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back to article Freeview to be nudged down to clear 5G bands in 2018

Freeview will get bumped down the dial to make way for 5G networks around 2018, but in the meantime we'll get a bunch more HD TV and plenty of White Space to play in. Ofcom has confirmed proposals, published in August, to shuffle Freeview down the dial and clear space at 700MHz for more next-next-generation wireless broadband …

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600Mhz is not empty

Channel 38 (606-614Mhz) is used for radio mics, monitors etc...

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in the spirit of LOHAN..

I think we need a new backronym for Ofcom, one that reflects their status as entirely beholden to the mobile industry. may I suggest:

office for commercial oligarchy management.

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Re: in the spirit of LOHAN..

Already sorted:

O£COM

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The master plan...

What they're no doubt hoping for is that we all get so bloody sick of digital terrestrial that we all buy Freesat boxes and they can switch the whole bloody thing off and sell off the bandwidth to some silly startup when the Web 3.0 bubble starts....

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Re: The master plan...

I bought a freesat box for 20 quid, new.

Plugged it into the sky dish and away it went.

Loads better than the badly-pixellated-when-trucks/vans/buses go past freeview (and Sandy Heath is clearly visible from where I live)

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Re: The master plan...

You don't even need a Freesat box, any old Sky box (flea market/car boot sale for a few £) will receive Freeview channels, though obviously you need a dish and have it pointed correctly.

Actually, at present Freeview via a telly aerial works fine if you have it mounted high enough and are in a decent reception area. But the Sky box solution looks like a safer bet for most people.

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Re: The master plan...

The free Sky line up is different from both Freeview and Freesat. In fact, I'm surprised they didn't get their arses sued off for trademark infringement when they called it "Freesat from Sky"....

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...he marched them up to the top of the hill

....and he marched them down again.

And when they were up they were up. And when they were down they were down.

And when they were only half way up, they were neither up nor down.

When will this madness stop ? They force everyone on to Freeview to free up frequencies for cellphones, then they put up 4G masts which screw up Freeview.

Now they plan to change Freeview again -- because ? It's all a monumental f*ckup and heads should roll.

Meanwhile, there's so little decent content and so much advertising on TV that many people I know have just quit watching at all.

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Tossers

absolute tossers.

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Re: Tossers

That's a terrible slur. Get it right:

Greedy tossers, absolutely greedy tossers.

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Not just the US band plan for mobile @ 700MHz, how about the APT band plan which long term has serious numbers behind it. Mexico only a couple of weeks ago went with the APT plan due to its potential number of subscribers and larger eco system over the US plan.

Also shifting Freeview in the UK to DVB-T2 long with MPEG4 coding would allow for greater density of services inside each multiplex and with at least 6 years to restack, there is a decent time to get services moving, align with the Africans - the other half of ITU region 1 and then join up with everyone else apart from those North Americans.

Now where is that tin foil hat icon??

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Will this be DVB-T2?

Given that we had to wait for analogue switch off to get the digital signals up to full power (because of co-channel interference) and that the available spectrum has been reduced, I'm presuming these are either going to be low-power multiplexes with limited coverage (like Freeview before switchover) or a Single Frequency Network (which I think would have to be DVB-T2). It would be good to have some additional bandwidth for the existing channels (the commercial channels in particular look like they're being broadcast through constantly-falling confetti), but I can't see anyone paying voluntarily for capacity with a reach that's limited either by geography or by receiving equipment.

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It's about time they grew a pair and just found a way to ftth the entire country. Then you all get decent tv and the govt can defray at least a significant amount of the civils cost with the revenue from the bandwidth auctions. If bandwidth requirements for mobile are going to increase (and it's not certain they will, but looking likely) isn't it better to bite the bullet and make one big change rather than pissing about with many small disruptive changes? Yes it costs money but you get better broadband, better tv (remember cable tv isn't ftth in most cases, its a copper last mile) and more space for mobile broadband. Not a perfect solution, but one with potential that they have talked about in the past.

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That sounds too sensible - don't expect the current crop of politicos to go for it! Been f**king up the country since at least Beeching!

