The UK’s primary Mobile Broadband operators have today setup a new company called Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited (formerly MitCo), which will work to ensure that 900,000 UK homes don’t lose Freeview Digital TV (DTV) services when the new 4G (LTE) products, via the 800MHz band, arrive next year.
Under the plan EE (Orange UK, T-Mobile), O2, Three UK and Vodafone will contribute towards an £180m pot of cash that will then go towards tackling any interference created by the new 4G services. Any other operator that bids for a slice of the 800MHz band will also be expected to join the new group.
The governments Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey MP, revealed in July 2012 that “around 2.3 million households could be affected” by interference from the 800MHz band, which was previously used for analogue TV and now sits right next to the current 700MHz based Digital TV services. Sadly only 900,000 will actually receive financial support because they are “likely to rely” on digital terrestrial TV services “for their primary viewing“.
Maria Miller, Culture Secretary, said:
“The roll-out of 4G is a huge step forward for mobile broadband services in the UK, and will be incredibly important in driving economic growth. I am pleased that the mobile operators will be working together to ensure that no viewers lose their television services when 4G is rolled out, and congratulate them on setting up the assistance scheme so quickly.”
Ed Richards, Ofcom’s CEO, added:
“This is further evidence of the progress that is being made by the industry, guided by Ofcom, to deliver 4G mobile services across the UK. The 4G auction is already on track to begin at the end of the year and the creation of Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited ahead of time represents yet another step towards bringing consumers early access to the next generation of mobile broadband services.”
Eligible households will receive vouchers that can be used to cover the cost of a special filter, which in “most” cases can simply be attached to a TV receiver in the living room. Other situations may require an engineer visit to fix the filter onto your rooftop aerial or help those with special needs (disabled).
In cases where this doesn’t work the money will instead be used to fund platform changes, such as allowing the household to adapt a cable or satellite based TV service instead of the normal terrestrial one. Further details about who will and won’t be covered can be found in our original article.