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Should the UK close down the TV networks to allow for more mobile broadband?

Ofcom is wondering if Freeview is needed in the future, or can we close down the massively popular service to provide more 4G broadband. Freeview occupies 256MHz today, whilst mobile phone services have 560MHz. Digital UK has a report that suggests Freeview is good for the UK.

  Photograph:
Photograph:
published on UK Free TV

From the Digital UK Press Office today:

A new report published today reveals the major economic benefits that Freeview and other terrestrial TV services deliver to the UK.

The report shows that the country's most widely used platform returns nearly £80bn to the economy and challenges the view that mobile broadband delivers more value from airwaves than television.

The findings come at the start of a year when crucial decisions about the future of free-to-air TV will be made by policy makers in the UK and EU. Just over a year after digital switchover freed up capacity for 4G mobile broadband, a further shake-up of the airwaves is being considered to release more spectrum for the mobile market.

Commissioned by Digital UK, the report by media and telecoms consultancy Communications Chambers sets out for the first time the economic and social importance of digital terrestrial television (DTT) which delivers broadcast channels for both Freeview and YouView - and is watched in three-quarters of UK homes.

Headlines from the report include:

  • Evidence of DTT's vital role in supporting UK broadcasting, driving innovation and investment in programme-making while keeping consumer costs down
  • DTT provides nearly £80bn* to the UK - significantly more than previously estimated - and supports 15,000 jobs in broadcasting and independent production
  • New economic analysis showing that DTT delivers more value per unit of spectrum than mobile broadband (see notes)


As the largest free-to-air TV service, DTT creates healthy competition between platforms and ensures viewers can access public service channels without subscription Digital UK and its members (BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Arqiva) are urging government to ensure any further transfers of airwaves do not weaken Freeview and other terrestrial TV services, and that viewers should not suffer disruption or foot the bill for making the changes. In a joint letter accompanying the report, Tony Hall, BBC Director General, Adam Crozier, CEO of ITV, David Abraham, Channel 4 CEO and John Cresswell, CEO of Arqiva, stress the importance of terrestrial services such as Freeview in ensuring the UK remains a world leader in television.

Jonathan Thompson, Chief Executive of Digital UK, said: "This report sheds new light on the value of DTT for viewers, the UK television sector and wider economy. With increasing demand for spectrum it is critical that DTT remains a strong proposition with the same coverage and range of channels viewers enjoy today."

Copies of the report can be downloaded from The Value of Digital Terrestrial Television in an era of increasing demand for spectrum [PDF].

Notes

*£79.8bn, calculated on the basis of ten year "net present value" (NPV)

New economic analysis: The report estimates that the average value per MHz of spectrum for DTT is 50% higher than that for mobile data and that the marginal value (the unit value that might realistically be reallocated between DTT and mobile) may be even greater. The report estimates the marginal value of mobile data per MHz of spectrum to be £0.19bn compared to £0.47bn for DTT.

Help with Freeview, aerials?
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Comments
Sunday, 25 May 2014
MikeP
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

8:47 PM

EMP stands for Electro-Magnetic Pulse and is generally only produced by a nuclear explosion! If that happens, we hope it never does, then any electronic devices based on semiconductor technologies are at risk of failure although it seems that equipment using valves (I remember them well) are generally less prone to damage from EMP. That's why the Russian combat aircraft still use valves!

It seems to make no difference if you are considering digital or analogue, VHF, UHF or Ku band! The key appears to be the technology used in the equipment, and not just for radios or televisions! EMP has been shown to damage hospital equipment as well as computers, etc.

I'm not sure how relevant EMP is to these discussions?

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MikeP's 3,056 posts GB
Monday, 26 May 2014
S
Steve P
sentiment_satisfiedGold

8:00 PM

I think the context was of post apocalypse communications. Something we might die to regret having ignored.

Surely EMP must be of limited range? A few miles at most?

I recall MAKING valve based equipment. And removing the d/f part of an R1155 receiver - with my father saying it was so much easier to work on them without the ack ack.

