Defending your TV reception: Ex Central TV presenter Anna Soubry MP raises questions in Parliament over 4G interference

An MP who started off in television is now defending your right to interference-free reception once 4G networks go live. 

Former Central News East presenter Anna Soubry, now MP for Broxtowe has raised the issue of 4G interference in Parliament, specifically relating to viewers using communal and amplified aerials. In written answers to parliamentary questions, the Culture Minister Ed Vaizey responded confirming that hundreds of thousands of viewers could be affected.

The Conservative MP for Broxtowe, pictured in 1988 presenting Central News East.

She asked the secretary of state what his estimate is of the number and proportion of households reliant on communal aerial systems and [reliant on] using amplification equipment to boost television signal strength that will be affected by interference to their terrestrial digital television service from the use of spectrum by 4G mobile services.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey responded stating that the matter raised "is an operational issue for the independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), which is accountable to Parliament rather than Ministers. Accordingly, my officials have spoken to Ofcom, who advised: On 23 February 2012, Ofcom published a second consultation on co-existence between new services in 800 MHz and existing digital terrestrial television services.

Within this consultation document Ofcom estimated that the number of households using signal amplifiers was 9 million of which up to 945,000 could be affected and the number of households using a communal aerial system was 5.6 million of which up to 953,000 households who use communal aerial systems could be affected. 

Ofcom estimates that the numbers of affected households could fall to 5,100 and 3,400 households respectively once a mixture of consumer based and selective mobile network based mitigation methods are applied." [see also "Ofcom made a mistake in calculating affected households, claim digital terrestrial television stakeholders", below]

Anna Soubry continued with a question about an estimate of the households with more than one television set that would be affected. 

Mr Vaizey responded: "The matter raised is an operational one for the independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), which is accountable to Parliament rather than Ministers. Accordingly, my officials spoke to Ofcom, who advised: Ofcom's modelling does not differentiate between the number of television sets a household has. Its technical assessment is based on whether or not the ability to receive DTT signals from a properly installed and well maintained roof top aerial is affected by LTE transmissions)."



  Ofcom made a mistake in calculating affected households, claim digital terrestrial television stakeholders   

The multiplex operators and broadcasters that submitted a joint response to the "second consultation on the co-existence of new services in the 800 MHz band with digital terrestrial television" critised Ofcom because Ofcom's estimate of affected households assumed that all digital multiplexes were using a forward error correction rate of 2/3. In fact, commercial multiplexes have mostly been changed to a rate of 3/4, with the rollout of the revised error correction rate to be completed in post-switchover regions by early July. The official response of the broadcasters and multiplex operators states: "The consequence of this oversight in the Ofcom analysis is that the modelling is likely to underestimate the number of households affected by LTE interference – therefore, the mitigation costs faced by DTT households will also be underestimated." Read the whole document at the following link: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/949731/responses/Joint_PSB_and_MuxCo_response.pdf

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