A regional approach to managing the digital dividend

David Abecassis/Analysys Mason
21 Jun 2012

The impending transition of analogue terrestrial television to digital terrestrial television (DTT) has the potential to enable a significant reconfiguration of UHF Bands IV and V, which are particularly well suited to wireless broadband communications. The spectrum freed by this switchover is referred to as the ‘digital dividend'.

Making some digital dividend spectrum available to other uses, in particular wireless broadband communications services such as LTE, will maximize socio-economic value.

In the Asia-Pacific region the switchover is due by 2020. However, some regulators and policy makers are seeking to make spectrum available for mobile broadband sooner. Wireless is the technology of choice for broadband in many developing Asian countries. In more developed countries, high smartphone penetration is the most important driver of capex, and more spectrum is essential to mitigate the costs of deploying ever-increasing capacity.

Sufficient spectrum should remain allocated to terrestrial broadcasting, particularly in countries where it remains the main medium to access television services. However, a well-designed DTT network could carry a large number of channels (e.g. 40 channels, local or national) using just 200 MHz of spectrum, out of over 500 MHz of digital dividend Ð which leaves ample spectrum for other uses.

Coordination and harmonization are essential to enable the following benefits:

  • Efficiency gains through similar spectrum planning in neighboring countries
  • Economies of scale, both for network equipment and terminals/handsets
  • Interoperability and roaming benefits, facilitating economic integration.
  • For smaller countries, these benefits are even starker, as a small country with a custom band plan would be unlikely to attract interest from the major equipment vendors and would be limited to lower quality and higher price equipment.

As part of its remit to facilitate harmonization of spectrum use in APAC, APT Wireless Group (AWG) has defined a preferred band plan for use of digital dividend spectrum with wireless broadband services.

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