• The Council of Ministers today approved a royal decree releasing the 700 MHz band of the radio spectrum currently occupied by digital terrestrial television to make room for 5G technology
  • The Second Digital Dividend process will be completed before June 30, 2020, complying with the schedule established by the European Union
  • The offer of existing channels will be maintained at present. The channels will have until January 1, 2023 to evolve to high definition
  • The communities of neighbors affected by the change of frequencies will have subsidies to pay for the adaptation of their collective reception systems

The Council of Ministers today approved two royal decrees to facilitate the development of 5G networks in Spain. With the first royal decree, a new National Technical Plan for digital terrestrial television (DTT) was approved and the release of the Second Digital Dividend was regulated. The second royal decree regulates the direct granting of subsidies designed to compensate the costs derived from the adaptation of the collective systems of reception of audiovisual communication services.

The Second Digital Dividend is a key process to allow the deployment of 5G networks, by releasing the 694-790 MHz band (hereinafter, 700 MHz band) of the radioelectric spectrum, which is currently partially occupied by DTT. This is a European-level project regulated by Decision (EU) 2017/899 of the European Parliament and the Council of 17 May 2017, which aims to ensure a coordinated approach to the use of this band in the European Union.

The release of the Second Digital Dividend will end before June 30, 2020, thus complying with the calendar established by the European Union and with the road map published by the Ministry of Economy and Business on June 29, 2018. The Government will call a public tender to assign that band to the operators so that it may be available to offer 5G services before June 30, 2020.

Bet on the 5G

As of that date, the 700 MHz band will be available for the provision of services associated with the fifth generation mobile telephony, within the 5G National Plan. Thus, the commitment to place Spain among the leading countries in the development of this technology is maintained, which will boost the competitiveness of the business fabric and facilitate the emergence of disruptive innovations, in line with what is set out in the Agenda for Change.

The new National Technical Plan for DTT approved by the Council of Ministers identifies the radio channels currently used by television and replaces them with new radio channels in a lower band (470-694 MHz).

The Technical Plan maintains the current offer of digital terrestrial television channels unchanged. Each digital multiple, whatever its scope of coverage, will have the capacity to integrate up to four television channels in high definition.

The Royal Decree by which the new National Technical Plan is approved also establishes the technical procedure for proceeding to the aforementioned channel transfer, as well as the conditions for its continuity, and includes the technical specifications of terrestrial digital television broadcasts in high definition and ultra high definition.

A deadline of January 1, 2023 is established, in which all television channels must evolve to high definition and technological adaptation of digital terrestrial television receivers is contemplated. After the expiration of nine months from the effective date of the Royal Decree, the obligation is established for all the devices placed on the Spanish market to include the capacity to receive emissions with the DVB-T2 signal transmission technology, in addition to the broadcasts in high definition. The larger ones should be compatible with ultra high definition broadcasts and incorporate broadband connection capacity and interactive HbbTV services.

Public aid

The change of frequencies of DTT will involve in the coming months an adaptation of the reception facilities in most of the national territory, in the same way that happened in 2015 with the process of releasing the 800 MHz band (First Digital Dividend) . Individual dwellings will be excluded from this adaptation, where only televisions should be retuned.

The Council of Ministers has approved a royal decree of aid that regulates the direct granting of subsidies worth 150 million euros for the communities of owners for the adaptation of television reception facilities. The amounts of the subsidy range between € 104.3 and € 677.95, depending on the infrastructure previously installed.

The Government aims to minimize the impact of the process on citizens, as well as on operators and the set of audiovisual communication service providers, who have been informed of it at all times. The deployment will be developed in full coordination with the neighboring countries, not only with those belonging to the European Union, subject to the same process, also with Morocco and Algeria.

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