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Europe reconsidering spectrum allocation post-analog shutoff?

Steven Kim

Britain began its own digital switchover months ago, but now it seems that there may be some grousing in the UK about the post-analog world. There are some serious concerns about the takeoff of HDTV in Europe, and a recent report concludes that HD-DTT (digital terrestrial television) penetration could be limited to 7-percent by the time the analog shutoff completes in 2012. But now the UK, acting as a bellwether for Europe, is considering plans to hand back up to 12 frequencies initially headed to the auction block. The good news: this plan would produce up to 40 HD-DTT channels for all to enjoy. The bad news: this would require broadcasters to modify their transmission equipment beyond initial plans for the digital transition, which in many cases has already moved into implementation. That sounds expensive, and if European broadcasters are anything like US ones, expense was the major hurdle in getting onboard with the analog shutoff to begin with. We really admire the goal of getting OTA HD across Europe, but we don't think this will fly -- at least not without some serious turbulence.

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