Ofcom set for new broadcast spectrum auctions

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The telecoms regulator Ofcom will start auctioning off valuable slices of broadcast spectrum currently being used for analogue television from late 2008 as part of a wide-ranging review of the resource.

The frequencies available can be used by a number of services including for broadcasting television to mobile phones and by mobile broadband services such as wimax and wi-fi.

The spectrum on offer enables companies to transmit across wide areas relatively cheaply and could also be used for new national and local television stations.

Ofcom said that re- distributingspectrum rights would benefit the overall UK economy to the tune of up to £10bn over a 20-year period.

The regulator calculates that companies reliant on spectrum currently available contribute about £37bn a year to the UK economy, equating to 3 per cent of GDP.

The review is part of a wider review of spectrum use within the UK and follows a series of auctions of spectrum over 2006.

The UK government will begin to switch off analogue television signals in 2008 with the switchover to digital television due for completion by 2012. This week Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, pledged to spend £600m assisting elderly and disabled people to switch to digital television.