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Unhappy

OFCOM Couldn't Forward Plan Xmas

I've had to replace my TV antenna because Digital Switch Over changed the UHF channels of the local TV transmitter - £150. To get a decent signal I couldn't have a wide-band antenna, the one supplied provides more gain but over a narrower range. OK I have a reasonably well paid job, and I do use mobile data, so the expence of having to pay again to have a new antenna fitted, if the new channels fall outside of the gain band of the current antenna, whilst not welcome is partly for my own benefit. But my parents and people of their age who are more likely to watch TV than to even send a text message, let alone use mobile data, will have to pay too. Who ever is responcible for this decision should hold their head in shame. There has been a significant lack of forward planning. They claim to have predictions for mobile data use in years to come. Going back to when TV Digital Switch Over was proposed, what where the predictions then, and why couldn't they see that their half baked proposals to free up the 600 MHz band would be so short-sighted? You begin to wonder if OFCOM isn't a job creation scheme for the antenna riggers of the UK.

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Re: OFCOM Couldn't Forward Plan Xmas

From Ofcom doc:

"The need for new international agreements makes it likely that none of these changes will

take place until 2018 at the earliest. We intend to prepare for these changes in advance,

working with relevant stakeholders, to reduce the disruption and cost of implementation."

So it seems that you are quite right when you say "There has been a significant lack of forward planning."

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I would happily get rid of the freeview box if there was a official online freeview service, we have TVcatchup at the moment but with the legal issues surrounding TVcatchup it could go off any day.

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Meh

Two new multiplexes for Freeview. Nice. Can we put useful channels on them please?

One suggestion - please make these DVB-T2 only, to encourage uptake of Freeview HD and eventual removal of all DVB multiplexes by 2020, moving to a mostly HD terrestrial service (I'll allow for SD shopping/music channels still, I might grant them at least 1mbit each over DVB-T2).

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MJI
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Why this losing of TV

We are already suffering from crap bitrates.

Can we just have 8 muxes at high bit rate please?

No Dave on Freesat so Freeview is needed

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Why this losing of TV

The temporary multiplexes will indeed by DVB-T2, and MPEG4, so should indeed push viewers in that direction.

Bill.

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Silver badge

What the flying fuck Ofcom?!?!

You constantly mess around with what channel goes where so I have to retune my TV every couple of months and now you want me to buy an entirely new one again? The executives at Ofcom should have their salaries put into a fund to buy the rest of us new tellies and ariels.

Is there any way for us to object to these proposals?

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Meh

Re: What the flying fuck Ofcom?!?!

Most likely there will still be DVB-T multiplexes (~24mbps each - QAM64) after 2018, as well as three or four DVB-T2 multiplexes (~40mbps each, QAM256). Your old TV that you haven't replaced by 2018 will still work, and it isn't like a DVB-T2 receiver won't be available for a tenner by then either.

Of course soon after that I would hope the DVB-T would be dead, simply so that we are making more efficient use of the limited terrestrial spectrum for multiple shopping channels trying to sell cranky looking exercise machines and knives.

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Bandwidth demand

Not quite sure why you thing demand for bandwidth will top out... new services are constantly being introduced which will use more and more data

My guess is that currently most people use very little data, and a small proportion of consumers use a great deal. It doesnt take much imagination to see that if the behaviour of those few consumers starts to become the norm (probably driven by price of mobile data dropping) there could be an order of magnitude increase in data being consumed.

Plus the usual growth from devices wanting HD video streams when perviously it was SD only etc

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I have no faith

How can we trust somebody to organise our TV channels when they can't even stick by a descision, freeview has already changed enough since inception and initial rollout. WIth frequencies changing more often than most people change mobile phones and standards changing.

So when they have issues selling some space and think hey lets fudge around with everybody on freeview again then I once again feel they have the organisational prowness of a muppet on a string.

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Missing Context

Next time you cover this topic, it would be useful to list the channel numbers involved as well as the frequencies. Back in the old days. locally, we had five analogue channels spread between 22 and 60, pretty much the full spectrum of the time. So I doubt anyone here will need new aerials to receive future Freeview.

