Analogue Switch-Off

Country Analysis

Following the WRC-07 decision to allocate the Digital Dividend to mobile, there were few instances where the spectrum was left unused. However, in some countries, particularly in Europe, decisions over where to position digital television had already been made — investments undertaken and networks planned or built. The case studies in this section outline the perspectives of regulators and government officials following the WRC-07 decision, as they assessed the the opportunities and challenges the decion presented. The case studies in this section are two such examples.

The UK had already progressed in rolling out digital television before the WRC in 2007. While UK regulator Ofcom was an early pioneer in calling for the Digital Dividend allocation to mobile, its own plans did not match the ultimate outcome laid out by the WRC. In order to realise the full benefits of a harmonised Digital Dividend allocation to mobile, Britain was forced to undertake a significant — and costly — replanning exercise. Graham Louth’s presentation outlines how far the benefits outweighed the burdens and why, in the end, following the harmonised band was not a difficult decision. Another European example is that of Spain, which had not only planned for the use of the spectrum, but had already licensed it to broadcasters.

Germany was the first European country to assign the 800MHz Digital Dividend band to the mobile operator community despite a very strong broadcasting community which needed assurance that its transmissions below the Digital Dividend band would not be adversely affected. Elmar Zilles’ presentation outlines some of the regulatory measures taken to assure this. Work such as the Analysys Mason research and modelling, carried out on behalf of the European Commission, made such rapid assignments possible: the economic benefit was too large to ignore.

Finally, the research in Balancing Act’s review of UHF use in Africa provides insight into the real need of the DTT community in the developing world.

For markets undertaking the analogue television switch-off and looking at the potential to reassign spectrum, these case studies are informative, as is the presentation on the Digital Dividend in Spain, particularly with regard to the recent WRC12 decision identifying 698-806MHz spectrum for mobile in Region 1. Governments yet to allocate spectrum for digital television now face similar decisions to that of the UK, Germany and Spain in 2007. Experience from these markets suggest that the economic and social beneits of allocating spectrum to mobile make a compelling case to allocate the spectrum for this use, and that spectrum harmonisation is critical.