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UPD UK Black Country Towns Help Test Terrestrial TV for 4G Mobile Interference

Friday, Mar 15th, 2013 (8:42 am) - Score 700

Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited (DMSL), which was setup by mobile operators and the government to tackle any Digital Terrestrial TV (Freeview) related reception problems caused by interference from the new 4G (LTE) based Mobile Broadband services in the 800MHz band, have announced a pilot project to assess the issue in two towns.

The pilot, which will take place in Cradley Heath and Rowley Regis (England – West Midlands) between 18th March and 1st April 2013, is expected to ask several thousand local homes and businesses for feedback in order to “assess the extent to which Freeview services might be disrupted” by 4G (expected to go live later this spring).

Previous estimates and studies from Ofcom have suggested that more than 2 million homes in the United Kingdom could be at risk of losing their TV services due to interference from 4G in the 800MHz band, which sits right next door to the 700MHz spectrum used for DTTV services.

Sadly only around 900,000 homes, specifically those that rely on DTTV services “for their primary viewing”, are likely to receive any help from DMSL (e.g. installation of special filters) and the rest will need to find an alternative solution (e.g. satellites or cable TV).

Pilot Statement

Households and other addresses that might be affected have been contacted by post.

If you live in the Cradley Heath and Rowley Regis area and notice interference to your Freeview service between 18th March and 1st April 2013, please contact at800 by calling 0333 31 31 800. You will be asked for your postcode, the type of interference and the time it occurred. This will also allow at800 to restore your service as soon as possible.

At800 has advised that if you’ve not been contacted through the post, or you watch cable or satellite TV, any interference to your Freeview service is unlikely to be due to the 4G test.

In case anybody has forgotten, at800.tv is a website that was setup last month by DMSL (here) to act as a central point of contact and information for related interference problems. Never the less today’s news might leave many people scratching their heads in bemusement as to why such real-world tests have been left until the last minute.

Simon Beresford-Wylie, CEO of at800.tv, said:

I’m delighted that just two weeks after the license awards, we are already in a strong position and about to begin our first pilot. This is an important phase and will give us a clearer picture of how many people are likely to be affected. We’ll do our best to ensure minimum disruption to viewers in the area as we gather the information we need.”

Meanwhile most consumers would like to see a clear map of the country that could be used to indicate areas where interference problems are most likely to occur. Hopefully the new pilot will contribute enough information to make such a map possible as the currently available data is somewhat limited.

at800.tv has so far signed contracts with five manufacturers to ensure an “adequate supply of filters that, in most cases, will eliminate interference from 4G services“. The companies providing filters
for consumers are: Filtronic, Link Microtek, Philex, Radio Design and Televes. Filters that display the at800 logo are said to have been “extensively tested” by the Digital TV Group (DTG).

In other countries the issue of 4G interference at 800MHz has not turned out to be nearly as bad as expected.

UPDATE 12:16pm

Added a few extra details about the filters above, including a quote from at800.tv’s CEO.

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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