In its draft work plan the regulator said it would hold the 600MHz auction in 2012-13. It said that one potential use would be to provide new TV services on digital-terrestrial TV. This might include new standard definition and HD channels on Freeview, or a completely new TV service. Another potential use of this spectrum would be the provision of enhanced wireless data services.
Ofcom will prioritise the planned 800MHz and 2.6GHz auction over the 600MHz auction, to avoid running the two auctions at the same time. However, in the event that there is a delay to the 800MHz and 2.6GHz auction, it may progress the 600MHz auction in the meantime.
Other TV-related plans include pressing ahead on work to implement a geolocation-based approach to enable white space access on a licence-exempt basis in the UHF TV band.
Ofcom will also begin the process of working on the renewal of public broadcaster Channel 4’s licence, set to expire at the end of 2014. Channel 4 has been given a substantially increased public service remit as a result of last year’s Digital Economy Act.
If the plan is approved by Parliament, Ofcom will also move forward with plans to license local TV services in the first half of the 2012-13 period. It envisages licensing a single multiplex operator which will deliver local television using geographically interleaved spectrum in a number of different locations, and subsequently moving forwards with licensing of individual services.
Other work for the 2012-13 period includes a review of the work of ATVOD, the regulatory watchdog set up to monitor video-on-demand services in the UK.