The UK telecom regulator Ofcom is planning to upgrade the country’s digital terrestrial television service to accommodate more channels and new services. The proposed upgrade will allow high definition television channels on freeview by 2009.
The spectrum in question would see up to 112 MHz in the ultra high frequency band, which equates to about 30% of the traditional TV airwaves.
Ofcom said that it wants to streamline the upgrade with the digital switchover of Granada television region, which is due in late 2009/early 2010. The new services would be available as a switchover across the rest of the UK by 2012. The regulator added that the digital terrestrial television (DTT) upgrade is expected to benefit the economy with revenues of approximately GBP4-6 billion over the next 25 years. Additionally, it will benefit the views and broadcasters through the availability of new channels and services.
The terrestrial television is broadcast on six multiplexes, which are blocks of transmission capacity that carry television channels. Ofcom would clear one of the three multiplexes used for public service broadcasting, which is multiplex B licensed by Ofcom to BBC free to view, and relocate the existing channels on this multiplex to use the spare capacity on other multiplexes.
Ofcom also said that the viewers who want to access the new services would need to buy a DTT set-top box or integrated television compatible with motion picture expert’s group version four (MPEG4) and digital video broadcasting-terrestrial (DVB-T2) standards. However, free view services would be accessible using the current equipment.
According to the regulator, as this capacity has been designated for public service broadcasting, it would first invite organizations with public service broadcaster status such as the BBC, the Channel 3, 4 and 5 licensees and S4C. It added that the proposals would be judged on three criteria: efficiency of spectrum use, contribution to public service broadcasting and contribution to the range and diversity of television services available on DTT.
In Europe, France has already passed a new TV law in January 2007, which allocates capacity for high-definition channels and requires high-definition tuners to be included in HD-ready TV sets. The French HD TV and mobile TV are likely to be introduced on the digital terrestrial TV platform between 2008 and 2011, which could result in the launch of up to four HD channels on DTT before end 2008.
Source: ComputerWire daily updates