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Technical Review | April-June 2012

ABU Expected to Take on Practical Roles at ITU and WRC

by Yim Zungkon KBS, Korea

Limited Radio Spectrum for DTV Transition in Korea

On December 30, 2012, Korea will shut down its analogue TV broadcasts and, to that end, all the broadcasters are expanding their digital TV networks in a phased manner, according to the digital TV transition plan. Depending on the regional situation, five or six terrestrial TV broadcast channels are to be serviced in Korea. However the government body, KCC (Korea Communications Commission) has allocated only 38 channels of 228MHz bandwidth from 470MHz to 698MHz to digital TV broadcasting. After the DTV transition, KCC will take back the digital dividend of 108MHz bandwidth in the 700MHz band.

Korea adopted the ATSC (Advanced Television System Committee) TV system as a digital TV transmission standard that generally needs separate TV channels in order to cover shadow areas. Unlike the DVB-T, DVB-T2 and ISDB-T based on the OFDM (orthogonal frequency division multiplex) technology, the ATSC system, based on single carrier method, is not simple to deploy in a single frequency network and needs relatively more frequency spectrum. In addition, there are a lot of weak signal strength areas, such as mountainous areas and islands far from the main DTV transmitters in Korea, and which should be covered by small-power on-channel DTV repeaters.

retains a policy stance to allocate the entire radio spectrum of the 700MHz band to the mobile telecommunications industry.

KBA (Korean Broadcasters Association), which consists of the terrestrial broadcasters in Korea and represents their rights, sent a request document to KCC to delay the plan for the 700MHz band until the completion of the DTV transitionwhich was noit expected to take longer than one and a half years. KBA advised that it would take at least 10 months for stabilising of the DTV network throughout the country, after the analogue-switch-off.

Other than that, KCC firstly passed the agenda of allocating 40MHz bandwidth of the 700MHz band to mobile broadband without any comment regarding the DTV transition in January, 2012.

Free and General DTV Services Prior to the Commercial Use of the Digital Dividend

The radio spectrum is indispensable for a number of services, for communications, broadcasting and other applications. But spectrum is a finite resource and the demand for spectrum exceeds supply and therefore needs to be carefully managed. The main idea of spectrum management is to enable as many users as possible to operate without harmful interference and at the same time to settle the existing services such as TV services in the newly allocated and relocated bands.

Figure 1: The limited spectrum bands for digital television in Korea

Broadcasters’ Request to Delay the Band Plan of 700MHz Band for the Complete DTV Transition

Despite the fact that the interference effects among the new transmission and repeater TV sites are not verified yet, KCC

KBA believes that the broadcasters have a deep understanding of the value of the digital dividend of analogue-switch-off and before considering the band plan, the regulatory body should have allocated the appropriate amount of spectrum to establish, move and maintain the new DTV services. It also believes that the concept of the nondiscriminatory supply of the free and general DTV services to people all over the country should have priority over the commercial use of the digital dividend spectrum.

Some Conflicts Between the Broadcasters and the Regulatory Bodies

Radio spectrum issues are generally dealt with by the ITU (International Telecommunication Union), the WRC (World

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