Freeview's Ilse Howling: 4G interference cost underestimated

Another day, another 4G interference story.

Freeview's managing director Ilse Howling has called on the Government to make sure there are sufficient funds to deal with the problem. 

The new 4G mobile broadband service will use part of the waveband currently used for television services. Most of the frequency band is being cleared at switchover, but further clearance work will take place from October onwards. Due to aerials and TVs being designed to receive services in the frequency band to be used by 4G, and the close proximity of TV services to the 4G band, millions of households will require a filter.

The worst affected will be those within 2km (1 1/4 miles) of a 4G base station (which will mean most of us will be in that range). Interference and loss of Freeview and other digital terrestrial channels are likely without a filter system in operation. In addition, it will significantly impact services scheduled to transmit on UHF channels 59 and 60, the frequencies closest to those to be used by 4G mobile broadband base stations.

Speaking to the BBC, Ilse Howling stated that she thought the Government had underestimated the costs of protecting households from interference. Rather than the £180 million to be set aside, the organisations behind Freeview estimate it will cost closer to £400 million. That's because many households will need the services of an aerial installer to complete the task of installing a filter. In addition, the proposed scheme would only cover the main TV set in the household.

Last week, East Midlands MP Anna Soubry raised the issue of interference to viewers with indoor and communal aerials, who are not catered for under the current proposals to limit interference. Meanwhile, on a technical note, the broadcasters and multiplex operators noted last month that the numbers of households estimated to be affected were flawed because Ofcom had not taken into account the changes to the forward error correction rate used by commercial multiplex operators. Interestingly, by being able to calculate the number of affected households, there must be sufficient plans showing where the 4G sites are proposed to be.
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