TV interference from 4G phone services will affect up to a million households, requiring the installation of filters to prevent problems.
Up to a million UK homes will need to have special filters fitted to prevent interference to Freeview TV from 4G mobile signals, and a further 10,000 will need to switch their TV service entirely to satellite or cable to avoid poor picture quality.
When analogue TV is switched off later this year the free spectrum will be auctioned off for the next generation of mobile phone services, known as 4G. The winners of the auction will be required to pay for the costs of making sure viewers of digital television will not be affected by the changes.
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Interference with TV
However, Ofcom estimates that about 760,000 homes situated close to 4G transmitters could be affected by interference to their Freeview TV reception. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) thinks that number will be even higher – closer to 900,000.
These houses will have to fit a filter to their aerial leads to block out the interfering signal. But in around 10,000 homes a filter won’t be sufficient and they’ll need to switch away from the Freeview service entirely and use satellite or cable TV systems instead.
There may even be a small number of homes where this solution won’t work as they can’t receive Sky or Virgin services and up to £10,000 per household will be provided to fund alternative solutions, such as paying for the installation of alternative services.
Costs and fitting
The cost of the filters, switch to an alternative TV provider or other solutions must all be met by the mobile phone provider. Filters will be provided automatically if you live within a given distance of a transmitter and can be fitted without the help of an engineer though help will be provided if you are disabled or over-75. It’s not yet known when 4G services will be rolled out, but it could be as soon as the end of 2012 or early-2013.
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