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2 Million UK Households Could Lose Digital TV Due to 4G Mobile Broadband

Thursday, May 17th, 2012 (9:29 am) - Score 913

The governments Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, has confirmed that around 2 million UK households could have problems viewing Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) services because of interference caused by a new generation of “4G” superfast Mobile Broadband services operating in the soon-to-be-auctioned 800MHz (790-862MHz) radio spectrum band.

Ofcom revealed last year that 4G services were likely to cause interference for 3% of UK homes (760,000 households) and as a result the government eventually setup a £180 million fund (this money would come from mobile operators that bid for the 4G spectrum) to help affected homes resolve the problem via special filters, different TV platforms or changing aerials etc. But the problem now appears to be significantly bigger than first thought.

Sophie Chalk, Voice of the Listener & Viewer (VLV), said:

These proposals to sell spectrum to mobile phone operators in order to raise millions for the Treasury could remove the option of free-to-air television from millions of viewers. This runs completely against the UK’s system of public service broadcasting whereby there is universal access for all citizens to programmes made by the main terrestrial channels. It is an outrage.”

According to the DailyMail, Ed Vaizey told Tory MP Anna Soubry, via a written parliamentary answer, that an estimated 945,000 households which use signal amplifiers to boost their TV reception could be affected and another 953,000, which rely on communal aerials, could also be hit by the 4G evolution.

Until recently the 800MHz (790-862MHz) radio spectrum band was still being used for old analogue television (TV) services (it still is in some parts), although by the end of 2013 it will have been re-purposed for use by a new generation of Long Term Evolution (LTE) based mobile internet connectivity (unless Ofcom are forced to delay the auction itself).

Unfortunately the £180m fund would not cover households that have “non-standard aerial installations” or TV sets with indoor aerials (indoor DTV aerials are usually rubbish anyway), which means that some home owners could be forced to shell out up to £200 for a fix. Ofcom are due to publish updated 4G auction proposals soon.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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