Freeview retunes mean that the airwaves will be clear for the mass take off of 4G later this summer, five months ahead of schedule.
Digital UK, which organised the clearance, has announced that on Wednesday July 31 the last few parts of the UK will retune. The final engineering works will take place in the north east of Scotland and the Western Isles.
Sir David Scott, Chief Executive of Digital UK, said: “Thanks to our experiences from switchover and the tremendous work of engineers at Arqiva, clearance will be completed ahead of schedule and has seen minimal disruption to viewers.
Read Recombu Digital’s guide to the 4G Freeview Fail“From the end of this month airwaves will be clear for more mobile operators to deliver super-fast mobile broadband across the UK.”
Taking a break from whipping local councils into line over BDUK, culture secretary Maria Miller added: “Delivering 4G quickly is a key part of the Government’s plans to equip the UK to succeed in the global race.
“Completing the clearance of the 800MHz band means mobile companies can roll out their services across the UK and help deliver the £2-3 billion a year boost to the UK economy we anticipate from 4G.”
The 800MHz band is controversial as it is close to the 700MHz band, currently used to carry digital terrestrial signals. It was once thought that 4G would wipe out Freeview for millions of customers but extensive tests have shown that this is not the case. The UK’s mobile networks pooled together to fund the creation of At800.tv, the group which conducts live trials of 4G signal interference.
As well as getting everyone using Freeview and other digital terrestrial-based products (YouView, BT Vision, TalkTalk TV) to retune five months early, Digital UK has done the job under budget.
The budget allocated to Digital UK for management and customer support was £11.2 million of which just £6 million was spent. The unspent cash will go back to government, where it will be spent on duck moats, wind farms and expensive railways that nobody wants.