UK regulator Ofcom has outlined plans for an auction of the broadcast transmission spectrum that will be freed up by switching off the analogue TV signal in 2012.
The freed-up spectrum will be suitable for ultra-fast wireless broadband, mobile television, more digital terrestrial TV channels, local TV, wireless microphones and low-power applications developed from wi-fi. Ofcom has identified “one compelling case” where spectrum will be reserved to avoid the risk of “market failure” in an auction. In the programme-making and special events sector, which will use the spectrum primarily for wireless microphones, there will be a “beauty contest” over who will be awarded bandwidth.
The digital dividend auction, set for 2009, is expected to bring in only a tenth of the income of the 3G auction, which occurred during the height of the dotcom boom and left the mobile phone operators with expensive licences that they have struggled to make money from.