600 MHz and geographic interleaved spectrum - Summary of responses to consultation on potential uses and next steps

22 October 2010


1.1 The 600 MHz band and geographic interleaved spectrum are part of the UK's digital dividend that will be freed up for new uses with the switchover from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT) that is due to be completed in 2012. The spectrum could be used to provide a range of new and improved services to consumers, for example a number of additional high definition channels on Freeview.

1.2 We are considering how to make the spectrum available in ways that best suit the needs of potential users, so that they maximise the total value to society they generate over time. To help us do this we published a consultation in February 2010 asking stakeholders about the potential uses of this spectrum. This document provides a summary of responses to that consultation and sets out our next steps in making this spectrum available for new uses.

1.3 This section provides a brief recap of:

  • the spectrum under consideration; and
  • our previous consultations on this spectrum, in particular our February 2010 consultation.

The spectrum

1.4 The digital dividend is the spectrum that is freed up for new uses by digital switchover. There are two distinct categories of spectrum in the digital dividend:

  • cleared spectrum the spectrum that by the end of 2012 will be fully cleared of existing uses, primarily analogue terrestrial television; and
  • interleaved spectrum capacity available within the spectrum that will be used after digital switchover to carry the six existing Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) multiplexes .

1.5 Figure 1 below shows the frequencies which comprise the 600 MHz and interleaved spectrum. The 600 MHz band is the lower band of the cleared digital dividend spectrum, from 550 MHz to 606 MHz, also referred to as channels 31 to 37. We are separately considering how to award the upper band of digital dividend spectrum (commonly referred to as the 800 MHz band). The 600 MHz will be available for new uses from the end of digital switchover in late 2012. Interleaved spectrum will be available in the frequency ranges 470- 550 MHz (also known as channels 21-30) and 614-790 MHz (also known as channels 39-60). The new configuration of interleaved spectrum will become available for use as regional switchover progresses.

Figure 1. The digital dividend

1.6 In our most recent consultation we suggested that the 600 MHz and geographic packages of interleaved spectrum (geographic interleaved spectrum) had a wide range of potential uses including: DTT, mobile broadband, mobile TV, programme making and special events (PMSE) and broadband wireless access.

Previous consultations

1.7 In summer 2008, we consulted on the detailed design of the digital dividend awards. At that time, we proposed to award the upper and lower bands of cleared spectrum together and to hold a series of awards of geographic interleaved spectrum. Several important developments subsequent to then caused us to reconsider those proposals. The main one was our decision to align our upper cleared band with the 800 MHz band identified for release by an increasing number of other European countries. Therefore in February 2010 we published a further consultation that:

  • updated stakeholders on spectrum availability in the rest of the digital dividend and how technical considerations may affect spectrum use; and
  • sought stakeholders' input on potential uses of the spectrum and on their level of interest in acquiring it to help us develop proposals on how best to make the spectrum available.