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Vouchers to Help 900000 UK Homes Fix TV Loss Caused by 4G Services

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012 (8:26 am) - Score 1,262

The governments Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey MP, has set out the terms for a £180 million scheme to help 900,000 UK homes avoid the loss of Freeview Digital TV (DTV) services, which is expected to be disrupted by interference from the next generation of superfast “4G” (LTE) Mobile Broadband services.

In an open letter to the communications regulator, Ofcom, Vaizey noted that “around 2.3 million households could be affected” by interference on the 800MHz spectrum band for 4G services, which is due to be auctioned off in Q4-2012 before coming into service at the end of 2013. But only 900,000 will actually receive any financial support because they are “likely to rely” on digital terrestrial TV services “for their primary viewing“.

The solution, according to Vaizey, is to provide “eligible households” with vouchers that can be used to cover the cost of a free-of-charge filter, which in “most” cases can simply be attached to a TV receiver in the living room. Sadly some situations will also require an engineer visit to help fit a filter on the rooftop aerial or to assist people with special (disabled) needs, which is estimated to cost around £50 +vat but will be provided free under the scheme.

The scheme will also provide funding to support platform changes, where fitting a filter alone cannot restore an “acceptable level” of TV reception (e.g. switching to a cable TV (Virgin Media) or Freesat service); between 38,500 and 17,000 homes are likely to fall into this bracket. Unfortunately an estimated 500 homes will have no alternative and in such extreme cases the government will “look at alternative ways of restoring good OTT reception, up to a limit of £10,000 per household“.

Ed Vaizey MP, Communications Minister, said:

The high speed mobile broadband services which will be launched in the 800MHz spectrum will bring significant economic and social benefits to the UK as a whole and to consumers and businesses. Many of those consumers will also be viewers of digital terrestrial television (OTT) and some of those will unfortunately have those TV services affected by the LTE services unless action is taken to deal with interference.

The Government is keen to mitigate the effects of interference, so that no television viewer loses access to television services. However, in order to arrive at a fair view of the appropriate budget with which to implement mitigation measures, it is necessary to make a number of assumptions.”

Sadly there are still some cases where home owners can expect no assistance at all, such as for interference issues that result from problems with set-top aerials, cable TV equipment or local TV services. For example, customers of cable TV, who may suffer some interference if they are using an older box, will instead be told to contact their cable provider for a fix. Similarly ,”no support should be offered for any interference caused by mobile handsets using a 4G service, where a practical solution is to move the handset away from the TV,” added Vaizey.

As reported before, the money for all this work will come from mobile operators that are licensed to provide services in the 800MHz spectrum band. Crucially Mobile Network Operators (MNO) will need to “work together to deliver the scheme” and must establish a body, commonly known as Mitco, to handle its management.

This week’s move follows shortly after the Shadow Minister for Media, Helen Goodman MP (Labour), warned that both Ofcom and the government were “running out of time” to resolve the problem (here). Ofcom will now need to adopt the governments new terms into their proposals before publishing a final recommendation in the very near future.

Ed Vaizey’s Open Letter to Ofcom (PDF)
http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/letter-dcms-ofcom-10072012.pdf

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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8 Responses
  1. Avatar SlowSomerset says:

    Ok so where are these areas ?.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Part of the problem with doing that, as Vaizey suggests in his last paragraph, is with how their estimation has been based on “assumptions” until the service is actually available. I think Ofcom’s prior consultation had some details on the model used but they don’t appear to have done a proper map.

      Another problem here is with how long it will take to resolve these problems once they emerge, nobody knows the answer. The figure of 900,000 is a logistical nightmare to tackle.

  2. Avatar Phil says:

    sick of this government to be honest, they once again kept us in the dark with their secret. One rule for them and other rule for us.

    1. Avatar Kyle says:

      What secret? I assume that you won’t be making use of LTE when available or do you fall in the bracket of those who complained about mobile masts in their neighbourhood but also about the poor coverage they received beforehand?

  3. Avatar Deduction says:

    QUOTE”……The scheme will also provide funding to support platform changes, where fitting a filter alone cannot restore an “acceptable level” of TV reception (e.g. switching to a cable TV (Virgin Media) or Freesat service)”

    I can only assume from that (not shockingly) the idiot doesnt know Virgin costs money EACH month, and is NOt like Freeview or Freesat. I highly doubt the government are going to pay thousands of peoples monthly cable bill and if they did i suspect the scroungers of society will then start whining they aint getting free cable.

    QUOTE”Unfortunately an estimated 500 homes will have no alternative and in such extreme cases the government will “look at alternative ways of restoring good OTT reception, up to a limit of £10,000 per household“.

    Further demonstrates how clueless they are if you think for that money you can suddenly provide a TV service to anyone in an area that has no current (or should that be future) TV service. Maybe they also think a TV transmitter can be knocked up with sticky back plastic and cardboard?

    QUOTE”…Similarly ,”no support should be offered for any interference caused by mobile handsets using a 4G service, where a practical solution is to move the handset away from the TV,” added Vaizey.”

    Great thinking there also, ill just shout at anyone outside that walks past on their mobile phone, which in turn affects the TV aerial reception, or go round and slap my neighbour if they dare talk on the phone next to the adjoining wall my TV is mounted on……. Yeah nice thinking there you tool!

    It really makes me wonder if this man given his track record since being in charge of “communications” (cough, slutter) has any damn clue about anything tech related.

  4. Avatar cyclope says:

    @Deduction, lol, thing is with cable it’s coverage is patchy at best, so the majority of those affected would find it not available in their area another load of swollocks spouted by government But if their poxy 4G disrupts terrestrial tv (freeview) then they should fix the problem FREE OF CHARGE if that means installing a freestat system then so be it, I personally feel that they should have given freeview boxes free of charge or the BBC should have done it,
    They want to change the Radio too bye bye FM hello DAB so all car radios that are not DAB will become useless, why should the consumer have to go and spend money just because the government say so? dont the take enough in taxes already?

  5. Avatar Bob says:

    This scheme was bound to cause extensive interference. Something they intially denied. THey have no real understanding of how extensive the problem might be. In many cases a filter may not solve the problem

    The FREESAT solution does not totally solve the problemas currently FRESAT does not carry all the Freeview channels

  6. Avatar Deduction says:

    The other issue with replacing Freeview with Freesat is it isnt that easy.

    Some voucher aint gonna help those in a block of flats, nor is it gonna help homes with conservation and similar orders, where you can just go randomly bolting stuff to the walls.

    They are idiots this just confirms it.

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