Last year we decided to clear the 800 MHz band so it matches the spectrum being released in other European countries. This will benefit people across the UK because the spectrum will be able to be used for new mobile broadband services. Because of this, programme-making and special events (PMSE) users will have to stop using channel 69. To help these users move, we have made a commitment to:
In our 15 April 2010 interim statement on our plans for managing PMSE spectrum, we outlined the arrangements for different types of user moving from channel 69 to channel 38, or other replacement spectrum.
In this statement we focus on funding. The previous Government, in its Digital Britain final report, said that it supported the proposal to clear the 800 MHz band and that it was prepared, in principle, to provide funding for users who had to move.
In August 2009, we consulted on the detailed arrangements for providing funding for eligible users (below we explain which users are eligible for the scheme). We said we would pay out funding to users based on the value of their existing equipment and that this was in line with our powers to make grants to promote the efficient use of spectrum. Most of those who responded to this consultation said that the funding should cover the full cost of replacing equipment. They said that providing anything less than the full replacement cost would mean some users would find it difficult to invest in new equipment.
The Government is responsible for making final decisions on the level of funding and how it is provided. It considered the arguments for providing funding to cover the full cost of replacing channel 69 equipment, including those arguments we thought would raise issues wider than the efficient use of the spectrum.
On 28 July 2010, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced the new Government’s plan to provide a funding package to support PMSE users moving out of channel 69. The package does not cover PMSE users in other channels. The funding will provide a contribution towards the cost to PMSE users of replacing their channel 69 equipment. It will be based on the cost of bringing forward investment in new equipment. PMSE users will receive the same amount no matter what age the channel 69 equipment that needs to be replaced is, as long as it is in working order and they meet the other requirements of the scheme.
This statement gives more information on how funding will be provided as a result of the Government’s decision to provide funding which will be a contribution to the cost of replacing the equipment. We set out the conditions that users must meet to qualify for funding, the evidence that will be needed to check claims and how payments will be worked out. We finish by setting out the next steps for launching the funding scheme.