Many will have to buy new TV sets
This year around 100,000 Swedish households will have to buy new TV sets or boxes for over-the-air reception. This because the government has re-allocated some of the frequencies used for television to the mobile phone network.
With the change, the entire 700 MHz band will be available for mobile telephony and broadband services. This means that those who subscribe to extra channels with the Boxer system will have to get new equipment, says Marcus Hartmann, head of communications at network operator Teracom.
“If you have an old TV which can’t receive the new transmissions, you might have to buy a new one,” he tells Swedish Radio News.
The switchover will be rolled out gradually across the country, starting in Norrbotten in the north in April, and finishing one year later in Skåne.
When the over-the-air digital channels leave the 700 MHz band and move to lower frequencies, they will have to share that space with the existing channels. To make room for all, they will use a system using less spectrum space called T2. Most modern sets and Boxer boxes can receive T2, but older units cannot.
The old sets will still work for receiving the free channels from SVT and TV4. But users may have to do a new channel scan to find them after the switchover.
Broadcasters have opposed the shift, saying that it is going too quickly and is poorly prepared. They also say problems may arise which could disturb reception in some areas. This has happened before, and can happen again, says Per Björkman, head of distribution at public broadcaster SVT:
“In the worst case, we may need to set up new small transmitters in some areas, in order to compensate for the weaker signals, and it will take several months before they are installed,” he says.
Another consequence of 17 high definition channels being moved to share the same spectrum space as the existing channels, Per Björklund says, is that SVT will no longer be able to use HD for its children’s and educational channels, Barnkanalen and Kunskapkanalen.
After the shift, the entire 700 MHz band will be available for mobile services. According to the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority, which will be allocating the new frequencies by auction, the primary goal is better coverage. The agency’s Caroline Boström says current blankspots will be filled in.
“This means that consumers around Sweden will get better coverage,” she says.