The new analogue

4/12/2012 8:55:41 AM


Description: Description: The new analogue


The end of analogue broadcasting promises a great boost to digital communications, says Gary Marshall

Britain’s digital switchover will be completed this year, replacing analogue TV transmissions with shiny digital ones. But there’s more to it than TV - it should also mean better mobile services, especially mobile broadband.

We spoke to Ofcom, whose spokesperson explained what the switchover means: “One of the major benefits of digital broadcasts is that they are much more efficient than analogue. This means you can fit many more digital channels into the space of one analogue channel. This efficiency is freeing tip spectrum - both in the UK and abroad. That is called the digital dividend.

The digital dividend comes in three forms. Firstly, more efficient allocation of channels means more choice of programming. Secondly, bandwidth for broadcasting enables TV companies to offer additional services like interactive ‘red button’- style options and additional content. Finally, spectrum that’s no longer needed can be used for other things, like 4G mobile broadband, also known as LTE (Long Term Evolution).

As Trefor Davies, founder of communications provider Timico and council member of the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA), explains: “There are two chunks of spectrum up for grabs - 2,600MHz  and 800Mhz - and the 800Mhz will not be available until the digital switchover is complete. This is the more attractive license for mobile operators as lower frequencies travel further and penetrate walls more easily hence fewer cell sites are needed.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that we’re lagging far behind our neighbours, most of whom have had 4G networks for years. it looks like the spectrum auction for this now won’t be until the end of 2012 at the earliest, and this will make the UK the last of major European economies to do so,” Davies says. Germany, Spain, Italy and France all managed to sort this out in 20I0. Davies predicts that widespread 4G won’t be in place until 2015.

One reason for the delay is that mobile operators have been arguing with one another, leading Ofcom chief Ed Richards to accuse them of “gaining the system” and “holding back innovation and hampering growth”.

If you’re feeling cynical, you might wonder if there’s more to it than networks jockeying for position. As Trefor Davies points out, they have a vested interest in delaying the process because LTE could destroy their voice revenues if consumers adopt services like Skype or Google Voice for their voice calls. “So the number one source of revenue suddenly comes under threat and at the same time they will need to spend tens of millions on rolling out new LTE infrastructure.”

Ofcom is adamant that the delays can’t continue much longer. This digital dividend will be auctioned at the end of 2012 for next generation mobile services,” it told us. So what will we actually get when 4G/LTE becomes widespread? The short answer is better broadband, with higher bandwidth and better range - although like all such claims, you should take promises of 100Mbps-plus with an enormous pinch of salt, in the real world the network is likely to deliver more like 10 to 20Mbps to the end user, which will still be some way behind the latest fibre-based fixed broadband but good enough to do most things people want to do (like) streaming video and online gaming, Davies says. It’ll also make cloud—based services, particularly media ones, feasible on mobile devices, and in areas without fixed line broadband connections.

The challenge for Ofcom is to ensure 4G isn’t something that’s only available in cities. While rural areas would benefit most from it, they’re also the most expensive areas to deliver the technology. “The mobile operators will want to build their network around densely populated areas where they can see a quick return on their investment,” Davies says. “(Rural broadband) will rely partly on the conditions that Ofcom places on licence holders for the required level of population coverage, and may require extra government funding to cover specific communities - as is happening in the fixed-line market.”

Top 10
Preparing Multimedia Data for Silverlight
Building Android Apps : Web Programming Crash Course
Windows Phone 7 Development : Handling Device Exceptions
Pentax Q - The world's smallest MILC
Create Your Own E-Books (Part 2) - Creation Services
XNA Game Studio 4.0 Programming : The Many Keys Of A Keyboard (part 1) - Reading Keyboard State
IIS 7.0 : Managing Configuration - Backing Up Configuration, Using Configuration History & Exporting and Importing Configuration
SQL Server 2008 : Working with DML Queries - Using the DELETE Statement
Exploring the T-SQL Enhancements in SQL Server 2005 : Ranking Functions
Application Patterns and Tips : Use an Event Broker
Most View
Programming .NET Framework 3.5 : An Introduction to .NET Compact Framework Graphics
Windows Server 2008 : The Prototype Phase - Creating and Testing the Plan
Customizing the Browser User Interface
Using Brushesin XAML
iPad SDK : Popovers - The Font Name Popover (part 1)
Windows 7 : Using Advanced Security Options (part 2) - Configuring Windows Defender
SQL Server 2008 : General T-SQL Performance Recommendations
The Android Phone computer (Part 2) - The world of OTG & Big screen entertainment
CPU System Workshop (Part 1)
Java Mobile Edition Security : Development and Security Testing (part 3) - Code Security & Application Packaging and Distribution
Windows Server 2008 : Domain Name System and IPv6 - DNS in Windows Server 2008 R2
Processor Group Test (Part 4) - Intel Core i5-2500K
IIS 7.0 : Enabling and Configuring FRT - Tracing a Specific Error Code
Algorithms for Compiler Design: SWITCH/CASE
Collaborating via Web-Based Communication Tools : Evaluating Web Conferencing Tools
Other Snippet Of Photography News From Across The Globe
Online Critiquing (Part 2)
Understanding Mobility Enhancements in Exchange Server 2010
SQL Server 2008 Instance Architecture
iPhone 3D Programming : Adding Depth and Realism - Surface Normals (part 1)