EUROPE – What to Do With the ‘Digital Dividend’
LONDON – Like many other parts of the world, European countries are generally on course to achieve a switchover to digital television by early in the next decade, freeing up some radio spectrum that was used by analogue TV signals. Questions are now being asked about what should be done with this so-called ‘digital dividend’ of very useful radio spectrum. There are both technical and business aspects to this as a whole range of different technologies could be deployed using these frequencies with a correspondingly wide variety of potential business models.UK regulator, Ofcom, has been carrying out an extensive consultation under the banner of ‘Digital Dividend Review’, that has produced some interesting documents and presentations available from their site.A key decision that has to be made is whether any particular priority should be given to reusing this spectrum for the delivery of television or to make it available for more general purpose technologies like wireless broadband. Traditional UK broadcasters are, naturally enough, of the view that there is a special case for it to be used for HDTV and have formed a lobby group called HDForAll to push this point of view. But this is against a background of the rapid development of new forms of broadcasting using broadband platforms, and of improving capabilities for wireless internet technology.We can expect to see a lively political battle in the UK over the best solution for the use of the ‘dividend’ spectrum, and similar debates in other countries, as the crunch time for switchover and reallocation approaches.