Changes to television broadcasting frequencies 2015-2016

Published 06.08.2015

Changes will be made to the television transmission frequencies as of the end of July when the 700 MHz frequency range will be transferred from use in the antenna television network to wireless broadband. At the same time, preparations will be made for the transition to the new DVB-T2 broadcasting technology as of 2017, which will also enable HD broadcasts.

Part of the frequency range that is used for the television antenna network, the so-called 700 MHz frequency range (694–790 MHz), will be transferred from the beginning of 2017 to wireless broadband. The frequency changes only concern the UHF frequency range of television (470–790 MHz). The change in the purpose of use of the frequency range is based on the Communications Policy Programme for Electronic Media issued by the Government to Parliament in 2012 and international decisions on the future use of the frequency range.

To be able to secure the amount of television services also after the transfer, the broadcasting frequencies of the UHF frequency range of television networks operated by Digita must be changed and in places reorganised. These changes in the broadcasting frequencies will be implemented by areas, and they will begin at the end of 2015 from Northern Finland. The populous areas of Southern Finland will be the last in turn by the end of 2016. In practice, the changes concern the whole of Finland. In almost all areas at least one frequency of the television broadcasting frequencies will change, in most areas more than one. The changes will start during 2015 from Northern Finland.

As of the end of July, on 27 July 2015, the frequency changes in the television antenna network will start in the area of Northern Finland. The first changes will be made in transmitter stations located in the Kemijärvi, Salla, Sodankylä and Utsjoki municipalities between 27 July and 23 August. During the first half of September, the work will continue in the areas of Karigasniemi, Enontekiö, Suomussalmi, Pello and Ylitornio, and the areas of Ruka, Rovaniemi, Vuokatti, Oulu and Posio will be in turn later in the autumn. (The light blue area in figure)

In the spring of 2016, the changes will be implemented according to plan in the areas of Central and Eastern Finland. In these areas, changes will be implemented in Iisalmi, Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Kristiinankaupunki, Kuopio, Lappeenranta, Pihtipudas and Tammela. (The green area in figure)

During 2016, the work will progress by main transmitter areas so that the changes will be implemented last in the areas of the large towns in Southern Finland. (The dark blue area in figure.)

Figure: Schedule of the 700 MHz frequency range changes in Finland according to transmitter stations (light blue 2015, green spring 2016, dark blue 2016)

Transition to new television technology

After the frequency changes, as of 2017, the new DVB-T2 broadcasting technology will be more extensively adopted in the antenna network of the UHF frequency range, which will also enable high definition, i.e. HD broadcasts. At the same time, programmes according to the current DVB-T technology will gradually decrease. Pay television channels will be the first to adopt the new technology completely, and Yleisradio's channels will be the last. The newer DVB-T2 technology is already in use in the multiplexes of the VHF range. The interim review of the technology transition is planned for 2020, and the final schedule of the total change in broadcasting technology (DVB-T switch-off) depends on whether the new technology TV receivers become more common.

Only one in three antenna households has an HD tuner suitable for the new technology

In early 2015, FICORA and the Ministry of Transport and Communications commissioned a separate report from Finnpanel which examined the frequency of television sets and digital TV receivers equipped with an HD tuner, suitable for DVB-T2 technology, in the households belonging to the television audience measurement panel. Of these households, dependent on antenna reception only, 29 per cent have a HD tuner.

According to Finnpanel's TV-taloudet Suomessa (TV households in Finland) study, some kind of an HD tuner is available in almost one in two households. An HD tuner is most often available in households using cable television. An HD tuner is already available in 60 per cent of these households. One in three households is not able to view HD channels at all.

According to the consumer survey, almost 40 per cent view Yle's HD channels, and according to Finnpanel, approximately 6 per cent of Finnish households order payable HD channels.

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Figure: Frequency of HD tuners in households in February 2015 (source: Finnpanel's TV-taloudet Suomessa (TV households in Finland) study)

This article is a part of FICORA's Communications Sector Review 2/2015.

Key words: Spectrum , Television , Antenna , Articles , Reviews

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