Ofcom has decided to reallocate some of the spectrum used to broadcast Freeview, also known as Digital Terrestrial Television or DTT, to phone networks so they can meet the rising demand for mobile broadband services.
The 700 MHz frequency band currently represents a “substantial portion” of the spectrum used for DTT services but its ability to penetrate homes and buildings makes it ideal for providing reliable indoor broadband services.
Demand for mobile broadband is expected to be 45 times higher by 2030 than it is today, according to the regulator.
Today’s decision means TV channels will need to move to other frequencies but Ofcom says most viewers will only need to retune rather than replace their TV or set top box.
However the regulator estimates around 0.5% of homes may need to update their aerial or fit a filter which eliminates interference from mobile services.
DTT is likely to remain an important part of the UK’s TV market for at least the next decade.
Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “This decision ensures that we are making the raw materials available with which investors and companies can build the services which will support the digital economy of the future.
“More spectrum will be available for mobile broadband where demand is especially high, but the UK will retain a competitive terrestrial television platform as well.”