6th July 2017
This guide is provided based on available information at the time of publishing. It is intended as a guide only, and should you believe this may affect your business we would advise you seeking further advice.
The Government’s intention is to clear the 700MHz band by 1 May 2020. What has become clear this week however is that the process of moving Digital TV transmissions out of the 700MHz band is already having a knock on effect in the 500MHz and 600MHz bands as the process of moving TV transmitter frequencies is already underway.
Most importantly it isn’t just customers with 700MHz equipment who are affected, those with, or considering purchases of, 500MHz and 600MHz equipment could be affected almost immediately.
This does not in any way affect “Channel 38” (606.500MHz to 613.500MHz) Despite any scaremongering stories regarding this that you may come across to the contrary!
However there is a knock on effect on other 500 and 600MHz TV channels… Please note that the present compensation proposals from Ofcom do not include any compensation for 500MHz and 600MHz users displaced by the changes which have already started. So even those with no 700MHz equipment might wish to comment on at least the first of the two consultations mentioned below.
The mists are beginning to clear regarding the clearance of the "700MHz Band" in the UK.
There are currently two Ofcom consultations relevant to this band running, both of which have now had their closing dates extended until 13 July 2017:
1 - https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-1/support-pmse-equipment-owners
2 - https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-1/700-mhz-guard-band-pmse
If you own or use equipment in the UK that tunes completely or partially to frequencies above 694MHz then this will all be of interest to you. The first one is about the proposed compensation scheme, and the second seemingly less important one is actually inextricably linked to it since it potentially affects whether some equipment would be eligible, or not, for compensation; though this may not be obvious at first glance.
500 and 600MHz bands in the UK
Just out is the "700 MHz Clearance Look-up Tool" which is still a work in progress, but gives an indication of the likely available spectrum at locations across the UK post clearance of the 700MHz band after 1 May 2020:
It might be worth keeping a timed and dated copy of the results from the above web page on file with any project documentation for any wireless mic / IEM sales in case the situation changes. This would give you some evidence of how your frequency range decision was reached at the time to show your client (or whoever!) in the event of a dispute resulting from a later change of plan on the part of Ofcom etc.
And finally, for now, this document which shows the timetable for the roll-out of the new DTT plan and therefore provides an indication as to when and where various previously usable TV channels / frequencies BELOW 694MHz might suddenly become unusable: