Future use of the 470-694MHz band
Cambridge, 3 November 2014
A consortium of Abertis, Arqiva, BBC, BNE, EBU and TDF requested Aetha to consider the economic benefits that would arise across the EU's 28 Member States from mobile services gaining access to the 470-694MHz band, compared to a continued use of the band for DTT and other existing services. A link to the report and a short summary of our findings are provided below.
The full version of the report is available for download on Aetha's website. Please follow this link.
Summary of report findings
The World Radiocommunication Conference in 2015 (WRC-15) will consider the award of co primary status to mobile in the 470-694MHz band in Region 1. On behalf of a consortium of Abertis, Arqiva, BBC, BNE, EBU and TDF, Aetha Consulting considered the economic benefits that would arise across the EU's 28 member states from mobile gaining access to the 470-694MHz band, compared to continued use for DTT and other existing uses.
We have considered a scenario in which DTT transmissions cease and consumers are required to migrate to alternative platforms (a mixture of satellite, cable and IPTV). All 224MHz of spectrum in the band then becomes available for mobile. We have calculated the costs and benefits of this scenario over a 15-year period (2015 to 2029) and compared them to the costs and benefits of continued use of the spectrum for DTT and other existing uses (PMSE, radio astronomy and 'white spaces').
The benefits from making spectrum available for mobile are highly sensitive to forecast traffic levels. Therefore, we have considered a range of traffic forecasts, the highest of which is based on forecasts from the ITU and UMTS Forum. The result of our economic assessment is provided in Figure 1 below.
Our results show that, even in the most aggressive mobile traffic forecast, the costs of clearing DTT from the spectrum (EUR38.5bn) significantly outweigh the potential value of using the spectrum for mobile (EUR10.3bn) by a factor of almost four. When a less aggressive traffic forecast is used, the costs of clearing DTT are unchanged but the value of using the spectrum for mobile would be near to zero. It is clear that the economic benefits for the EU are maximised if the 470-694MHz band continues to be used for DTT for at least the next 15 years - there is clearly no economic case for switching-off existing DTT networks across Europe on the grounds of spectral efficiency.
Further, the introduction of a co-primary allocation to mobile at WRC-15 would have considerable negative impacts on DTT. Given the history of DTT, spectrum being awarded co-primary status for mobile and that then leading to the spectrum being cleared for mobile, granting a co-primary allocation to mobile in the 470-694MHz band would undermine investor confidence in the future of the platform. This would lead to the DTT platform falling behind other television platforms and even unnecessarily risk its viability, with little benefit to be derived.