Spectrum auction to deliver new TV and wireless services

11.07 Europe/London, December 9, 2011 By Julian Clover

Spectrum management is expected to be a key plank of Ofcom’s plans for 2012. Publishing its Draft Work Programme for 2012/13, the regulator said the completion of digital switchover presented the opportunity to release significant amounts of spectrum below 1GHz.

Ofcom confirmed plans to auction off significant amounts of spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands. Services that currently use the frequency range – including digital terrestrial television – are being cleared to other bands and a consultation on auction regulations via secondary legislation is planned.
“The 600 MHz band represents valuable spectrum that is becoming available for release after completion of digital switchover in 2012,” sad Ofcom. “One potential use would be to provide new TV services that consumers could receive through a standard roof-top aerial. This might include new standard definition and high definition channels on Freeview, or a completely new TV service. Another potential use of this spectrum would be the provision of enhanced wireless data services, for example, the provision of services with better range than today’s Wi-Fi technology.”
Work with Digital UK and Arqiva will see broadcasters moved from channels 61 and 62 at the bottom of the 800 MHz band.
The possible impact of mobile broadband services on adjacent frequencies, which has caused consternation within the broadcast community is being assessed. There are plans to consult on arrangements to mitigate interference into existing digital television services from mobile broadband.
Consumer support is being planned for 2012/13, suggesting the regulator has recognised the existence of a problem.
A consultation is now underway that will lead to the publication of the Final Annual Plan statement for 2012/13 in April 2012.
In addition to the regulation of the postal service, Ofcom has also been given new responsibilities under the Digital Economy Act to address online copyright infringement and, in May 2011, Ofcom implemented the revised provisions of the European Framework for Electronic Communications.