT. In light of this, we ask OfCom to place conditions on any licences given to mobile network operators so that they are held to account for their claims, because once DTT has been moved off this spectrum, there is no going back.
Looking ahead, it is vital to ensure that Government and Ofcom guarantee the remaining 500 and 600 MHz band frequencies for digital terrestrial television so that these bands are not also eroded by the insatiable appetite of the mobile network operators. We would like to see OfCom robustly defend that remaining spectrum for DTT at the World Radiocommunication Conference in November 2015, as it has promised in this statement, until at least 2030. We also expect that at WRC15 OfCom will require the mobile network operators to agree a 700 MHz band plan which is spectrally efficient and that its guard bands are put to good use.
VLV submitted evidence to Ofcom for its recent consultations on Proposals for the World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 and its consultation on the Future use of the 700 MHz band. These submissions are available at http://www.vlv.org.uk/information/consultations.html.
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