at800 revises Freeview interference impact figures

Following a series of tests conducted across the country, at800, the organisation responsible for protecting Freeview when 4G at 800 MHz is rolled out across the UK, has provided a new estimate of the likely scale of the impact.

It states that if national rollout reflects the results seen during its tests, at800 expects no more than 90,000 households, with Freeview as their primary TV service, to experience disruption caused by 4G at 800 MHz.

at800 has now sent postcards to households in London and the surrounding areas in preparation for the activation of 4G at 800 MHz masts over the coming weeks and months. at800 is also sending postcards to other areas of the UK ahead of masts switching on. at800’s mailing does not mean that 4G services will be available to consumers. For information about the availability of 4G services, people should contact their mobile operators.

4G filters block interference
In London, in particular, Freeview received from the Crystal Palace transmitter is unlikely to be affected by mast activation because of the strong terrestrial television signal and its relatively large frequency separation from 4G at 800 MHz. Here, many households use "Group A" aerials, which are optimised to receive lower frequencies and not the ones to be used by 4G. Despite this, at800 is sending postcards and running a publicity campaign to ensure anyone who does experience new disruption to their Freeview service knows how to get in touch.

Around the capital, reception trouble is more likely to be an issue in locations around the fringes where relay transmitters fill in coverage holes from Crystal Palace transmitter. Many of these relays use frequencies adjacent to the 800 MHz 4G frequency band.

Across the UK, Freeview reception trouble is more likely
  • in areas where the Freeview signal is weaker and boosters are in use;
  • where Freeview uses frequencies closest to the 800 MHz frequency band to be reassigned for 4G;
  • and where high-gain wideband aerials were installed - especially prior to digital switchover, where such aerials may have been needed to get a decent pre-switchover Freeview service. Such aerials are optimised to receive services across the UHF frequency band including the 800 MHz band, previously used for Freeview.

Freeview is being cleared from future 4G frequencies
Once 4G clearance completes next month in Northern Scotland, the whole of the 800 MHz band will be free of Freeview channels and 4G can be expanded everywhere.
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