Warning on dead-end digital dividend proposals | News | Rapid TV News
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Digital transmission specialist Broadcast Australia has released its response to the Australian government’s digital dividend plans, warning against “locking free to air TV and digital radio into today’s technology” by allocating all the freed–up 126 MHz spectrum to mobile telephony.

Allocation of spectrum following analogue switch-off should rather provide “an evolutionary pathway that will enable the deployment of emerging technologies such as 3D TV or national, rather than just city based, deployment of digital radio.”

Broadcast Australia’s preferred spectrum restacking scenario allows for the six in-home digital TV RF channels already earmarked by Government, plus a seventh channel that could be used for more in-home services (including national broadcaster multi-channels, or niche broadcasting services) or broadcast mobile TV. It also allocates three contiguous 7MHz VHF channels for 12 digital radio DAB+ ensembles to allow expansion into regional areas, enabling coverage beyond the initial five capital city services.

Importantly, this scenario also provides an additional contiguous block of 21MHz to enable a dedicated transition path for free-to-air TV broadcasters to future broadcast transmission services or technologies such as DVB-T2. That would be achieved by relocating a 14MHz block of unassigned spectrum from the top-end of the 694-820MHz digital dividend band to the bottom-end. This, in conjunction with access to 7 MHz through the release of Channel 27, provides scope for a second digital dividend of 21MHz at a later date.

Stephen Farrugia, Broadcast Australia’s Technology Director, said: “We have taken a holistic view of current and emerging wireless communications technologies and looked at how all Australians can benefit from the use of the 700MHz spectrum band clearance.

“We believe it is vitally important that terrestrial free-to-air digital TV and radio services, which Australians rely on every day, are provided with a clear path to evolve in the future and are not locked into a technology cul-de-sac.”

“Our proposal places viewers, listeners and consumers of mobile and fixed wireless services first, while providing free-to-air TV and radio a genuine technology and services development pathway. It is an everyone wins solution for Australia,” Mr Farrugia said.

But Broadcast Australia’s solution may be politically undesirable. The federal government is already attracting much criticism for a recent decision to give the free-to-air broadcasters a rebate on their spectrum fees. Any move to allocate more spectrum to those same broadcasters is likely to prompt more outrage from some quarters, notably pay-TV companies.

© Rapid TV News 2010