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UMTS Forum Urges ITU to Back Harmonised 'Digital Dividend' for Frequencies Below 600 MHz PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 16 February 2005

Industry body The UMTS Forum has urged the ITU to develop its new digital broadcasting plans so that the "digital dividend" following analogue television switch-off in the band 470-600 MHz is harmonised and made available for mobile services.

The UMTS Forum has recently published its Report No. 38 "Coverage Extension Bands for UMTS/IMT-2000 in the Bands between 470-600 MHz" in relation to RRC-06 and WRC-07. Available to UMTS Forum members, the new report presents the results of work in the Forum on finding additional harmonised spectrum to provide better coverage for UMTS/IMT-2000 in large areas of low population density. Indeed, lower frequency bands could provide cost effective coverage in such regions where capacity limitations are not typically a problem.

Digital terrestrial broadcasting switchover will offer a more efficient use of frequency resources. After analogue broadcasting switch-off, a certain amount of spectrum - referred to as the digital dividend - will be released, making possible the implementation of new services.

Two scenarios are possible:

- the digital broadcasting plan is developed in a spectrum efficient manner allowing a harmonised digital dividend;
- the digital broadcasting plan focuses on digital terrestrial television and does not create a harmonised digital dividend that could be used for other purposes.

"The global success of GSM and UMTS radiocommunication systems is based on a harmonised approach that has allowed economies of scale and global roaming", observes UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaim. "There is therefore a need to concentrate on a digital broadcasting plan that provides the possibility of a harmonised digital dividend."

Taking place in Geneva from May-June 2006, the Regional Radiocommunication Conference 2006 (RRC-06) has a mandate to develop an agreement concerning digital broadcasting services within band III (174-230 MHz) and band IV/V (470-862 MHz) frequencies.

In January 2000, European countries stated that efficient implementation of digital terrestrial television broadcasting will not be possible on the basis of the existing frequency assignments contained in the European Broadcasting Agreement (Stockholm 1961). Hence, ITU organised a conference to revise the Stockholm Plan. Their request resulted in the RRC-04/06 for the planning of digital broadcasting services in the Bands III and IV/V.

ITU RRC-04 addressed the technical basis for the planning of digital terrestrial broadcasting services. The first session agreed on the intercessional work and an associated frequency plan for digital terrestrial broadcasting, taking into account:

- protection of existing and planned analogue broadcasting stations and other existing services;
- time periods for digital switchover in the broadcasting bands;
- regulatory procedures relating to modifications of and additions to the Plan;
- coordination procedures for digital switchover;
- regulatory procedures for sharing broadcasting frequency bands between broadcast and other services to which these bands are also allocated.

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