Oh, there's a list on Wikipedia, and slight variations between the UK and the rest of Europe. 800MHz would cut off above Channel 61, 700MHz above Channel 49, while there are four or five channels below 500MHz

I can't see how reducing the range breaks any STB, other than what might happen if an STB tries to tune into some random signal from the non-TV services.

I would like a few years of stability but we keep being asked to re-tune as DVB channels get shifted around. Is this really likely to bring on anything more troublesome? I'd worry more about semi-competent aerial riggers talking up the work they would have to do.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Missing Context

I'll try to do that, thought the multiple ways people reference radio frequencies is one of my pet hates (referring to AWS, MW, UHF, et al just confused things).

In the UK the channel numbers start at 302MHz, and they're 8MHz wide, so Channel 22 starts at 478MHz (302 + 8*22).

Wikipedia adds four to that number, pointing to the middle of of the channel rather than the start, but the best list is on the JFMG site (https://www.jfmg.co.uk/Pages/freq/tvchannelfrequencies.htm).

The problem us some people who've bought new antennas to get digital signals, some of which won't go that low, but no-one knows how many or if it's going to be a big issue.

Bill.

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Joke

I for one welcome my new job opportunity as an Elvis impersonator.

Thank you very much

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Coat

Elvis has left the building.

<-- But he left this lovely sequin jacket behind.

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Anonymous Coward

If terrestrial bandwidth is so valuable...

... then can we please start by turning off all the shopping, gambling, porn and repeat gameshow channels? What a waste of bits (apart from the fact that they are ripping off vulnerable people).

Or at least move them all down to 600MHz for now. Anybody who cares can then use them as a test transmission to check their setup is ready for the 2018 switchover.

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Re: If terrestrial bandwidth is so valuable...

then what’s the real difference between 800 and 600 that means freeview has to shift?

As soon as the UK providers realise that they will have to charge global prices if foreign equipment works over here then the whole idea will be dropped.

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Re: If terrestrial bandwidth is so valuable...

Totally agree the poliforation of crap TV that came with Freeview/sat and the bandwidth reschuffle needs addressing. And to avoid doubt I not talking about empowering Broadcast Nazi's however here's the thing....

How much better off would we all be without the following for starters:

Ambulance chasing legal firms offering no cost personal injury claims support

PPI claims management firms

Commodities Brokers manipulating the prices of "life sustaining necessities" for huge personal profit at the cost of millions of lives around the world being lost

24/7 gambling sites

Impotent Governments seemingly powerless to control the behaviour of multi-nationals to ensure they pay their way in society.

Apologies Rant over.

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Silver badge

"The 600Mhz band is empty"

So why is Sutton Coldfield transmitting on 618,626,642,650,666&674Mhz right now? Waltham goes as low as 538Mhz btw!

Does OFCOM have a fscking clue about anything?

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Stop

700MHz

As usual, this isn't the full story.

There is an international agreement on the table to use 700MHz for emergency communications/disaster relief, such that all countries involved will have the same kit same standard, so in the event of the sh*t hitting the fan international agencies can go anywhere in the world have a network, or system (of sorts) that works and is interoperable. That won't take up the whole of 700MHz, but will no doubt take 2 x 10MHz chunks somewhere in the band.

The draft EU paper has been on the table for a while, and almost Ofcom-esque, Finland have announced that they will be using 700MHz for LTE.

Ofcom's shuffle of the deck to make DTV happen in the UK was a half hearted attempt, they never finished the job to defragment the spectrum, perhaps now they will. Had they done it right in the first place, there would either have been a large chunk in the 400/500MHz region (good for business radio), or 700/800MHz (good for LTE applications)

And finally to the gentleman that mentioned poor signals from Sandy Heath while he can see it - perhaps you have one of those boxes on the market that doesn't like strong signals. Living less than 1 mile away from there my original DVBT box was overloaded by the strength of the signal and required 18dB of attenuation to work. My young son has a Daewoo DTV/DVD combo that's the opposite and needs an aerial pointing at the mast to work, where my daughter's naff Tesco bought box will give a perfect picture with a screwdriver in the aerial socket!

