The last World Radio Conference settled an issue; the next WRC will open it again.
While a decision at the WRC held in Geneva last month gave European broadcasters the 700MHz spectrum they sought, what happens to the 470-694MHz frequencies will be a key issue when delegates meet again in 2019.
The perennial debate over all this digital dividend spectrum is whether it should be allocated to broadcasters or to mobile phone network operators. Studies into the issue will be presented at WRC19.
“I think it should go to broadcasters,” says ATDI lead engineer Alex Krasnojen. “But, as a man with a broadcast background, I may be biased in that.” Alex, a former head of frequency planning for Irish state broadcaster RTE, was one of a team of ATDI expert engineers who attended WRC15 in Geneva.
He notes: “Television is evolving and it needs more spectrum if it is to continue to advance. For instance, a 4K broadcast needs twice of spectrum resources as HD broadcasts so if we don’t give frequencies to broadcasters but still demand better picture quality there will be only half as many channels.”
Alex points out that broadcast is, in Europe and elsewhere, often subsidised by governments. This gives the sector less political power than that wielded by telecoms companies which pay significant sums into the treasury for spectrum rights and hand over further amounts in tax. In addition, they employ thousands of people and high employment is a major factor in politicians being re-elected.
“Telecoms companies are thriving and they have money which makes an unbalanced situation when it comes to coexistence,” Alex says. “Practice confirms that mobile networks push out broadcast – first from the UHF frequencies 790-860 MHz and then from the 694-790MHz band. Is this also going to happen with the last remaining broadcast stronghold in the UHF – 470-694 MHz?
“This situation is all about coexistence. But, whatever the outcome of the debate, ATDI will be able to assist. The company has built up huge, global expertise in planning and modelling to ensure mobile phone and broadcast signals can sit side by side without difficulty.”