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UK completes transition from analog to digital TV, frees spectrum for future LTE networks

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Gallery Photo: Samsung ES800 LED and E8000 plasma hands-on pictures
Gallery Photo: Samsung ES800 LED and E8000 plasma hands-on pictures

At midnight this morning, the United Kingdom finished its switchover from broadcasting analog television signals to digital, bringing to completion a five-year transition between the two formats. As reported by The Guardian, the project was coordinated by Digital UK, and came at a cost of £1 billion, with the final signal being shut off in Northern Ireland. Regular television transmissions in the UK began back on November 2nd, 1936, with a BBC broadcast from north London. The US completed a similar move to digital television in 2011.

The transition has the potential to dramatically impact the UK when it comes to another type of service: LTE wireless connectivity. The Inquirer reports that the 800MHz spectrum that had been utilized for the analog broadcasts will now be repurposed for cellular data. Auctions for the spectrum are slated to begin sometime before the end of the year — though repeated delays have made it likely that the UK won't see an LTE rollout on that spectrum until well into 2013. In either case, it's an important step forward — and with EE providing the UK its first taste of LTE speeds next week, we imagine the pressure will be on for the freed spectrum to be repurposed sooner rather than later.