EBU POSITION ON THIS ISSUE

  • Spectrum policy should reflect the ongoing socio-economic importance of television and broadcasting
  • Be based on solid and comprehensive analysis and impact assessments
  • Accommodate realistic projections of future growth of mobile data traffic without compromising the future of digital terrestrial television

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WHAT IS AT STAKE?

Spectrum - or radio spectrum - is the range of electromagnetic radio frequencies used to transmit data wirelessly. It is composed of the different ranges of radio frequencies which are divided up and allotted to carry all forms of wireless data signals, ranging from radio, TV, Wi-Fi, mobile telephones and Internet to wireless microphones, satellite communications and many more.

Spectrum has become a scarcer resource as a result of the increased use of wireless technologies, in particular mobile data traffic. Broadcasters have undertaken major investments which freed up a significant portion of spectrum for mobile data, whilst increasing choice and quality for TV viewers. However, further diversion of spectrum resources away from broadcasting risks compromising the future of digital TV, and undermining universal access to public service media.

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“Television broadcasting is indispensable. There are no other technologies currently out there capable of replicating its advantages, both for viewers and broadcasters. With roughly half of Europe’s population relying on digital terrestrial television, broadcasting directly connects Europeans in their living rooms to European films, documentaries, series, news and sports.”

Simon Fell
Director of Technology & Innovation

 

Ensure sufficient spectrum for digital terrestrial television

Public service media make their channels available on all TV platforms - digital terrestrial television (DTT), satellite, cable and internet TV networks. DTT nevertheless remains the most effective means of ensuring that every citizen has access to free-to-air TV. DTT requires spectrum in the UHF band because of its technical properties.

Sustain a vibrant European audiovisual landscape

The availability of DTT offers a basic and cost-efficient guarantee that public interest programmes and services will reach viewers. This, in turn, brings wider economic, social and cultural benefits. For example:

  • DTT ensures cultural diversity through its wide dissemination of European audiovisual works.
  • It carries the latest innovative digital TV services (on-demand, Red Button, interactive) and state-of-the-art image definition standards (4K, 3DTV).
  • DTT makes impartial and high quality news available for all.
  • It encourages innovation and competition on consumer prices on other TV reception networks which require a subscription (cable, satellite, IPTV).  

An evidence based approach to future spectrum allocation

UHF band frequencies are in great demand to cater for the projected growth of mobile internet usage in the future. This growth is undeniable, but it is also unfortunately, often considerably exaggerated. It is important to bear the following in mind when making policy decisions awarding certain UHF band frequencies for mobile internet services:

  • Unreliable forecasts: recent research shows that mobile growth estimates and forecasts provided by the mobile data industry are overestimated.
  • Success of Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi caters for the vast majority of wireless data traffic delivered to smartphones and tablets, offering higher capacity and cheaper data reception, in particular for data-intensive services such as audiovisual programme streaming or downloading.
  • Inefficient use: mobile data operators already have a large amount of spectrum their disposal - some of which is not fully used and operate 2G and 3G networks that are not efficient in terms of spectrum use.
  • Other solutions: increased demand for mobile can also be met on several other frequency ranges (L‑band, 2.3 GHz, 2.6 GHz) which are not relied on by DTT.
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