Insights Ofcom issues Call for Input on the 700 MHz clearance programme.

In November 2014, Ofcom decided that the 700 MHz spectrum band, which currently houses digital terrestrial television (DTT) and wireless microphones used for programme making and special events (PMSE), would be repurposed for mobile data services.

Ofcom intends to avoid undue disruption to DTT viewers and to safeguard the benefits provided by PMSE.  The Government will take decisions on public funding for viewer support and PMSE equipment changes.

The vast majority of DTT viewers will only need to retune their digital television or set-top box during clearance. Less than 1% of viewers may also need aerial work, while some PMSE users will need to replace their equipment.

With this in mind, Government is currently considering:

  • what support viewers might require, and whether any public funding should be made available; and
  • whether support might be made available to PMSE users that need to replace their equipment as a result of the clearance programme and, if so, what would be an appropriate level.

In order to inform these decisions, the Government has asked Ofcom for advise on the impact that clearance would have on DTT viewers and PMSE users and the measures and associated costs to mitigate these effects.  Ofcom is seeking initial evidence to feed into this advice.  Ofcom is also inviting PMSE stakeholders that are likely to be affected to fill in a separate, confidential financial questionnaire.  The closing date for responses is 13 May 2016.  To access the Call for Input, click here.