Decision to make the 700 MHz band available for mobile data - statement

Statement published 19|11|14

About this document

This document sets out our decision to make spectrum in the 700 MHz band available for mobile data use. It follows the consultation document which we published in May 2014. We present our assessment of the costs and benefits of this decision and explain why, having taken consultation responses into account, we expect the benefits will substantially outweigh the costs.

Enabling the 700 MHz band to be used for mobile data will allow mobile networks to provide better performance at a lower cost, which will bring considerable benefits to citizens and consumers.

However, there will also be costs of enabling the change: digital terrestrial television (DTT) and wireless communication for theatrical, musical and sporting events (‘PMSE’ services) currently use the 700 MHz band as well as other frequencies. DTT provides UK viewers with high quality free to view television and PMSE underpins many important cultural and social activities.  The change will involve moving parts of these services from the 700 MHz band to other frequencies.

We intend to ensure that the change occurs in a way that safeguards the important benefits that DTT and PMSE services deliver to citizens and consumers. The document explains how it will be possible to make the 700 MHz band available for mobile data use without compromising the benefits provided by DTT or PMSE, and without causing significant disruption to viewers. Viewers will not need to take any action as a result of this change until around 2019. For the vast majority of TV viewers the only impact of this decision will be that they need to retune their televisions.

Our objective is to make the band available for mobile by the start of 2022 and sooner if possible.  Given the substantial amount of effort that will be required to give effect to this decision, we will begin implementation work immediately. There will be a number of strands to our work on implementation, involving significant engagement with DTT providers, PMSE stakeholders, Government and representatives of TV viewers.  We are also discussing the question of public funding with Government.