Call to delay 800 MHz 4G rollout as TV interference fears surface again

The chairman of the House of Commons' Culture, Media and Sport select committee has called for the national launch of 800 MHz 4G to be delayed until local trials have been carried out, amidst ongoing fears of TV interference which has surfaced in several press articles in the past 48 hours.

800 MHz 4G services, scheduled to start next May/June, using former TV frequencies, would interfere with Freeview services being transmitted on neighbouring frequencies. Householders would be required to fit filters to block the interference.

John Whittingdale MP told the Mail today ... and the Express yesterday... that he was concerned about the fact that the "Government is making the filters available only for households primarily using digital terrestrial TV, and yet there will be a large number of additional households that have second sets and they will not receive filters.

"I have been informed that 38,500 households will still be affected after filter installation and that, of those, perhaps 18,000 will be primary digital terrestrial television households."

"People will be very cross if they suddenly discover they no longer can get their Freeview TV service without massive interference because of the mobile phone companies. We do need to be absolutely certain we can predict which households are going to be affected and we know to what extent it’s possible to take mitigating measures." 

A delay of the national rollout would enable local field trials to take place first to assess how households are actually being affected and how best to support them, in a similar vein to the early localised digital switchover events in Ferryside and Whitehaven.

Up to £10,000 will be made available to the 500 worst-hit households, in a confirmation of the plans outlined earlier this year by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). For those living closest to an 800 MHz band 4G base station, the interference could be so bad, that terrestrial television will no longer be an option, with householders being forced to switch to cable or satellite television.

Viewers receiving services from the Crystal Palace and Winter Hill transmitter groups serving London and the North West of England respectively have been identified by Ofcom as the areas expected to be the worst affected by the introduction of 800 MHz 4G services.
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