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back to article EU eyes UHF spectrum: What do you think, biz bods... broadband?

The European Union has formed a new advisory group to work out what the future uses of the UHF spectrum band (470-790MHz) should be. And the list of representatives to the board reflects a more political than technical take on this, with company presidents and director generals listed rather than CTOs. The advisory group will be …

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Unhappy

It not about the Consumer. But Big Business and Regulator Income.

IPTV, Satellite or Cable can't replace Terrestrial, no matter what Ofcom and Comreg believe. They are complementary.

IPTV and Cable are essentially Pay TV (Broadband to support real IPTV is a lot more expensive).

People are watching more Discs and Internet because TV content is currently a lot poorer than it used to be. This partly because of the dilution of Multichannel TV and impact of PayTV. On Pay TV about 92% of viewing time is still the main free channels.

The people behind this want BBC, ITV, C4, RTE etc crippled, they want Terrestrial and ideally all FTA TV killed and the Regulators want to sell Spectrum Licences. Any service based on LTE Broadcast or some other Broadcast from Mobile Operators will be more expensive to consumer and give worse coverage than current DVB-T.

I supported the original Digital Dividend idea in late 1990s and early 2000s. But It was a mistake. More efficient use of 872 to 2600 Mobile bands would give consumers better service than tacking on 790 to 862MHz Digital Dividend (The only real dividend was Regulator Licence auctions). It has crippled expansion of Terrestrial Digital TV. The plan was originated before HD or growth of pay TV.

Satellite is a much much cheaper broadcast platform for a Broadcaster, especially Pay TV. But Foreign controlled, vulnerable to a "Burp" from the Sun and twice as expensive per TV for viewer to install. Not easily transportable or portable.

Cable TV is Pay TV, Not easily transportable or portable and only Urban/Suburban.

IPTV is 1000s of times more expensive than Broadcast if it was a mass viewing technology with true HD and able to support multiple TV sets.

We will soon have PVRs that can record ALL free channels on a 2 week rolling basis. Makes a nonsense of the running costs and national capital expenditure for Universal IPTV for mainstream viewing and "catch up" TV.

Comreg (Irish Regulator) already stated their aim is abolish all Broadcast. I'd bet Ofcom has the same aim.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It not about the Consumer. But Big Business and Regulator Income.

470-790MHz

Should be enough bandwidth for all the IPTV porn channels we need for the next few years....

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Bronze badge

Re: It not about the Consumer. But Big Business and Regulator Income.

I disagree. Terrestrial TV is OK (not great, but OK) if you happen to be within range of a full power main transmitter site, but it's awful otherwise.

When I moved in to my current house I thought I'd give terrestrial another chance (having up to that point lived in an area with no terrestrial coverage at all). What greeted me was frankly rubbish. The local relay transmitter only carries 3 multiplexes, meaning no ITV 4 (handy for BTCC) and at the time no film 4 and many other interesting channels.

So what did I do? Hooked a Freesat HD PVR to the leftover sky install and voila, a decent channel mix with fewer faults (local mast went faulty for a month before anyone bothered to fix it).

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Silver badge

Re: It not about the Consumer. But Big Business and Regulator Income.

Yes, I was wondering where the consumer representation was on this advisory board.

The only people on it are those who are likely to financially gain, and not those who will lose.

My household has Sky on one telly, and limited IPTV on two others (through consoles and BluRay players), and the other 5 rely on terrestrial TV.

Living in the sticks, where LTE and Fibre services have not yet reached, and where broadband is currently limited to ADSL 2+ Annex M, and even 3G and DAB services are very patchy, it is unlikely that IPTV for the whole household is realistic.

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Re: It not about the Consumer. But Big Business and Regulator Income.

"My household has Sky on one telly, and limited IPTV on two others (through consoles and BluRay players), and the other 5 rely on terrestrial TV."

So let me get this straight - your house has EIGHT televisions? Where do you live , a branch of Currys??

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Bronze badge
Devil

@A.C. -- Re: It not about the Consumer. But Big Business and Regulator Income.

Nuh, of course not. What happens when everyone demands SHDTV (4K), 3840x2160 and then FUHD (8K) 7680x4320? (After all, the pwn industry has always led tech innovation on the net.)

And heaven help the spectrum when QUHD (16K), 15360x8640 takes root (no pun intended).

Perhaps the spectrum will blush with embarrassment and that'll be the end of the matter.

>:-)

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Re: It not about the Consumer. But Big Business and Regulator Income.

"So let me get this straight - your house has EIGHT televisions? Where do you live , a branch of Currys??"

It's not that difficult to get a silly number of TVs in to a house:

Main living room TV

Kitchen TV

Bedroom TV x3 for the kids

Parents Bedroom TV

That's six without really trying.

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MJI
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Re: It not about the Consumer. But Big Business and Regulator Income.

I only have one working TV with five people.

But it probably cost the same as 8 ordinary TVs.

Small people happier with either I player (daughter) or gaming (sons)

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Re: It not about the Consumer. But Big Business and Regulator Income.

"It's not that difficult to get a silly number of TVs in to a house:"

I must be missing something here - why exactly do you need a TV in almost every room? Can't you go 5 minutes without watching it?

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Re: It not about the Consumer. But Big Business and Regulator Income.

Satellite is for the 1 to 2% that can't get Terrestrial.

The fact some get poor reception is no reason to deprive everyone else.

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Re: It not about the Consumer. But Big Business and Regulator Income.

"Satellite is for the 1 to 2% that can't get Terrestrial.

The fact some get poor reception is no reason to deprive everyone else."

Digital doesn't do "poor reception", it does "reception" or sod all.

