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Study: the use of the sub-700 MHz UHF band for TV broadcasting and events

The study analyses and assesses developments and trends in the use of the sub-700 MHz band, reserved in the EU for use by television stations to broadcast content to the homes of their customers, as well as for wireless audio equipment used to support broadcasting and coverage of news and events such as concerts and sports events.

In the EU, according to the Ultra-high frequency decision, the sub-700 MHz band is reserved for digital terrestrial television (DTT) and wireless audio equipment for Program Making and Special Events (PMSE) until at least 2030.

The results of the study will feed into a report that the Commission is expected to deliver to the European Parliament and the Council under Article 7 of the UHF Decision.

Television broadcasting

The study presents the DTT technology developments as regards capacity, spectrum efficiency and quality of end-user experience. According to the study conclusions, there has been good progress in adopting newer standards and technologies in the EU. Notably,

  • approximately 60% of all national multiplexes are already using the most advanced transmission standard (DVB-T2) with around 40% of them using the most advanced encoding standard (HEVC)
  • at least 12 MS are already using Single Frequency Networks (SFNs) to some extent in their DTT networks

However, improvements  still can be made in a number of Member States. One of the reasons that Member States have not made them already is considered the low uptake of DTT that limits commercial viability of upgrades.

5G Broadcast is promising, as there are quite a few trials. However, some uncertainties, such as the availability of 5G broadcast equipment and appropriate business models, still persist.

Linear TV watched on different platforms, such as DTT, satellite, cable or IPTV, remains the preferred way of watching TV, at least among the older generations. The study forecasts that while the number of households using IPTV may increase by 2030, for all other platforms the demand is likely to decrease. Significant differences exist among Member States as regards the predominant platform for watching linear TV, for example while DTT is preferred platform in Italy and Spain, cable is in Belgium and Denmark and IPTV in France and Slovenia.  

Programme making and special events

Usage of the sub-700 MHz spectrum for Programme making and special events (PMSE) also varies significantly between EU countries depending on the number or frequencies of events. Technological developments help improve the spectral efficiency of PMSE, but in many cases this only serves to meet the increasing demand.

Download & read the study