The European Commission wants to encourage co-operation between member states to allow the size of the digital dividend to be increased through further spectrum efficiency gains.
In a consultation document published today (Friday), the Commission says consumers have high expectations for the future development of broadcasting, such as increased choice, high definition, and mobile television and broadband. To achieve this the Commission is proposing that all DTT receivers sold after January 1, 2012 should at least be as efficient as the current H.264/MPEG-4 AVC standard. The Commission believes that the combination of a replacement cycle of between five and eight years, and a co-ordinated move, would prevent a “chicken and egg” type situation as member states migrate from the first generation of digital broadcasting networks.
The Commission wants to foster co-operation between member states already committed to upgrading their networks to next generation systems. The UK, France, Greece, Norway, Serbia and Latvia are among the countries moving towards MPEG-4 and/or DVB-T2 transmissions. Single Frequency Networks (SFNs) are also being favoured over Multiple Frequency Networks (MFNs), although the Commission acknowledges the additional costs associated with SFNs.
An increase in the minimum standards required for terrestrial broadcasting would outweigh the costs by between €4 billion and €10 billion, according to an ongoing study conducted on behalf of the Commission by Analysys Mason, DotEcon and Hogan & Hartson.
As a matter of urgency the Commission wants member states that have not already completed analogue switch off to reaffirm their intentions to do so by January 1, 2012 and to have all the necessary measures in place during 2011. It also wants the 800 MHz band – already used in the UK for digital broadcasting – to be opened for EU-wide electronic communications services.
The consultation will run until September 4 with a full statement due in the autumn.