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Regulation and Spectrum Update (Issue 20)

Issue 17 rsc

Just like analogue radio which has been regulated for yearS, digital radio will face the same conditions without any dramatic changes likely to be implemented. Whether you like it or not – regulation of digital radio and TV will remain.

It will continue to remain as regulation is needed from a technical point of view as it helps avoid interference between transmitters and ensures the best quality of services for listeners.

Careful planning and coordination are needed on both national and international levels

Regulation planning is like playing with dominoes. If changes are made in one country, this will have a knock on effect of the national plan in neighbouring countries, which will lead to inevitable re-planning of their regulation. Countries need to coordinate with their neighbours, otherwise problems can arise which requires independent arbitration.

A coordinated approach

A good time for cross border collaboration on regulation is the implementation of new market technologies such as digital radio. The coordination of rollout and switch over by all market players in a region is a solution to avoid disagreements. On an international level it is important that access to spectrum and space orbit is secured on an equal basis for all countries.

Protect your own interests

While it is assumed that governmental bodies and spectrum management agencies will work with our own interests at heart, this is not the case. International planning is such a complicated process that even nowadays with all the computers and modern technology it is not possible to undertake international planning without some simplifications. Therefore it is important for those who have an interest in spectrum allocation and management to make sure their voices are heard during the planning processes.

Challenges of spectrum management

The big challenge for spectrum management is to calculate if two transmitters will interfere with each other. In most cases the terrain is ignored and as a result two transmitters either side of mountains are considered as interfering, even if experts know that this is not the case. While it is possible to take into account the influence of topography in simple cases of spectrum planning, it is impossible when taking the whole of Europe into account.

As a result international planning has been simplified to give information on what can and can not be achieved to national administrations. It is down to each of these national administrations to coordinate these details during processes of implementation.

National administrations derive their national plans from international plans but not every administration is working towards planning for a revised spectrum management plan. However when they do undertake this process it is vital to work with broadcasters.

The importance of ensuring radio spectrum is protected during spectrum management planning and allocation

Radio is delivering a public service and distributes information to citizens in ways that other media is unable to. It is robust and low cost and enables coverage of the whole population. This service should be delivered and be available at all times, therefore it is essential that the transition to digital radio from analogue is handled in a timely manner. The cooperation of broadcasters with national administrations is necessary for a successful digital radio roll out. For an eventual analogue radio switch off all citizen need to be covered by a signal and have the possibility to buy receivers at an affordable price

Radim Soukenka
WorldDMB Regulatory & Spectrum Committee Consultant

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