Position on Coverage extensions

15 January 2015

This is the text of an email Ofcom sent to LTVN on 14 January 2015 regarding coverage extensions.

You will be aware that on 19 November, Ofcom  published its statement “Decision to make the 700 MHz band available for mobile data (PDF, 641.7 KB)” setting out our reasons for deciding to proceed with the proposed changes to the use of the 700 MHz band to make it available for mobile broadband . As we explained in the statement, these changes will involve making changes to the frequencies used by Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT).

Ofcom’s intention is that any reduction in the spectrum available to DTT should not materially affect coverage or channel line-up or cause any significant disruption to viewers. While our preliminary planning work has indicated that this should be possible, there is at this time uncertainty over the final frequency plans that we will need to agree with our neighbouring countries. Given this uncertainty, we do not consider it would be appropriate for Ofcom to agree to any coverage extensions or to the use of additional frequencies for local TV services beyond 1 January 2018. This is the likely earliest date when frequency changes might commence. This would mean that where such requests are approved and granted following due consideration by Ofcom’s BLC, Comux’s respective Broadcasting Act and Wireless Telegraphy Act licences and the Technical Plan would be varied to include the additional frequencies and coverage until 1 January 2018 only. We will keep this position under review but expect to consider all requests consistent with this approach until such time as we have sufficient certainty over future frequency plans.

Accordingly, Ofcom has asked Comux and the relevant local licensees to confirm whether they still wish to proceed with their currently outstanding requests to Ofcom on the basis that any extensions of coverage or use of additional frequencies that may be approved by Ofcom would only be granted until 1 January 2018. Ofcom has also asked both parties to confirm that they would be committed to implementing the proposals on this basis.