DTG Summit: Freeview 700 MHz band for 4G very likely, BBC pay-Freeview not
Before I tell you about co-allocation, I think it is worth mentioning a few other things I learnt today. Please do see the see FITT report, which came out today Future of Innovation in Television Technology Taskforce.
Freesat FreetimeFirst, is that the rather amazing Freesat Freetime app for Apple devices is coming to Android at some point. This application once linked to your Freesat Personal Video Recorder box has all the features you might expect for finding TV programmes to record.
In addition, when you have content recorded on your box, the application shows you the details of the shows, and allows you to select and play the one you want. This makes it also as simple as Google Chromecast to pick and play TV content.
I have to say that I am very fond of Freesat Freetime: the interface is slick and simple and it "just works" and it is simple to access on-demand content: you can even step back though seven days of watchable content by just going left in the TV listings.
YouView, version 2I was pleased to see that the second version of the YouView box was actually usable. The first box, which I had obtained from BT, I found to be unresponsive and buggy. The old box took ages to wake up, the interface was slow. If the internet failed for some reason, you had to disconnect the Ethernet cable and reconnect it to alert the YouView box to the return of your ISP service.
The new box, which I got to use for a few minutes, was much faster and thus responded to key presses when you made them, not seconds later. However the box did manage to forget about the MHEG5 text services and so would not access Red Button when asked.
Freeview and BBC "subscriptions"In the session on Evolution of DTT, in the Q+A session that followed, I was able to ask Jonathan Thompson (CEO, Digital UK) about the migration planning for the BBC to become a subscription service, so that the Licence Fee could be replaced in January 2017.
The answer was that there are no plans in place to do this: Freeview is primarily a free-to-air platform and the stated policy is that it will remain that way.
Co-allocationYou may recall that I have been posting for quite some time about the (Ofcom channel bingo II - introducing the bands) change of use of about one third of the existing Freeview broadcast spectrum for use by 4G mobile broadband.
It appears that (athough Minsiter Ed Vaize was not draw to a final commitment) the working assumption is that this will happen shortly.
The actual process will require the Ofcom Consultation to come out in favour, this is then forwarded to the EU who will agree this at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15). It is the WRC who would agree to the "Co-allocation" of 698MHz to 786MHz (C49 to C60)
What Co-allocation means in practice: switchover IIIf the co-allocation plan goes though, then if you use Freeview you have a good chance that all you may have to do is perform another retune at some point.
If you Freeview and have a wideband aerial, then it is almost certain that all you will to do is retune. However if you have a "grouped" aerial, someone will probably have to pay for you to have it replaced.
The reason for this is that when transmitters were changed from analogue to digital care was taken to keep the transmission in the same aerial groups: the planners wanted households to keep their aerials.
However, this was not the most efficient use of the UHF channels. If the constraint of keeping transmitters in their same group is removed then 12 lots of 8MHz in the UHF band can be re-purposed for mobile broadband, whilst keeping the current PSB multiplex coverage.
The projections also suggest that the change to this new plan may reduce the coverage of the commercial multiplexes (COM4, COM5, COM6) by a small amount.
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