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Should the UK close down the TV networks to allow for more mobile broadband?

Ofcom is wondering if Freeview is needed in the future, or can we close down the massively popular service to provide more 4G broadband. Freeview occupies 256MHz today, whilst mobile phone services have 560MHz. Digital UK has a report that suggests Freeview is good for the UK.

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Photograph:
published on UK Free TV

From the Digital UK Press Office today:

A new report published today reveals the major economic benefits that Freeview and other terrestrial TV services deliver to the UK.

The report shows that the country's most widely used platform returns nearly £80bn to the economy and challenges the view that mobile broadband delivers more value from airwaves than television.

The findings come at the start of a year when crucial decisions about the future of free-to-air TV will be made by policy makers in the UK and EU. Just over a year after digital switchover freed up capacity for 4G mobile broadband, a further shake-up of the airwaves is being considered to release more spectrum for the mobile market.

Commissioned by Digital UK, the report by media and telecoms consultancy Communications Chambers sets out for the first time the economic and social importance of digital terrestrial television (DTT) which delivers broadcast channels for both Freeview and YouView - and is watched in three-quarters of UK homes.

Headlines from the report include:

  • Evidence of DTT's vital role in supporting UK broadcasting, driving innovation and investment in programme-making while keeping consumer costs down
  • DTT provides nearly £80bn* to the UK - significantly more than previously estimated - and supports 15,000 jobs in broadcasting and independent production
  • New economic analysis showing that DTT delivers more value per unit of spectrum than mobile broadband (see notes)


As the largest free-to-air TV service, DTT creates healthy competition between platforms and ensures viewers can access public service channels without subscription Digital UK and its members (BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Arqiva) are urging government to ensure any further transfers of airwaves do not weaken Freeview and other terrestrial TV services, and that viewers should not suffer disruption or foot the bill for making the changes. In a joint letter accompanying the report, Tony Hall, BBC Director General, Adam Crozier, CEO of ITV, David Abraham, Channel 4 CEO and John Cresswell, CEO of Arqiva, stress the importance of terrestrial services such as Freeview in ensuring the UK remains a world leader in television.

Jonathan Thompson, Chief Executive of Digital UK, said: "This report sheds new light on the value of DTT for viewers, the UK television sector and wider economy. With increasing demand for spectrum it is critical that DTT remains a strong proposition with the same coverage and range of channels viewers enjoy today."

Copies of the report can be downloaded from The Value of Digital Terrestrial Television in an era of increasing demand for spectrum [PDF].

Notes

*£79.8bn, calculated on the basis of ten year "net present value" (NPV)

New economic analysis: The report estimates that the average value per MHz of spectrum for DTT is 50% higher than that for mobile data and that the marginal value (the unit value that might realistically be reallocated between DTT and mobile) may be even greater. The report estimates the marginal value of mobile data per MHz of spectrum to be £0.19bn compared to £0.47bn for DTT.

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Comments
Saturday, 25 January 2014
S
Steve P
sentiment_satisfiedGold

1:34 AM
Wrexham

Briantist

1) I use Freeview and Freesat. I'm sure many do. Why does your venn diagram say we don't exist?

2) In all these stats where does Freesat-from-Sky fit in? I use that as well!


Presumably my experience of losing Sat when the dish fill with snow, or in very heavy weather, is standard? So we need a backup.

What if satellite is knocked out - by faults, asteroids, solar activity, something we didn;t think of ?

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Steve P's 1,172 posts GB
S
Steve P
sentiment_satisfiedGold

1:35 AM
Wrexham

Are there several physical satellites for each service?

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Steve P's 1,172 posts GB
K
KMJ,Derby
sentiment_satisfiedGold

10:51 AM

Steve P: You raise a very good point, that of reliability. The big main Freeview transmitters such as Crystal Palace and Sutton Coldfield are better than 99.9% reliable for the majority of viewers in the intended service area. Satellite reception, at least using a Sky mini dish offers nowhere near this level of reliability and it is fair to say that loss of signal is most likely in Winter when a greater proportion of the population is inside watching tv! Broadband connections and mobile phone signals are even less reliable - at least at the present time. Another question arises regarding satellite reception, that of how many people cannot see the orbital position due to trees, tall buildings or hills blocking the view. Should there be a duplicate service, at least for the PSB channels, from a different orbital position, in the event of Freeview being discontinued? Northern Ireland could easily receive such a back up service if the PSBs were to be added to Saorsat.

