Ofcom on 20 April published a call for input from stakeholders in relation to the introduction of a framework for the long term future use of Ultra High Frequency (UHF) spectrum between 470 MHz and 862 MHz (the so-called bands IV and V). The propagation characteristics of this spectrum result in it being particularly useful for the transmission of services over long distances. As a result, "there are a large range of services that can potentially use this spectrum to deliver value to citizens and/or consumers".

At present this spectrum is used for digital terrestrial television (DTT) and is not part of the spectrum cleared by the digital switchover. Ofcom makes it clear that it has no immediate plans to change this. However, given the value of this spectrum, especially in relation to the provision of 4G mobile broadband services (LTE and WiMAX, for which the US has reserved spectrum in the 700 MH range), Ofcom states that the spectrum may need to be reallocated "in the longer term if citizens and consumers are to gain maximum benefits from future international harmonisation and new service and technological developments in UHF".

Of particular interest is the possibility of international harmonisation in Europe of spectrum in the 700 MHz range for both broadcast and mobile use. Ofcom have indicated that such harmonisation, if it were to happen, would be taken into account when determining whether and for what purpose UHF spectrum should be reallocated.

At this stage, Ofcom are seeking input from stakeholders on the factors that will have a bearing on how the future use of UHF spectrum will further the interests of citizens and consumers. Ofcom are inviting written submissions by 15 June 2011.

Read the full Ofcom report Developing a framework for the long term future of UHF spectrum bands IV and V (PDF).