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What is the 700 MHz spectrum clearance programme?

  • 2 minute read
  • Published by Lucy Woods on 26 Jan 2021
  • Last modified 26 Jan 2021
Written by Justin Leese is Programme Director of UK Fibre Programme and 700MHz Spectrum Clearance at Building Digital UK (BDUK)

Summer 2020 marked the successful completion of BDUK’s £400m 700MHz spectrum clearance project. In August 2020, we held the final two clearance events in Kendal and the Isle of Man - where TV viewers receiving their service through an aerial in that region had to re-tune their TVs or set-top boxes. We had held over 60 of these events during the programme, each one raising the importance of this high level engineering programme combined with top class customer service teams who were helping audiences directly. It has been one of our biggest infrastructure programmes and hardly anyone was aware that we were doing it.

We have created a short video about the project to highlight the scale of collaboration and the success of a project that quietly set about achieving its aims and objectives, and delivered ahead of schedule and under budget. You can watch the video below:

 

The video was filmed during the autumn and in keeping with the restrictions in place, we asked everyone to film their own interviews from home. This was important as we wanted to show how everyone worked together and the essential relationships that we built up over the past few years. And perhaps we have found some budding video interview stars out there at the same time!

The 700 MHz spectrum clearance programme was a £400 million project from BDUK which involved major engineering changes at 1,150 TV transmitters across the UK over 4 years. Releasing the spectrum clears the band of its existing uses (Digital Terrestrial TV and professional wireless microphones) which move to a lower frequency and free up the spectrum to help improve mobile broadband and support the rollout of 5G, bringing better and faster services to consumers and business. Ofcom have confirmed that the spectrum auction will take place in January 2021.

This programme is just one of a range of exciting projects that BDUK are leading to improve digital connectivity for the UK.

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