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Digital UK urges Europe to ‘protect future of free TV’

Jonathan Thompson

Jonathan Thompson

Digital UK and members of the Wider Spectrum Group have urged EU policy makers to protect the airwaves used by Freeview and other European terrestrial services ahead of the WRC next month.

Digital UK Chief Executive Jonathan Thompson and other senior representatives of the broadcasting sector called on the EU to protect the future of free-to-air TV at a meeting in Brussels yesterday.

“Broadcasting remains a vital technology but is already using less and less spectrum to deliver more and more content for consumers – can the mobile sector say the same thing? There is also a big question as to which spectrum is best suited to new uses such as 5G, with all indications that the focus should be on higher frequencies,” said Thompson.

“The Lamy report offers us a win-win scenario delivering both room for mobile broadband to grow and protection for DTT. It provides a sensible, pragmatic solution with the time for a further review of spectrum use is 10-years’ time – let’s stop having the same endless debate.”

The Europe-wide reallocation of 700Mhz spectrum from broadcast to mobile broadband is due to be finalised at the World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC), with discussion also expected about the reallocation in the lower frequency bands of 470Mhz-694Mhz up.

In September 2014, Pascal Lamy, the European Commission’s chairman of the group on the future of the Ultra High Frequency spectrum, recommended in his Lamy report that the 700 MHz band (694-790 MHz) should be dedicated to wireless broadband across Europe by 2020 – give or take two years.

It also said that current use of the 470-694 MHz band should be safeguarded until 2030 to provide “regulatory security and stability for terrestrial broadcasters” with a review by 2025 to assess technology and market developments of the UHF spectrum.