back to article Ofcom slices up the digital dividend

Ofcom, the UK regulator, has published its first consultation on how to carve up the digital dividend – the spectrum released in 2012 when analogue TV is switched off. And if you've found previous auctions confusing you ain't seen nothing yet. In total there is 144MHz of spectrum coming onto the market: 112MHz from the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @British radio astronomy has agreed to hand over another 8MHz.

    ... I don't supposed British radio astronomy got £X million pounds for the 8MHz, and can now afford to keep Jodrell Bank open or something....

  2. Sooty

    possible silly question

    "though for the moment licences will be lease-hold not freehold"

    but surely once you've leased the channel for something, made, and sold to the public, all of your shiny new technology that uses it. You pretty much locked in and have to keep paying the lease.

    Or face a massive consumer backlash as some 80year old is tracked down and prosecuted by offcom for using their new wireless network.

  3. David H
    Paris Hilton

    It'll all end in tears

    A country trying to be simultaneously part of Europe at the same time as 'doing its own thing' is a bad compromise that does nobody any favours whatsoever. Combine this with an economic downturn and you could think that the country is being run by idiots.

    Paris, because she could do a better job at running the country.

  4. Kier


    Isn't the role of a regulator to work in the interests of the public and ensure that this sort of crap doesn't happen?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Maybe some of it should be given to Freeview so they can start broadcasting HDTV?

    But that would seriously disrupt Murdoch's monopoly. I think OFCOM wouldn't be happy with this?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Poor Freeview

    We have a block of spectrum used for terrestrial TV, used to provide a public service. In the olden days, having 5 analogue stations was enough; nowadays we expect far more. Freeview upped that number to a few dozen stations by using six channels, but that's still a very long way from being a comprehensive list. I'd always sort of assumed that when the analogue channels were switched off, they'd be available for more digitial channels.

    Instead, they're being sold off. So if, in the future, we want more bandwidth for TV stations, tough. Or, at the very least, it's going to cost someone (ie: us, ultimately).

    I dislike this shift from 'here's a block of spectrum we're managing for the public good' to 'here's a block of spectrum that's ours to sell'.

    So, Freeview, then. What's the plan with that? If it's to be penned in to its current allocation, with its space to expand sold off, what happens to it long term? We're already tight on space (witness Sky wanting to remove Sky News and Sky Three to make space for some pay channels). And any shift to HD is going to squeeze what's there even further.

    Or is Freesat now the flavour of the month?

  7. TeeCee Gold badge




    Da, da, da, dadada, dum!

  8. Mage Silver badge

    Who's Good?

    Is this good for ?


    Big Buisness




    In fact 5MHz is old hat. Current designs of High Speed Mobile need 3 x 10MHz x 2 or 3 x 20MHz x2 or similar.

    Even obsolete 3G/HSDPA needs 3 x 5MHz x 2 for efficient deployment.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Ble mae'r BBC2?

    As long as they use up *some* of the freed-up bandwidth to reinstate to us long-suffering Welsh, the "proper" versions of BBC1, BBC2 and ITV as distinct from their Welsh variations which is all we have ever been able to receive since the demise of the 405 line service back in the 1970's. Freeview does at least offer the proper Channel 4 even in Wales, but we need the others also. The main gripe is that too many of the more interesting programmes are delayed - or taken off entirely - in favour of local replacement programmes about local heroes.

  10. Temp
    Thumb Down

    Freeview HDTV

    Ofcom have already published their plan for HDTV on Freeview. After switchover, they will force the BBC to move BBCi services, BBC Parliament, CBeebies and BBC Four, plus the radio channels from Mux B (which will be renamed PSB 3) to Mux 1 (PSB 1) where BBC One, Two, Three and so on live. PSB 1 will be going from its current 16QAM mode at 18Mb/s to 64QAM at 24Mb/s, but the BBC will have to cut the bitrate of each of its channels by 33% or lose some.

    One BBC service will be going to Mux 2, which is already 64QAM, so ITV and Channel 4 will move one channel each to Mux C (COM 2) and/or Mux D (COM 3). Five also moves to Mux 2 (PSB 2) so that everyone can get it (see below).

    PSB 3 will then be changed over to DVB-T2 (which is still being drafted) and MPEG-4 to get three HD channels out of 30Mb/s. The plan is to squeeze the bandwidth further as compression supposedly improves to squish a fourth HD service in there.

    BBC One currently runs at 4.9Mbps, nearly twice ITV1 at 2.6Mbps, and BBC Two, Three and News 24 all at 3.6Mbps. There is already a noticeable picture quality difference between BBC and the commercial channels. 10Mbps isn't really enough to run an HD service with five times as many pixels (1920x1280 versus 720x576) as SD. This plan gives a worse service to both SD and HD viewers.

    In addition, the relay transmitters - ones which pick up their signal from a main transmitter and relay it on different frequencies, to fill in coverage gaps - will only be relaying PSB 1, 2, and 3 multiplexes. Their operators have chosen not to take the commercial channels. If you don't currently get Freeview from your local transmitter - analogue only - you're on one of these relays.

    For more information see

  11. Steve
    Paris Hilton

    So no future for Freeview then?

    What we need... And this would really piss off the ISP's... Is Freeview over IP, perhaps as a p2p solution, I can dream can't I?

    So Offcom is selling off the one chance they had left for anyone not to think they are clueless twats.

    Paris? ...because she could do a better job at running OFFCOM.

  12. Steve Todd


    10Mbit/sec may not be good enough for MPEG2 HD, but the state of the art has move on a long way since MPEG2 and its plenty good enough for MP4 H264 encoded HD (in 1080i even). In all actuality 4.5Mbits is enough for 720P H264 HD.

  13. Tom

    @Steve Todd

    Yeah fugly 720P H264. I'm getting BBC HD off freesat (well, DVB-S card, hooked up to sky dish), which comes out at a jaw droppingly gorgeous 20 Mbps MPEG-4 AVC. Its purty.

  14. Steve Todd


    And while 20M bits may be very nice, lower bit rate aren't half bad either. See for a high motion 1080p clip @ 8.5M bits. The same clip is available in 6M bit 720p and 2.5M bit 480p, all of which are significantly better than BBC MPEG2 broadcasts on FreeView

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Mage

    You forgot the Government at the top of your list of winners (consumers are at the bottom). They'll get a nice few billions of windfall, just in time for a pre-election budget. And even if they win one more term, the real drawbacks of flogging off our most valuable spectrum won't emerge until the middle of next decade when Freeview has no capacity to shuffle around and upgrade itself to MPEG-4/DVB-T2.

    The whole analogy with land use is completely bogus anyway. Land use is completely controlled by local and national planning authorities - meanwhile Ofcom ducks its responsibilities and retreats into a flimsy neo-Thatcherite free market system.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    @ Steve

    So Offcom is selling off the one chance they had left for anyone not to think they are clueless twats.

    Unfortunity, they don't care if we think that. They are in charge, are making all the money, and have ALL the control.

  17. James Raeburn

    Where Does OffCom Get The Right??

    Where does OffCom the right to do this sell off? The bandwidth and infrastruture to support it was bought and paid for by the People and therefore should be returned to People once it's no longer needed to provide free & better services ie. Freeview HDTV.

    I think it's time MP's and action groups were lobied to stop OffComm's high and heavy handed approach.

    Or am I just being gloriously niave.....long live the revolution.

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