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Ofcom reveals plans for UHF bandwidth

Bandwidth to push mobile TV and broadband

Ofcom has released detailed proposals describing what its planning to do with the bandwidth left behind by the switch to digital television.

The regulator described its aims as to enable innovative services and to "deliver significant benefits to UK citizens and consumers".

The UHF spectrum is currently used to transmit analogue TV channels. The advantage of this part of the spectrum is its capacity to transmit signals over large distances and the capacity to carry a large amount of information - which is why TV works.

Ofcom suggests the characteristics of UHF make it suitable for numerous uses, including ultra-fast mobile broadband, mobile television and more standard- or high-definition digital-television services.

Ofcom's consultation document proposes to release the spectrum in a way that will promote competition and innovation and allow the widest range of technologies and services to access the spectrum.

The licences will be both tradable and flexible to allow users to determine the technology and services they provide and to change the use of the airwaves as new technologies and services emerge.

Ofcom plans to make 128MHz of cleared spectrum available on a UK-wide basis, and will auction it off in 2009. The spectrum will be freed up for new uses in phases as digital switchover proceeds between now and 2012.

To maintain competition, Ofcom's proposals include limiting the amount of spectrum that any one organisation can acquire, as well as measures to prevent new services from causing interference to existing digital-terrestrial television services.

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