700MHz clearance

Clearance engineering work at the Mendip transmitter

Latest industry update

Clearance changes in the STV region for 2017

Changes are being made at some transmitter groups in the STV region for 700MHz clearance from 26 July 2017. 

More details are available here.

A full briefing for installers is available below in PDF format.

Industry briefing - Upcoming changes to transmitters in the STV region

Updated 10 August 2017: Offset added for PSB2 (D3&4) on Mallaig relay (Torosay)

Information for viewers is available on the Freeview website at freeview.co.uk/tvchanges

 

What is 700MHz clearance?

In November 2014 Ofcom announced its decision to reallocate some of the airwaves used by Freeview to mobile services. A similar process is being carried out across Europe, as spectrum is reassigned to meet a predicted increase in demand for mobile data. As a result, some Freeview channels will need to move to new frequencies. This process is known as 700MHz clearance.

How will clearance affect viewers and channel providers?

Most Freeview viewers will simply need to retune their TV equipment when this change takes place in their area. However, Ofcom has stated that between 140,000 - 270,000 homes may also need to either replace or realign their aerial to continue receiving all available channels.

As part of 700MHz clearance, Ofcom states that:

  • 14-20m homes will need to retune their TV equipment
  • 100,000 -160,000 homes may need to replace their aerial
  • 40,000 - 110,000 may need to have their aerial realigned
  • A small number of households may need to change TV platform

Most Freeview viewers are familiar with retuning and do so from time-to-time to update their channel line-up - where TV equipment does not do this automatically. In some cases, more than one retune may be required where clearance takes place in multiple stages.

Aerial changes are most likely to be needed where TV services are broadcast in the aerial group C/D, which uses the 700MHz frequency band. However, most homes using C/D aerials should continue to receive reliable signals after clearance.

See areas with transmitters using group C/D.

Installers replacing aerials where signals are currently transmitted in this group are recommended to advise customers about clearance and offer a wideband model.

More information on wideband aerials is available here.

Some viewers may also need to install a small filter at the back of their TV to prevent interference once new mobile services launch. Changes to the 700MHz band will also affect equipment used in the Programme Making and Special Events (PMSE) industry.

Key points:

  • Freeview viewers will need to retune as clearance takes place
    region by region between 2017 - 2020
  • Most Group C/D aerials should continue to provide reliable reception.
    However, some will need to be replaced
  • Viewers replacing their aerial are advised to opt for a wideband model

When is clearance happening?

Clearance of the 700MHz band is scheduled to begin in 2017 and Ofcom has now confirmed its aim to release this spectrum in Q2 2020. This target date will be reviewed with Government in August 2017. Digital UK has been asked on behalf of the UK multiplex operators to co-ordinate the technical planning of the changes at TV transmitters, which will be implemented by Arqiva and will take place region by region. Around 90 per cent of main transmitters will require some re-engineering for clearance. Almost all of the 1,000 smaller relays in the network are likely to need work also.

Ofcom 700MHz clearance rollout mapCurrent rollout plan - simplified overview map (Ofcom)

Will there be assistance for viewers?

Information for viewers and advice on retuning will be available during clearance events from the Freeview Advice Line and the Freeview website.

Previous updates

Update: 8 May 2017

Digital UK has today published the dates and multiplex frequency changes for 700MHz clearance in the STV region during 2017. Further information will be available in the coming months.

Trade and Industry information: 700MHz clearance events in the STV region for 2017- UPDATED 10 AUGUST 2017

Update: 13 February 2017

Information for Installers: A test signal will be broadcast from Selkirk on the new channel 32 (562 MHz) frequency from 15 February 2017. This will allow engineers to carry out the final testing of the transmission and antenna system prior to the BBCA  frequency change on the 1 March. The test signal will consist of a pseudorandom binary sequence (PRBS) data signal and is therefore not decodable by televisions or set-top boxes.

Update: 3 February 2017

Clearance change in the Scottish Borders

Changes are being made at the Selkirk transmitter for 700MHz clearance on 1 March 2017. Viewers receiving their TV signal from here will need to retune on or after this date to continue receiving standard-definition BBC TV and radio services on Freeview.

A full briefing for installers is available below in PDF format.

Trade and industry briefing: Changes at the Selkirk transmitter group in the Scottish Borders

Ofcom statement: Moving Freeview to make more airwaves available for mobile ('700MHz clearance') + rollout map - 8 February 2017

Useful links

Ofcom documents

Decision to make the 700MHz band available for mobile data - statement
Call for Inputs: Managing the effects of 700MHz clearance on PMSE and DTT viewers
Consultation: Maximising the benefits of 700MHz clearance
Maximising the benefits of 700MHz clearance - Statement
Consultation: The future use of the 700MHz band

Digital UK responses to Ofcom

Digital UK response: Managing the effects of 700MHz clearance on PMSE and DTT viewers
Digital UK response: Maximising the benefits of 700MHz clearance
Digital UK response: The future use of the 700MHz band

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