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MP Claims Ofcom Slow to Save 2Million UK Freeview Homes from 4G Woe

Saturday, Jun 30th, 2012 (1:48 am) - Score 857

The Shadow Minister for Media, Helen Goodman MP (Labour), has today warned that both the UK government and Ofcom are “running out of time” to find a solution for the “4G” (LTE) Mobile Broadband interference problem, which could leave up to 2 million UK households without a full ability to watch Freeview based Digital TV (DTV) services.

Ofcom revealed last year that the forthcoming launch of superfast 4G services, which are expected to be made available via the related 800MHz spectrum band by early 2014, were likely to cause interference for some UK homes (here). Initially it was thought that this might “only” affect 760,000 households, although the figure was recently revised upwards (here).

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The regulator’s related consultation closed on 19th April 2012, yet Goodman is concerned that Ofcom has “yet to make recommendations as how to deal with this issue“. Her concerns have today been expressed as part of an open letter to her counterpart, Ed Vaizey MP, in the government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). We’ve posted this in full below.

Helen Goodman’s Letter

Dear Ed

I am writing to you regarding the disruption caused by signal interference that will be suffered by just under 2 million freeview viewers when the 4G services become active.

As I am sure you are aware Ofcom’s consultation on how to resolve this issue closed on 19 April 2012. More than two months have now passed since that consultation closed but Ofcom are yet to respond to the consultation and bring forward recommendations.

With 4G services now less than a year away from becoming active we really are running out of time to find a solution. At the moment it is unclear whether the Government will compensate people affected or expect the industry to do. It is also equally unclear whether people will have enough time and support to mitigate the potential effect of interference before 4G services commence.

When will Ofcom be making recommendations and will you undertake to resolve these issues by the time of the summer recess?

There is a real danger that unless urgent action is taken millions of viewers will see their freeview services disrupted. This would be completely unacceptable.

Yours sincerely,

Helen Goodman
Shadow Minister for Media and Telecommunications

In fairness two months isn’t much time for Ofcom, which has a lot of equally complicated matters to tackle, and the government has already setup a £180 million fund (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 / aerials etc. But this was established before the new figure of 2 million had been confirmed and more money could now be required.

Meanwhile the regulator is about due to publish its updated 4G auction proposals, although recent legal threats and delays stemming from the 1800MHz situation with Everything Everywhere (here) can’t have helped.

Mark-Jackson
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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