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UPD London Tests Find Fears of 4G Knocking Out TV Signals are Overblown

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 (8:04 am) - Score 711

The at800.tv (DMSL) group, which is jointly funded by £180m from UK mobile network operators, reports that preliminary results from 170,000 homes in South East London (England) have identified NO cases where 4G (LTE) based mobile services in the 800MHz band have disrupted terrestrial TV services.

Ofcom originally predicted that more than 2 million homes across the United Kingdom could be affected by interference from 4G mobile phone services. As a result the Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited (aka – at800.tv) group was established to tackle this problem, although their funding is only intended to help the 900,000 homes that are likely to rely on terrestrial TV services “for their primary viewing” (e.g. by offering special filters to block the interference).

Part of DMSL’s remit involves conducting a series of real-world tests to identify the true scale of the problem but so far these early tests have revealed some surprising results. The initial study conducted in Cradley Heath and Rowley Regis (West Midlands) with around 22,000 homes during late March 2013 discovered that just 15 homes suffered reception problems (well below the official forecast of 120).

Now at800.tv reports that the first major urban test after that, which took place in South East London (specifically parts of Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets) from 15th April 2013, similarly uncovered only minor problems.

Simon Beresford-Wylie, CEO of at800, said:

London is a big and important market for 4G services and also has millions of Freeview viewers. Clearly it was essential for the broadcasters and the mobile operators that we run trials in London before a rollout of 4G at 800 megahertz.

Whilst it seems unlikely that there will be issues for the vast majority of television viewers in the capital, we will remain alert to any possible interference when rollout commences.”

It should be stressed that the study in South East London was conducted in part of the 800MHz band that sits further away from the local 700MHz based terrestrial TV services. The latest phase of testing with 28,000 homes in Brentford and Isleworth (London Borough of Hounslow) and 80,000 in Brighton might turn up something different as in these areas the local TV services are “transmitted on frequencies that are particularly close to 800MHz“.

However at800.tv noted that the study in Brighton had also unearthed only “a handful of issues” (this test is still on-going). Suffice to say that any money not spent by at800.tv will go back to the mobile operators and it now looks increasingly likely that much of it won’t even be needed.

UPDATE 1:32pm

A comment from the boss of Freeview.

Ilse Howling, Managing Director of Freeview, said:

We are encouraged that the London pilots appear to have caused little inconvenience to Freeview viewers. More tests are necessary to ascertain the impact of 4G in a variety of geographical areas and under different test conditions. We will continue to work with at800 and ensure any disruption to Freeview viewers is kept to a minimum.”

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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