Around GBP550 million (USD834 million) is being set aside by the British government to compensate the current occupiers of the 700MHz band, including Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) broadcasters, as part of plans to open up more spectrum for mobile broadband. According to Mobile World Live, the figure was revealed in the chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, with the finances expected to be spent over the period to 2020.
The funding is in line with previous estimates reached by UK telecoms regulator Ofcom, which in November 2014 published a consultation document estimating the cost of emptying the band to be between GBP550 million and GBP660 million. In this document the regulator pinpointed three main costs for clearing the frequency band, those being related to: a necessary extensive modification of DTT transmission infrastructure for broadcasters; the replacement of DTT aerials for around 100,000 households; and a shift to new radio frequencies for wireless microphones used for concerts and special events. Despite the required monetary outlay which will support the refarming of the 700MHz band, Ofcom did claim that such a move could generate financial benefits of between GBP900 million and GBP1.3 billion, with the creation of additional mobile broadband frequencies meaning the nation’s cellco would be able to meet increasing demand at a lower cost than might have otherwise been the case.