The Future Use of UHF Spectrum

Plum carried out an independent study, commissioned by the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), looking at the current and future use of UHF spectrum in ITU Region 1, focusing in particular on spectrum bands between 470 MHz and 862 MHz.  The report looked at all users of the spectrum, first considering the demand for mobile broadband and other telecommunications networks and how increased use of UHF was crucial for rolling out high-quality connections to rural areas; second examining the historic and current use of the bands below 700 MHz for digital television (DTT); and third looking at other users of the spectrum including PMSE, PPDR and radioastronomy.

Our study identified increasing demand for spectrum from the mobile industry, against a slowly declining use by television broadcasting.  However, this is not a uniform trend across all countries in Region 1, and some countries have greater reliance on DTT than others; PMSE use is also a more important consideration in some areas.  To enable national governments and regulators to make best use of this spectrum, therefore, the study concludes that the bands 470 – 694 MHz should be allocated on a co-primary basis to DTT and mobile going forwards, with regulators coordinating between themselves to ensure that any impacts of cross-border interference are minimised.  In taking these decisions, regulators must consider what is needed for all users of the UHF spectrum in their country, and make use of geographic or other sharing methods to accommodate demand.