4G less harmful to Freeview reception than first feared

Tests show 4G networks don't interfere with Freeview television reception as badly as was anticipated

Michael Passingham
5 Apr 2013

4G networks won't interfere with Freeview television signals as badly as first feared, tests have revealed.

In February, the regulator Ofcom set aside £180 million to resolve television reception issues caused by the 4G rollout, predicting 2 million Freeview blackouts. However, initial testing in the West Midlands has seen only 15 reported signal dropouts caused by the 4G signals, compared with the 120 that were predicted.

4G was introduced into the 800MHz broadcast spectrum, which used to be occupied by analogue television. Freeview runs close to this spectrum, and is the only service expected to be affected by the 4G rollout.

The study was conducted by at800, a working group set up to stem problems associated with the introduction of the high-speed mobile internet service, and covered 22,000 homes in the Cradley Heath and Rowley Regis area. Engineers from Ofcom and the BBC were also involved in the research.

Of 100 complaints about Freeview reception, 15 were associated with 4G masts. All of the complaints were from viewers using signal-boosting amplifiers, and in all cases were solved by installing a filter between the aerial and the amplifier.

"This was a useful, small-scale test," said Simon Beresford-Wylie, chief executive of at800. "We’ll now improve our forecast model and look at the approach we use to tackle the issues we’ve seen."

Further tests are expected to take place during April and May in other areas where 4G is rolled out.

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