There is no possibility of white smoke in the Flemish Digital Frequency Plan File (DAB+) at the moment, as shown by the answer of Flemish Information Minister Benjamin Daly (CD&V) to a written question from Flemish representative Claes Slootmans (VB).
We have in the past Explained before That in 2021 – when the start signal was given – Flanders was already very late in developing and negotiating a frequency plan (local and supra-local) internationally for Broadcast Band III, the spectrum in which DAB+ occurs. It is also a clear observation that concluding such international agreements has become increasingly complex in recent years. Therefore it takes longer. Whereas five years ago you could conclude international agreements on DAB+ in less than a year (see Wallonia in 2018), now you can call it a success if you reach an agreement in less than three years.
In this sense, the answer to Slootmans’ question about the situation in this digital frequency file is not surprising. Although Daly’s answers provide, for the first time, more insight into the actual (Flemish) situation. Complete questions and answers You can find it herebut we provide the really important answers below.
1. Negotiations with neighboring countries are still ongoing. As mentioned earlier, neighboring countries have modified DAB+ plans and efforts are being made to reach global reciprocal agreements with most neighboring countries. A number of administrative-level meetings are scheduled to be held again this fall with Germany, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. There are no final agreements yet because everything is interconnected and this is a delicate balancing act. In principle, a frequency plan for local and supra-local DAB+ can only be drawn up after final (technical) agreements have been reached with all parties involved.
2. In principle, the final frequency plan for local and supra-local DAB+ will be a so-called “assignment” frequency plan through which the frequency will be made available to each area. Then, as with national DAB+ frequencies, the number of fixation points and the powers used can be chosen, but depending on the technical parameters that will follow from final agreements with neighboring countries and/or other communities. Certain capabilities and/or other restrictions may also apply within Flanders in order to cause as few disruptions as possible.
Determining a specific timing is difficult today because Flanders depends on the good will of neighboring countries. For example, administrative consultations with France were halted for a while due to staff shortages on the French side. My administration is doing everything in its power not to delay the entire process. In addition, an ongoing radio study could also provide additional insights. The results of this study are expected to appear by the end of January 2024.