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UK Policymakers Consider Spectrum Options

Recent Strategy Analytics research forecasts that 90 percent of UK homes will be watching High Definition TV by 2020, as long as Ofcom allocates spectrum on the digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform for HDTV.

Without HD on DTT, a mere 60 percent of homes would be watching HDTV by 2020. Their report suggests that the decision on HD-DTT is closely tied to overall policy on the future of public service broadcasting (PSB), and that the availability of HD-DTT is necessary to ensure that PSB does not become unduly weakened relative to pay and commercial television services.

There is currently a fierce debate in the UK on the proposed allocation of available broadcast spectrum after analogue television is switched off. Broadcasters, such as the BBC and Channel Four, have argued strongly for capacity for HDTV on DTT, but other industry groups are expected to push for emerging services such as wireless broadband.

"The Ofcom and the UK government decisions on HD-DTT over the next few months will shape the UK's broadcasting environment for many years to come," notes David Mercer, Principal Analyst at Strategy Analytics. "They must consider the long term impact on public service broadcasting before making any final decision on spectrum allocation."

The Strategy Analytics report considers alternative HDTV adoption scenarios for the UK. The first, in which free-to-air HDTV is available on the DTT platform, indicates that 90 percent of households would be receiving HDTV by 2020.

The second, in which HDTV is excluded from DTT and confined to satellite, cable and IPTV platforms, indicates that no more than 60 percent of households would be able to receive HDTV by 2020.

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