Communications minister, Ed Vaizey, has promised extra government funding for meeting the costs of installing filters to protect Freeview TV customers from interference from next-generation 4G mobile phone networks.
In February an Ofcom consultation revealed up to a million homes could have their Freeview TV reception interrupted by the launch of next-generation 4G mobile networks, due to launch early next year. 4G networks will eventually replace the current 3G mobile networks and offer far superior mobile data speeds more akin to home broadband connections – read our what is 4G LTE? guide for more information.
It’s now clear that 900,000 households living within a 2km radius of any 4G phone mast can expect to have interference to their Freeview TV signals. The government had planned to provide free filters for people to install themselves, but it made no provision for those with more complicated setups where self installation wasn’t feasible. The additional funds announced will, says the government, solve this issue.
Freeview & 4G interference – what’s the solution?
The government has now confirmed that while they expect most TV viewers will be able to solve problems by fitting a filter themselves, some homes will require an engineer to install the filter. In such cases the government has pledged that vouchers for up to £50+VAT will be provided to pay for the installation.
In the very limited number of cases where filters cannot improve the TV service, assistance will be provided to switch to free-to-view satellite (Freesat) or to cable TV. Extra support will also be offered to vulnerable consumers.
Consumers who are eligible for vouchers to pay for professional installation include anyone who lives in a block of flats, or those who have masthead amplifiers, both of which require professional installation.
More needs to be done
Which? welcomes this announcement but notes that only one filter will be provided free-of-charge to households. The many homes that have two of more TV sets will still have to pay to secure additional filters leaving them out-of-pocket through no fault of their own.
Consumers will additionally have to suffer the inconvenience of installing filters themselves or arranging for an engineer to do this for them. Clearly there is more that government could and should do here to allay homeowners’ worries.
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