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EBU study affirms industry position on preservation of spectrum

A study into the future use of radio spectrum – the finite resource essential to free-to-air TV access – concludes that its most valuable use for at least the next 15 years is digital terrestrial broadcasting (DTT).

The investigation by telecommunications consultancy Aetha of the ultra high frequency spectrum band within the EU was commissioned by industry organisations including the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Broadcast Networks Europe, Abertis Telecom, Arqiva, the BBC and TDF.

The UHF band (470 to 862MHz) is critical to the delivery of broadcast services, and is the only frequency range that can be used for TV broadcasting. 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.

Aetha’s analysis shows that the value of UHF spectrum is greater for DTT than mobile operators by a factor of four to one.

The report concludes that there is no case for a co-primary allocation of the band at next year’s World Radiocommunications Conference where regulators will review and, if necessary, revise the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum.

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.

EBU technical director Simon Fell said 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.

“In contrast,” said Fell, “mobile traffic forecasts – even the most optimistic – can no longer justify claims to more UHF spectrum for mobile networks. 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.”

Aetha’s study is available for download here.