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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 889

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.

Leave a Comment
13 Responses
  1. Avatar Deduction says:

    If it affects me they can either pay/supply gear to fix the issue or kiss goodbye to their TV license as suddenly i will not have equipment capable of receiving a broadcast.

    1. Avatar Bob2002 says:

      If you view a _live_ TV picture on any device, including over the Internet, you need a licence. If you only watch previously recorded programmes you’re OK.

  2. Avatar Infinidim says:

    If this happens to me I believe I am well within my rights to take the Govenment to court over this and get them to provide me equipment so that I can receive all the freeview channels.

  3. Avatar Deduction says:

    Technically speaking to the EXACT LETTER of law regarding a TV licence, you do not need a licence to view iplayer (even when watching it so called live) over the internet although the bbc website and government claim you do. It is not a “live” broadcast for numerous reasons. Including the fact it has to “buffer” first, hence not “live” and lags several seconds behind that of live digital TV.

    Has not been challenged in a court yet but only a matter of time the way the future of TV is going.

    1. Avatar Somerset says:

      No chance, there are delays in live digital TV due to the coding/decoding and that’s defined as live.

  4. Avatar Deduction says:

    The delay in live digital freeview TV is due to decoding done by your TV/set-top box it is down to the equipment at your end. There is no “encoding” done only “decoding”. The delay in decoding the signal is down to the processing power of equipment you own. Thats is if you watch BBC one side by side on digital with analogue why the analogue signal appears to be about half a second or so ahead… In reality it is not, it is broadcasted at the same time but the lag is down to your equipment.

    To illustrate further, walk into your local currys, whack the volume up on all the TVs, it wont be in time. Although the picture on each set looks like it is being decoded in the same time frame it is not, some will decode milliseconds before others. Thats why they never have volume up in a TV department anymore.

    Watching iplayer over the internet the broadcast…
    1) Is not live
    2) Is technically a “RECORDING” of live content as in the case of watching that on your PC it is “RE-ENCODED” into a “.MP4” stream and “.FLV” container.
    3) It is not the broadcasted signal. A freeview signal broadcasts with a “.TS” container and “MPEG2” codec…… Iplayer doesnt use either, thus what you are watching on iplayer can not be live and can not be the original let alone the live broadcasted signal.
    Your TV licence with regards to digital Freeview TV is for a digital broadcast in a “.TS” container format. Iplayer doesnt have that.

    Sooner or later things like this, especially as the future is likely to be more TV over the internet is going to be challenged. NO TV what i am aware of at the moment is LIVE TV in a technical sense…… It is all re-encoded and thus you are watching a recording….. A very quickly re-encoded and decoded recording but its still a “RE-ENCODE” can argue it all they wish that a licence is required…. TO the very letter of the law though it is not.

  5. Avatar Deduction says:

    Last paragraph and second sentence should obviously read
    “NO TV what i am aware of at the moment OVER THE INTERNET is LIVE TV…”

    Its a recording, has to be a recording because the original broadcast is being re-encoded.

  6. Avatar Deduction says:

    Ive just looked at this even more… Even if they dispute all of the above it is still not a live broadcast TV.

    In addition to the above. The resolution of iplayer stuff be it so called live streaming or on demand stuff is not even a match to the original broadcasted content.

    SD content has a weird beyond SD horizontal resoultion and HD content is only 720p rather than 1080i or 1080p which it broadcasts in. Hardly live, let alone what is being broadcasted.

    They can dispute it all they wish, what you watch on your computer is not the live broadcast.

  7. Avatar DTMark says:

    “They can dispute it all they wish, what you watch on your computer is not the live broadcast.”

    That’s my understanding too (e.g. BBC iPlayer). Except in my case, the computer has a TV card in it, so I can watch live TV on it as well. Which does need a licence.

    1. Avatar Deduction says:

      Yep a tv tuner card, if you watch tv through that needs a licence as that is receiving the original broadcast, not a re-encode or recording.

  8. Avatar SlowSomerset says:

    Lucky you can watch Iplayer on your computer, no chance of that here the Connection is so slow.

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      Can only watch it reliably with the 3G connection. ADSL is too slow.

      Ironically, when I stream something from YouTube I see ads “stream like a dream with BT Total Broadband”.

  9. Avatar Smile4G says:

    Hey this 4G isnt so bad, none of the TV cards or dongles I have work in my computer due to it running a non-standard over the shelf operating system from the likes of Apple or Microsoft.

    In some respect it pays to be a nerd, because I then went out an shelled out £19.99 for a Android smartphone with 4G my experiance of using 4G so far has been a pretty possitive one.

    Imagine FREE Internet 24/7 where-ever you go, in contrast to Wireless Hotspots from the likes of BTOpenZone that expect you to shell out money with a credit card for a few hours worth of internet. Because the 4G handset ships with the Google Android operating system, then you can simply enable the phone to act as a wireless tether and create your very own wireless hotspot right their in the living room and access the Internet with almost broadband speeds.

    Screw television!

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