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M7S
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Unhappy

Programming - A cynic writes

I'd be willing to bet that some content providers will start to screen things with a long story arc on the multiplexes that are due to be chopped, starting a year or two before termination, in order to encourage customers to then subscribe to their expensive paid service once the number of multiplexes is reduced.

It won't work for all of us as there are other ways to get content (e.g.: I've just started my boxed set of Lost) but for the average consumer it will be an irritation and additional expense.

From a hardware point of view I do wish the ITU would make OFCOM and other national bodies sort this out so that kit, especially portable kit, will work on a reasonably global basis. It would bring down the unit cost of domestic gear and make life easier for those of us travelling with devices (such as PMR440 vs FRS radios). I've no brief for or against Apple but the recent issue with their 4G claims on the iPad in Australia would have been avoided. At the same time they should specify that standards such as DAB+, DVB-T2* etc with backwards compatibility be required in all new kit allowed. Oh and something to solve the powerline/ethernet issue as well.

*as appropriate for the device's intended use. And I think we should retain FM/LW radio as well

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FAIL

Why???

The one thing that confuses me is why even bother with Freeview in the first place. Why instead of promoting freeview as the best option, just slap a satellite dish on everyone's roof and utilize freesat and then totally close the analogue spectrum to TV. This could have been done during the switchover and made things like 4G and potentially 5G much much easier to implement.

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Re: Why???

>> just slap a satellite dish on everyone's roof

Not everyone can get a line of sight to the satellites - in fact quite a lot of people can't. Actually, UHF is generally better in a lot of respects - easier to install and align the antenna, cabling is less sensitive to length (lower losses at the lower wavelengths), tuners are cheaper, and a real biggie - you can split the signal from a UHF TV aerial to multiple tuners, you cannot do that with the signal from a satellite dish*.

And to those saying it's no big deal if they move the muxes, sorry but I disagree. On the basis that our muxes are up around channel 60, and we were told that they are staying there, we bought a group C/D aerial when it was due for change. I'll be more than slightly annoyed if I have to get back up to it and replace it with a group A (or worse, a wideband) because they are p***ing around with the muxes yet again. Being on Winter Hill, we got more than our fair share of retuning during the switchover - some of you in other areas can be thankful that you've been spared probably a couple of retunes as some of the reshuffling happened before your switchover.

Of course, when the band starts filling up with other signals, the very last thing you want is a wideband TV aerial so it will pick up lots of these interfering signals and kill your TV reception by swamping/desensitising your TV tuner input.

And as for the complete and utter numpties who think that IP can sensibly replace broadcast TV, words fail me. Just think of the effective data rate available from one main transmitter. Eg, WInter Hill broadcasts to millions of people, and suppose they watch one SD mux each at an average of around 2Mbps. 1 million people switching to IP would require 2 Tbps, so the catchment area of Winter Hill would need tens of Tbps - and that's before we consider HD, and only for one main transmitter.

* You need a separate cable from the LNB to each tuner - so you end up with a lot of cables in a large house. For large numbers it's possible to use a Quatro LNB and a multiswitch - but that adds considerably to the system/installation costs.

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FAIL

Re: Why???

The point I was trying to make was that millions of pounds has been spent on promoting a service which will have far less longevity than the previous generation and/or alternatives i.e. satellite. It would also have freed up the space now being squeezed which will no doubt prove to be of detriment to the public in time. The government (and homeowners) spent a lot of money installing new aerials and set top boxes the last few years. Why not just bite the bullet and fit satellite (to the 98% of the population that can receive it) instead of having to pay twice in the future. By trying to solve one problem Ofcom created another. The sad thing is that in 15-18 years time there will be many more hundreds of millions of taxpayers pounds spent on promoting and providing fibre. So in conclusion, was everything spent on the digital switchover VALUE FOR MONEY. I don't think so.

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FAIL

Re-arrange these words to give a well-known phrase or saying.........

OFCOM brewery in piss-up not a could organize a

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