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Digital switchover will mean the wholesale reorganization of the UK terrestrial broadcast frequencies. The 'cleared spectrum' and 'programme making and special events' are dealt with elsewhere in this section. The third aspect is what Ofcom call 'interleaved spectrum' which has only one real potential use: local digital television.
Ofcom have identified 81 transmitters that have, they calculate, at least one frequency that cannot be used for one of the existing six Freeview transmission multiplexes, but can be used for a low-power service.
Because these frequencies form part of the national Freeview plan, the use at these transmitter will have to be at low power and also restricted in their coverage. In effect, they will cover an area that will be much less than the full-power Freeview transmissions, even less than the pre-switchovermultiplex 2 and A coverage.
Ofcom may offer these 'lots' of frequencies as single packages, or may package the sale of them into regional or national groups. However, Ofcom is considering packaging one of the frequencies from the above list of 25 transmitters into a single UK-wide nation 'large lot'. This could mean in effect a seventh national Freeview multiplex, albeit with restricted coverage.
As the frequencies will only be available for use once switchover has happened on the transmitter, the services will start at or after each region's switchover. In addition, not all these frequencies are 'in group', so only households that have upgraded to a widebandaerial will receive them. Bidders will win a licence to transmit from the regional switchover date until 2026. The reserve price for the licence will be 25,000 per lot.
Whilst it is technically possible that these frequencies could be used for DVB-H, WiMax or 3G, it seems most likely that the will be used for local television or standard DTT (either SD or HD).
This Ofcom map shows the areas that are covered. The green areas are those that can be used for local TV (using QSPK transmission mode), the yellow areas those possible for national coverage (using 64QAM mode). Ofcom calculates the latter is 51% of England, 79% of Scotland, 52% of Wales and 32% of Northern Ireland.
Ofcom says that "Local TV may be operated on a wholly commercial basis, as a not-for-profit community model, or as a combination of both. Examples of existing terrestrial local TV services include Channel M in Manchester (backed by Guardian Media Group), MATV in Leicester (a commercial operation targeting the citys South Asian community) and NvTv in Belfast (a not for profit community model funded by Northern Irish arts, education and training bodies)."
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Geoff. Dixon Saturday 21 June 2008 8:15PM
Brian: Re:- "There could be local TV on Freeview, or a seventh multiplex from as soon as 2009".
This is a most interesting development and your article clearly outlines these new proposals.
However, I have tried to enlarge the map you provide, but the quality is none too good. Would it be possible to provide a better image as I am sure some of us will have difficulty in deciding whether they are located within a green or yellow zone?
Briantist - Fantastic detail i can't get any of this from Arqiva. I believe the mendip/ wenvoe 7th mux is now a certainty? In terms of interleaved channels Londonderry/ Limavady seem a potential risk to each other. I wonder if 3.2kw will be pulled back going forward. Limavady is my favourite site i have ever visited of the many but the tale of the two towers is coming to an end. mb21 - The Transmission Gallery
Jordy: The potential for a 7th and 8th multiplexes are there, but it would require an organization to pay for the licence and provide the actual transmissions. The plans show that the emission patterns will be such as to protect the existing digital transmissions, so there will be areas that are 'in range' for the normal multiplexes and will not be able to receive these new ones. I'll post some proper diagrams when I get back from holiday.
Nicholas Markwell Monday 29 December 2008 6:28PM Luton
Hi Brian, I live in South Bedfordshire (LU1 4EH) and have two aerials, one for Sandy Heath (band J), and the the other for Oxford (wideband with booster). The signal is diplexed with the crossover at channel 51. The signal from Crystal Palce is very strong, and can be picked up on the Sandy aerial with no difficulties. My question relates to the new local muxes 7 and 8 after switchover. I see that ch 23 will transmit Mux 8 from Sandy and Mux 8 from Crystal Palace; ch 29 Mux 7 from Crystal Palace and Mux 8 from Oxford; and ch 49 Mux 7 from both Sandy and Oxford. Will I be likely to receive the low power signals from muxes 7 and 8 as I'm on the fringe of all three transmitters? If I can, will the signal for mux 8 from Sandy wipe out mux 1 from Crystal Palace (which I pick up on the Sandy aerial)? I currently have a similar problem on ch 34, where the signal from Crystal Palace is so strong that it wipes out the signal from Oxford. I had thought that after switchover, I would be able to receive all the regional channels on each of the three transmitters without difficulty, but am wondering now if that will be the case... Regards, Nicholas
Nicholas Markwell: These services will transmit at low power and will be blocked in any direction where they would cause a conflict with other UK or non-UK transmitters. If this is the case then you will not be able to receive the additional service.