EBU survey reveals enduring value of DTT
| 04 November 2014
As digital terrestrial services fight for their lives against cable, satellite, over-the-top (OTT) and mobile alternatives, a study has identified DTT as the most valuable use of radio spectrum for at least the next 15 years.

The research of the ultra high frequency (UHF) spectrum band within the EU by strategic telecommunications consultancy Aetha — commissioned by leading industry organisations including the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Broadcast Networks Europe (BNE), Abertis Telecom, Arqiva, the BBC and TDF — found that the UHF band (470MHz to 862MHz) was critical to the delivery of broadcast services, and was the only frequency range that can be used for TV broadcasting.

Even though parts of the UHF band have already been freed up for mobile use, and there is increasing pressure from mobile operators to open the 700MHz band, the survey showed that the value of UHF spectrum is greater for DTT than mobile operators by a factor four to one. This was found to be the case even if the most aggressive mobile data forecasts for increased mobile traffic are realised.

Aetha argues that any loss of UHF would jeopardise the quality of TV services in Europe and undermine the case for future investment by DTT operators.

The EBU draws the conclusion that there is no case for a co-primary allocation of the band, and technical director Simon Fell says the study demonstrates the enormous economic value that the DTT platform brings to consumers across the EU and the critical role that UHF plays in the delivery of audio visual content. "Mobile traffic forecasts – even the most optimistic – can no longer justify claims to more UHF spectrum for mobile networks," Fell said. "We welcome the report and urge European administrations to reach the same conclusion, with a view to ensuring Europeans continue to have universal and free-to-air access to a broad range of TV and radio programmes and content, as well as other over-the-air services."

The study is available for download here.