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Steve P's 1,172 posts GB
Tuesday, 27 May 2014
M
michael
sentiment_satisfiedGold

10:42 PM

EMP is relevant in the wider discussion of the optimal mix of modes and platforms "for all seasons". Assuming no untoward event, digital modes offer the widest choice, although spoilt to some degree by the lack of consensus on standards. Entertainment favours high-bitrate digital or FM, information is most efficiently conveyed via analog. Considering widest outreach to the largest audience at lowest cost, traditional analog can maintain a strong case. Certain emerging nations know why they continue to invest in powerful shortwave transmitters, whilst others are targeting the minority with access to digital modes. Longwave, Mediumwave and Shortwave (LMS) can reach many millions with one transmitter, whereas VHF and UHF digital modes require a multiplicity of transmitters and complex maintenance structures. SHF by satellite has appeal, but this is mitigated by technical vulnerability and complexity. In times of crisis, analog LMS can be received by simple, cheap battery-powered radios. Even local events, such as flooding, storms etc limit reception by mains-dependent equipment. A Coronary Mass Ejection event (CME) is currently more likely than a human-devised device to cause EMP disruption, but either is conceivable. Recent solar research has highlighted the CME risk. A major EMP could wipe out most electronics over a very wide area. Even isolated high-tech circuit boards would be susceptible to destructive surges from EMP-induced radiation. If we consider how our economic structures would perform without our all-pervasive digital networks, the risk appears comparable to that of the cold-war era of managed probability. But if conflagration hadensued, the outcomes would have been unimaginable. In any crisis, whether local or major, information and communication become top priorities. Fair-weather transmission modes are supberb - until the weather turns less fair. The EMP issue is therefore relevant to the dilemma : which broadcast modes best meet all criteria in all seasons?


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michael's 857 posts GB
Wednesday, 28 May 2014
MikeP
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

12:04 PM

EMP is likely to be 'broadcast' over quite a wide area. If the 'source' is a nuclear explosion, it is possible for it to affect equipmenyt up to 50 miles away or more depending on the yield of the explosive device.
The Sun, a nuclear fusion reactor in effect, emits some EMP but at roughly 93 million miles distance little if any eaches us on Earth. A Corona Mass Ejection (not Coronary as that's relating to your heart!) is a well known phenomenon and does sometimes send pulses in the electromagnetic spectrum that we use and reaches Earth on some occasions. It does on rare instances cause communication problems but generally the energy is not sufficient to cause total disrruption at ground level - though satellites have to be 'hardened' against these effects.
Electronic equipment using valves is generaly little affected by EMP but printed circuit boards are potentially badly affected (high currents caused burn out the circuit connections), as are semiconductor devices such as transistors and integrated circuits. Valve equipment that is affected usually recovers fairly well providing it is not built on a PCB, so the 'old fashioned' hard wired system as were used prior to PCBs are much less prone to EMP disrruption.
Digital systems require more signal processing than analogue so nowadays only ever use semiconductor components mounted on PCBs - so are highly susceptible to EMP.

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MikeP's 3,056 posts GB
M
michael
sentiment_satisfiedGold

8:14 PM

mental typo - it should of course be "coronal mass ejection". But I probably have the typo version at times :-) I have a couple of steam-age wireless sets (sic), so in the event, I could still enjoy Radio Kim J Un etc...


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michael's 857 posts GB
Thursday, 29 May 2014
J
John Martin
sentiment_satisfiedSilver

3:40 PM

In the event I do not see many channels never mind freeview transmitting all the time as most of them will be dead or not very interested in Dave or repeats of fresh prince anymore LOL

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John Martin's 103 posts GB
M
MikeB
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

4:36 PM

John Martin: After a nuclear holocaust,watching Dave might finally seem like a good idea...

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB
Friday, 30 May 2014
J
John Martin
sentiment_satisfiedSilver

6:19 AM

Watching any of the shopping channels would be a waste of time unless they sell plenty of NBC suits and and body bags. Might also stop Sky calling me. I wish

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John Martin's 103 posts GB
Monday, 1 September 2014
A
Alan Grimes
7:37 AM

Having read this thread it seems like a good idea for Freeview, or a Freeview-like service, and the mobile phone companies (and anyone else?) to share the same signals, if they all want to broadcast the Freeview channels.

It's been said that this is being discussed for "5G", but what about the interim? So I have a question.....

From a technical, or technological, point of view, can the mobile phone companies add Freeview to current mobile phones?

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Alan Grimes's 19 posts GB
MikeP
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

9:15 PM

Alan Grimes
Current phone handsets do not have the tuner needed for Freeview reception. The TV signals are not currently available via the mobile networks.

There may be some capability to use the internet facility of the mobile phone to view services currently available via the internet - but at the expense of your data package.

Technically, I understand it is not impossible to design a mobile handset/tablet/etc that could receive Freeview services but the aerial system of such devices is possible not sensitive enough for even reasonable reception unless you are pretty close to a main transmitter. There would still be the need to have a TV Licence to watch live broadcasts unless the Government change the law. Your home TV Licence may or may not cover the mobile device.

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MikeP's 3,056 posts GB
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