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Digital UK calls for move beyond ‘salami slicing’ DTT spectrum

Jonathan Thompson

Jonathan Thompson

Digital UK has called for a move beyond “salami slicing DTT spectrum”, after commissioning a new study on ultra high frequency (UHF) bandwidth use.

‘The defragmentation dividend’ white paper, conducted by telecoms specialists Aetha Consulting, explores the scope for a “fundamental rethink” of how UHF spectrum is used by mobile operators.

With the 700Mhz band in the UK due to be cleared and reallocated from terrestrial TV to mobile data services by 2020, the report suggests three high-level ‘defragmentation’ options for the 694-960MHz range.

One option is to increase the capacity available to mobile-based services whilst continuing to rely on Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) technology.

Another option marks a “significant departure from the status quo” by moving from FDD to a single Time Division Duplex (TDD) band.

The exclusive use of TDD would provide an additional 70% of downlink capacity to accommodate activities such as video streaming, according to the report.

In the middle is a “compromise solution” – ultimately transitioning to TDD but leaving certain existing uses untouched.

“The time has come to take a more strategic view and move beyond the approach of ‘salami slicing’ DTT spectrum to create capacity for mobile data,” said Digital UK CEO, Jonathan Thompson.

“Any further cuts to television airwaves are likely to lead to a lose-lose outcome that damages Freeview and creates even greater inefficiency.

“The proposals in this report offer the prospect of a win-win situation, which sees a major boost for mobile capacity while safeguarding the UK’s most widely used TV service.”

Digital UK supports digital terrestrial TV (DTT) in the UK, developing DTT strategy and working with broadcast partners and the wider industry. It also manages the Freeview electronic programme guide and led the development of the hybrid Freeview Play platform.

Digital UK is owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Arqiva.