UK: Contrary to previous expectations, Ofcom is to propose a long-term "migration" from channel 69, writes David Davies. The latest move - which will undoubtedly be regarded as a further blow to the interests of PMSE (performance making & special events) users post- digital switchover (DSO) - follows the historic decision by the International Telecommunication Union at last November's World Radiocommunication Conference in favour of the re-allocation of UHF 790-862MHz (channel 61-69) in region 1, which is defined as Europe and Africa.
Speaking to Pro Sound News Europe for a feature that will appear in the October print issue, Ofcom's director of operations - Spectrum Policy Group, Matthew Conway, made it clear that, in common with much of the cleared spectrum, channel 69 is also likely pass into the hands of the powerful IMT (International Mobile Telecommunications) industry.
"We have consistently set out that in the future we believe it is appropriate for PMSE users to begin the process of paying something more like the market rate for their spectrum, and work that has been continuing in Europe for the last two years has increasingly suggested that channel 69 and those channels below it - which will be cleared in the UK anyway [through] the Digital Dividend Review - could be a new band for mobile phones," says Conway (pictured).
With the long-term future of channel 38 - currently shared by PMSE and radio astronomy - also under discussion, the impression is one of receding options and, ultimately, spectrum availability for PMSE users post-DSO. In particular, large-scale theatrical productions could become a thing of the past, while key industry figures are also raising questions about the viability of broadcasting the 2012 Olympic Games.
"Ofcom is proposing to sell off spectrum without fully understanding the implications," says Alun Rees of Ranelagh International, a political and parliamentary consultancy working on behalf of the BEIRG Pro-User Group. "They have not demonstrated that there will be sufficient spectrum for PMSE post-DSO, but intend to sell it anyway, and this decision - once made - is irreversible."
For the full version of this article, which includes extensive coverage of arising PMSE access issues across Europe, look out for October's PSNE.