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Freeview better value for money than 4G, says industry body

Freeview is a much better value for money proposition than mobile broadband, argues industry body Digital UK. 

Digital UK, which represents the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and TV network provider Arqvia, has issued a report which expresses the value of Freeview in purely economic terms compared to mobile broadband. 

The report, The value of Digital Terrestrial Television in an era of increasing demand for spectrum, says that the average value per MHz of the airwaves given over to digital terrestrial TV is 50 times greater than that of mobile data. 

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Digital UK also estimates that the marginal value of mobile data per MHz of spectrum to be £0.19 billion, compared to the £0.47 billlion per MHz that digital TV represents. 

The report is issued as telecoms regulator Ofcom continues to plan for a proposed 5G spectrum auction which could see Freeview TV signals moving yet again

The launch of 4G on the 800MHz band of the airwaves required extensive retuning, testing and installation of signal filters, to prevent 4G from interfering with people’s TV reception. 

Ofcom is currently proposing that 5G is launched on the 700MHz band, which is currently used by Freeview. 

Digital UK’s report argues that the UK’s mobile networks already enjoy a greater slice of the airwaves than digital TV does, 560MHz compared to 256MHz and Freeview risks running out of space. 

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Jonathan Thompson, Chief Executive of Digital UK, said: “This report sheds new light on the value of DTT for viewers, the UK television sector and wider economy. With increasing demand for spectrum it is critical that DTT remains a strong proposition with the same coverage and range of channels viewers enjoy today.” 

Ofcom wants to have a 5G auction underway before 2018 and has previously asked the industry how this can be acheived. The regulator predicts that by 2030, demand for data will be 80 times higher than it is today and wants to ensure that capacity to meet that demand is there. 

5G standards have yet to be defined, so we don’t know for sure what kinds of speeds they’d deliver. We’ve seen the results of Samsung’s 1Gbps test on the 28GHz band, which suggests that ultrafast speeds will be available on the phones and tablets of the future. The opening of the University of Surrey’s 5G test bed in January 2015 should help define what shape 5G takes in the UK. 

Image: Docklandsboy/Flickr

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