Also, It's not 1 or 2% who can't get the full selection of multiplexes, it's 13% of households (OFCOM figures).

"Satellite is a much much cheaper broadcast platform for a Broadcaster, especially Pay TV. But Foreign controlled, vulnerable to a "Burp" from the Sun and twice as expensive per TV for viewer to install. Not easily transportable or portable."

Look at any Welsh rural village and you'll see a dish on every house. I doubt many bother to install an aerial on new builds any more as it won't get any use.

As for "portable", I've rarely, if ever seen a TV hooked up with a set top aerial since digital switchover due to Digital Terestrial's aversion to low signal strength.

And regarding the reliability of satellite, yes I sometimes lose reception for a while in heavy weather, but our local relay mast was on reduced power for a month last year, it took our local MP's intervention to get it sorted.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It not about the Consumer. But Big Business and Regulator Income.

"Satellite is for the 1 to 2% that can't get Terrestrial."

Erm, no. Terrestrial is for those few % that can't afford Satellite or Cable...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It not about the Consumer. But Big Business and Regulator Income.

"Erm, no. Terrestrial is for those few % that can't afford Satellite or Cable..."

Those few being the ones in work and earning the money to pay their own bills. Cue the old joke "What's grey and has a satellite TV dish on the side?"

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Less TV, more wifi

I don't care about TV.

All I know is we could do with better options for local networking in the real world. After a few weeks messing with dual band routers, I have successfully reinforced my prejudice that all wifi in the various low GHz frequencies is just different shades of shit.

I don't hold out a lot of hope. The physics tradeoffs are nasty, and the politics worse. Engineers have done a good job with garbage spectrum. I'd like to see what's possible with better quality raw materials.

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Re: Less TV, more wifi

"Engineers have done a good job with garbage spectrum"

There's nothing wrong with the 2.4 or 5Ghz wifi spectrum - its endless contention from your neighbours routers and the low max power that causes the problems, not your microwave oven. This won't change much if its moved to UHF. If you're really having problems with your wifi just use an ethernet cable.

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Bronze badge

Re: Less TV, more wifi

All swapping to UHF for domestic wifi will do is mean more interference over a wider area. I dobut they'll expand the number of channels to alleviate the real problem of 2.4 GHz

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All about the money

These big companies seem to think they have an automatic right to our spectrum, I don't like their meeting, I don't like them publicising their meeting, I don't think they are in any way qualified to give the faintest idea of a good use for this bandwidth.

The digital dividend was always a dream but clearly there are some expectations in the minds of those who thought digital switch over was a good idea, vastly expanded Freeview, and the killer app whitespace networking!!!!

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Silver badge

Re: All about the money

The Digital Dividend existed. The Regulators might not have got as much as they would have liked, but they DID get lots for auctioning the spectrum 790 MHz to 862 MHz formerly used by Analogue TV.

That was the real Digital Dividend. The consumer was lucky to get anything extra (HD, some more channels and real widescreen).

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falling standards at the Reg?

The plural of "director-general" is "directors-general".

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Re: falling standards at the Reg?

No - its power crazy bastards.

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Bronze badge
Unhappy

Spectrum Management anyone?

Pascal Lamy, former chief of the World Trade Organisation and European commissioner

So what would he know about spectrum management? Silly me, I forgot spectrum management doesn't count anymore, that's why the bean-counters and accountants.

P.S.: There was a time (and I can remember it) when such a person would be an RF/Spectrum Management engineer.

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Silver badge

Whenever I hear of UK terrestrial broadcasting I start to break out in tears

4/5th of your population can get more and better channels than even the luckiest people in Germany.

In Germany you are lucky to have any DVB-T reception at all, and even if you have it you'll likely be stuck with a bad selection of public TV which is about at the level of ITV. If you live in an area with more multiplexes you may get a few commercial stations. Something like BBC1 or BBC2 is unimaginable here.

What most people use here is satellite (which is forbidden in many apartment buildings) and cable (which is not much better than terrestrial TV).

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Bronze badge

Re: Whenever I hear of UK terrestrial broadcasting I start to break out in tears

But isn't cable penetration far higher in Germany than it is here? And you used to have (not sure it's still the case, though) a much stronger tradition of FTA satellite than we did. I know now you have things like Sky Deutschland trying to convince you that everything has to be pay, but for a long time places like Germany managed to do very well without satellite being centrally organised, a fixed EPG and so on.

In the Netherlands, cable penetration is over 90%; it's much much lower here.

To a pretty large degree, the UK has relied much more on terrestrial broadcasting in the past than a lot of other countries, notwithstanding Mr Murdoch's attempts to change that. The old analogue services covered most of the country very well, with lots of small relays, rather than the black spots that others countries put up with.

We only have 13% of households connected to cable, and I suspect actual reach of cable is not much over 50-60% (can't find the figures this morning); satellite has generally been associated with pay TV, and thanks in part to the BBC, we have a pretty strong tradition of free to air telly.

All that has helped shaped what we have today in terms of terrestrial services. Unfortunately, the spivs of the mobile industry want to grab some of that space for themselves; while coordinating spectrum at an EU level makes sense in many ways, it will be a shame (for consumers, though not big businesses) if the end result is to squeeze the terrestrial UK services so that they can only offer a small fraction of what is available now.

This squeeze is why, perhaps a little counterintuitively, we have just gained some extra HD channels; wider adoption of DVB-T2/H.264 kit will enable a later switch to that standard for SD, freeing up space for other uses.

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Gold badge

PLEASE!!!

Please, EU, I beseech you... you've been beat to it on the 700mhz band, don't split it up differently just to be different! Thank you very much.

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