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Launch of 4G could cause TV “chaos” for millions of households


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

February 17, 2013 | 3 min read

As preparations step-up for the launch of a new super-fast 4G mobile broadband signal across Britain later this year, reports have suggested that it could disrupt television reception for 2.3 million households.

While millions could see TV signal interference, some 40,000 homes could lose their signal altogether.

While there have been no public warnings, the problems have arisen amid confusion as the 4G spectrum is close in range to the band used by millions of customers of Freeview.

It is has been reported that to prevent the interference, householders will have to book a visit from an engineer to install a filter free of charge, but that people with more than one television set may have to pay £5 for extra filters on each TV.

DMSL, the agency overseeing the launch, is believed to be building a website and setting up a call centre in expectation of problems.

A source told the Telegraph: “This could be the great consumer crisis in waiting. The switch-on could cause chaos across the country.”

UPDATED: A DMSL spokesperson told The Drum that these figures are, however, designed to show the maximum negative effects: “The numbers cited as a total that could be affected are early worst-case estimates, but in fact, there's little reliable data. In Sweden and Germany, where national 4G networks at 800 MHz have been rolled out and digital TV is also broadcast, fewer than 100 households experienced problems. DMSL is running pilots ahead of any commercial launch of 4G at 800 to better predict how many homes may be affected in the UK.

"To be clear on how the public would receive initial support: DMSL would identify homes within 1.5km of base stations that its model predicts may suffer interference and provide a free filter, before the 4G transmitter is switched on. Interference is only likely to be experienced by some homes in this radius depending on, amongst other things, the relative location of TV transmitters and 4G at 800 transmitters. Only in the case of vulnerable groups or where filters may need to be fitted on rooftops, would an engineer visit.

"Even in a worst case scenario where interference approaches some of the numbers mentioned, the nature of the rollout of mobile services is that coverage is incremental so there is no chance of millions simultaneously being affected 'overnight'. DMSL is running pilots to ascertain a better understanding of the level of the potential issue to help with scaling its resources appropriately.”


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