We've Just Taken One Massive Step Forward to 4G in the UK

By Sam Gibbs on at

London’s analogue TV transmitters have gone dark. From now on you’ll have to resort to FreeView or FreeSat to get your free-to-air TV fix in the Greater London area, which I can’t imagine any of you are sad about. But after a myriad of delays, it also means that we’ve taken a very important step towards our 4G future, and that should have you right-royally excited.

Before we can auction off the analogue TV spectrum to the networks for LTE at the end of this year, the whole of the UK has to transition over to digital TV. While most of the nation has already switched by now, London was one of the largest holdouts with around 12 million viewers. It’s all part of the UK’s digital switchover plan, with only two places left broadcasting in analogue: parts of the Tyne Tees region and Northern Ireland, which will switch off on the 10th of October.

The 4G auction, which is scheduled for the end of the year, will sell off the 800MHz band that analogue TV is vacating, as well as the 2.6GHz band that used to be used for radar among other things. The 800MHz band is thought to be the most desirable because it theoretically travels further and penetrates deeper into buildings than the higher frequency bands. So, getting analogue TV switched-off is a massively important step for us, not only for LTE testing, but to allow the auction to go ahead on time.

With O2’s large London trial being hailed a success, which a couple of you lucky sods hammered the crap out of, and other networks also finding testing going well, it looks like our LTE rollout in the UK could go quite smoothly once the paperwork is cleared. There’s that little issue of LTE over the 1800MHz band, possibly within 2012, but the main bulk of the 4G action will happen after the auction at the end of the year, and I can’t wait. Let’s just hope it’s not all bogged down in legal action. The TV’s being switched off specifically for this; don’t let anything else delay the sweet, sweet waves of ubiquitous high-speed data from washing over us. [BBC]

Image credit: Analogue TV from Shutterstock