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KMJ,Derby's 1,811 posts GB
Briantist
sentiment_very_satisfiedOwner

11:09 AM

Steve P: It's not my diagram, it's Ofcom's// GfK NOP consumer research's - http://stakeholders.ofcom….pdf page 7

The report doesn't have a "free-to-view digital satellite households" breakdown on multiple platforms, just Pay-sat, Freeview and Cable.

Freesat-from-Sky, Freesat and non-branded satellite reception are lumped together as "free-to-view digital satellite households". I called it Freesat to make it clearer on a simple diagram.

You've been reading 9 weird ways that the weather will actually stop you watching free TV | About UK Free TV | ukfree.tv - 11 years of independent, free digital TV advice I see.

The Internet was specifically designed to work if hit by a nuclear attack (it's peer to peer and decentralised), so it will continue to work if satellite are taken out as it a terrestrial network (although there is a "solar-system compatible IP" out there too).

Non-domestic satellite reception dishes can be provided with heating and other de-icing technology.

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
Briantist
sentiment_very_satisfiedOwner

11:12 AM

KMJ,Derby:" Should there be a duplicate service, at least for the PSB channels, from a different orbital position, "

There already is! Intelsat 907 at 27.5°W
Intelsat 907 at 27.5°W - LyngSat 11495MHz Vertocal tranponder 74



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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
J
john Martin
sentiment_satisfiedSilver

1:46 PM
Doncaster

Yes we will get free broadband in our dreams. If they mention free and a speed which will give me tv uninterrupted as I get now the tv licence will have gone up by at least 20 percent. Nothing in this world is free. To watch freeview at present. 1. I had to buy a digital box 2. I needed a new ariel and 3. A licence. So leave me freeview as it is thank you. If the government says it will be better you know you will have to pay more. Plus we moan about snoops at the moment. If we end up using internet for everything we will have no privacy what so ever. I know some on here will not care but I do.

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john Martin's 103 posts GB
Briantist
sentiment_very_satisfiedOwner

2:01 PM

john Martin: I'm not sure why you say "the tv licence will have gone up by at least 20 percent" given that it has fallen in real terms (having been frozen in cash terms) for six years... BBC licence fee held at 145.50 until 2016 | News headlines | ukfree.tv - 11 years of independent, free digital TV advice

Of couse nothing's free: you pay towards ITV (and all the ad-supported channels) even if you never watch it - see 14 reasons why you should stop moaning about paying the TV Licence every day | About UK Free TV | ukfree.tv - 11 years of independent, free digital TV advice

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
Ian
sentiment_satisfiedGold

3:51 PM
Hinckley

"The Internet was specifically designed to work if hit by a nuclear attack (it's peer to peer and decentralised), so it will continue to work if satellite are taken out as it a terrestrial network (although there is a "solar-system compatible IP" out there too)"

What about engineering work, faults at the exchange, floods etc these all take out the broad band in areas at the moment. We lost the internet for 2 days over Christmas due to a fault in the exchange, that would have meant no TV!!!

How long have some of the PSB channels been on Intelsat 907? Not much use as a back up unless you have a motorised dish.

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Ian's 497 posts GB
Ian
sentiment_satisfiedGold

4:10 PM
Hinckley

Also they are encrypted in BISS so no use to any domestic satellite box.

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Ian's 497 posts GB
Briantist
sentiment_very_satisfiedOwner

4:57 PM

Ian: The point being, as I'm sure you understand, is that the fault in your local exchange didn't effect anyone else. The network self-heals in microseconds: almost all faults are unseen.

Of course there are balances to be struck in the "replace free broadcast TV with free IP plans".

I can personally see that there would be huge groups of people who would be better off with interactive communications than just having the TV to watch.

The channels have been on Intelsat 907 since at least 19 April 2009.

Intelsat 907 at 27.5°W - LyngSat

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
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