UK comms regulator Ofcom has published a progress update on work to clear spectrum in the 700MHz band, to make it available for mobile broadband use.
In November 2014, Ofcom decided to make spectrum in the 700MHz band available for mobile data as soon as practicably possible. This involves clearing some of the spectrum currently used by Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and Programme Making and Special Events (PMSE) licensees. In October 2016, following consultation with stakeholders including Government, Ofcom confirmed that the programme should be completed by the second quarter of 2020.
Since confirming the timescales for the delivery of the 700MHz clearance work, it has reviewed the progress of the programme.
While the programme is a complex engineering project subject to risks that could potentially delay completion, the review has found that all workstreams are currently on track. The programme is therefore expected to be completed in 2020 as planned.
A similar process is being carried out across Europe, as spectrum is reassigned to meet a predicted increase in demand for mobile data. As a result, some Freeview channels will need to move to new frequencies. This process is known as 700MHz clearance.
Clearance of the 700MHz band began in 2017. Around 90 per cent of main transmitters will require some re-engineering for clearance. Almost all of the 1,000 smaller relays in the network are likely to need work also.