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The Dutch ministry of economic affairs is holding a public consultation until the end of July on the future of free-to-air TV. The current DVB-T licences will expire January 31st 2017, and the government aims to decide in early 2015 what to do with the associated spectrum.
KPN operates DTT through subsidiary Digitenne, and the public broadcaster NPO also holds licences for DVB-T. Digitenne offers 29 TV channels and 23 radio stations. KPN offers the service under its own name as well as to wholesale customers. Analogue TV was ended in 2006.
The government wants to offer clarity to the market well before the 15-year licences expire, but noted there’s no decision yet on whether free-to-air TV is still needed. It could follow the international trend of devoting part of the UHF band, notably 700 MHz frequencies, to mobile broadband, reports Telecom Paper.
DVB-T in the Netherlands uses the UHF bands IV and V (470-790 MHz). International discussions are underway to designate the 700 MHz band (694-790 MHz) for mobile broadband. As a first step, the bands could be designated ‘co-primary’ for broadcast and telecommunications in June 2015, opening the way to issuing the spectrum to telecom operators.
If the 700MHz band is no longer available, two of the five national layers for DVB-T will disappear, reducing the number of channels from 29 to 19. A possible solution is to switch to DVB-T2, which would also require the replacement of reception equipment. Microphones and short-range equipment used for events may also be affected by interference.
The current consultation will lay the groundwork for a full policy consultation in the fourth quarter of this year. KPN has said already that it plans to continue to offer DTT through the end of its current licence.