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Ed Vaizey announces £180m from 4G auction to fix digital TV interference
Tuesday 21 February 2012 19:25:11 by Andrew Ferguson

It seems that more of the money raised from the 4G auctions has been allocated even before the amounts the bidders are willing to pay is known. The terms for the auction are not due to be firmed up until later in 2012, with the actual auction happening event later.

Some £180 million from the auction is to be reserved for fixing interfence caused by 4G mobile networks to the Freeview terrestrial digital TV service. Back in 2011, Ofcom estimated that some 760,000 homes may receive some level of interference from living close to a 4G mast, due mainly to the design of Freeview receivers which does not filter out the 4G frequencies.

The press release from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport indicates that they expect the majority of problems will be fixed by fitting of a cheap filter (£11 plus fitting), some homes may require a new Freeview box, which while standard devices are cheap, PVR and HD enabled boxes cost considerably more. In the most extreme cases households may have to forego Freeview and use a cable or satellite service like Sky or Freesat.

It appears that the DCMS is willing to spend up to £10,000 to resolve the issue for a single household in extreme cases, which is enough to provision a full fibre connection.

Another £150m of other government money is being spent to ensure 4G gets rolled out to some 98% of the UK population, and the 800Mhz bands that cause the problems with Freeview are attractive for rural coverage due to its better coverage and ability to penetrate further into buildings.


Posted by Apilar over 5 years ago
4G to 98% of the population by...?
Posted by timmay over 5 years ago
So they need to receive more than 180 million from the auction ... fat chance!
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Not sure of time scale, probably the grand May 2015 that broadband has I expect. Rollout of 4G expected to start in 2013.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago

Weren't the original 3G licenses in the region of £22bn?
Posted by timmay over 5 years ago
For some reason I though the figure was £22m ... just checked and it was just over £22bn. Shocking, no wonder it's been said that they paid too much.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago

I guess we are the ones that really paid for it, poor speeds/coverage on average etc.
Posted by zyborg47 over 5 years ago
So good old Great Britain mucked up again, get a T.V system and then stick a mobile broadband system that is close to the same frequencies.

what person got paid the millions to think of that one?

Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Spectrum is limited, so I guess they always had in mind something like this, once the demand for mobile broadband was seen.

Question is how will people know which freeview boxes now already have appropriate filtering, i.e. negating hassle factor in the future
Posted by vicdupreez over 5 years ago
There is only a huge demand for mobile broadband because the connectivity on landlines is so poor... We keep patching old systems to keep them running, and keep chucking wireless to fix it when there is an obvious fix.
Posted by vicdupreez over 5 years ago
Give us the fibre we need, and most of these issues will go away. I would bet that if there is a large scale fibre deployment in the UK, not tied to any one operator (ala Australia) and Virgin gets there act together, you will see a lot of cable TV everywhere else in the UK. That way they should be able to turn off terrestrial TV altogether...

I know they can not do that... Just imagine what would happen if they could though... Freeview through fiber :D.
Posted by c_j_ over 5 years ago
"no wonder it's been said that they paid too much."

Do some sums.

Pick a plausible number of 3G punters. Say 10million.

Pick a plausible number of years over which to pay for the licences, say 5 years. Less than that is daft, much more than that and some other geektronics will be along.

So that's £20 billion repayable over 5 years across 10 million punters, just to pay for the licences, ignoring infrastructure and other minor details.

That works out to £400 per punter per year. Roughly.

And the telco idiots couldn't see that they'd massively overpaid!

Posted by otester over 5 years ago

Probably the MP's which are on the pay role of the corporation that's going to 'fix' it.


I doubt they had much choice, it was an auction after all...
Posted by c_j_ over 5 years ago

It was indeed an auction.

So do some basic sums in advance and work out how much you can credibly afford to bid. When some other richer (stupider?) company goes beyond that, you don't HAVE to follow.

If they'd spent less on licences there might have been more to spend on coverage. Or it might just have gone in bonuses and dividends.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago

Personally I think the best idea would have been something like MBNL and avoid the auction all together.
Posted by TavistockSFB01822 over 5 years ago
Whatever is paid for the 4G Spectrum. The end user will have to pay. So there should be no gloating when billions are raised.

Certainly more than enough to roll-out superfast broadband to the rest of the UK without it. Then again 4G LTE will be able to do its part in this.
Posted by Northwind over 5 years ago
What an appalling waste of money just so that people can keep watching Eastenders.
Posted by FibreGuy over 5 years ago
A key point to remember is that there is no shortage of spectrum simply a single shared electromagnetic field therefore the inadequacy rests with the receiver not the transmitter.

Spectrum policy dates from the days of crystal radios, amplitude modulation and all the energetic and bandwidth deficiencies present in that legacy technology.

real time software defined radios with active avoidance largely remove the need for spectrum reservation
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 5 years ago
wasn't the massive debt taken on to bid for 3G licenses the main reason for the BT/cellnet(o2) split?
Posted by Bob_s2 over 5 years ago
This was a very daft idea using frequencies close to those used by Freeview. It will be an ongoing problem and I have no doubt the interference problems wil be far more extensive then their estimate
Posted by jroadley over 5 years ago
I'd just like a good 3G signal.
Posted by TGVrecord over 5 years ago
It looks like my decision to go with Freesat was a very wise decision. Freeview is just so flaky. Even if I am lucky enough to get a signal it goes haywire if an electrical appliance is used like my paper shredder!
Posted by michaels_perry over 5 years ago
4G will be transmitted in the 800-900 MHz range part of which is currently used for terrestrial TV broadcast channels 62 - 69, which includes several DTTV services. These will be moved to 'free up' the spectrum required for 4g, thereby forcing yet another retune onto Freeview users unlucky enough to use those frequencies.
Please see my next post
Posted by michaels_perry over 5 years ago
The 'interference' is due to measured adjacent channel effects and a filt may help some. The issue is greatest where the freeview tranmisster is at some distance from the receiving aerial but the 4G transmission site is closer, giving a relative field strength greater than the DTTV signal.
Please see my next post
Posted by michaels_perry over 5 years ago
No filter is perfect and they do not have a sharp 'cut off' so some homes will still get problems. £10,000 is not enough to provide a rural viewer with any cable/fibre service not already existing if the distance from source/exchange is more than a few hundred metres! That leaves out most rural viewers!
(I am a retired broadcast TV engineer with 50m years experience in the industry.)
Posted by pfvincent over 5 years ago
"In the most extreme cases households may have to forego Freeview and use a cable or satellite service like Sky or Freesat."

Surely that should be "a satellite service like Freesat", which is the only service comparable to Freeview. Cable and Sky services have an ongoing subscription cost (even if you only want the basic channels), whilst Freeview is free once the equipment has been bought.
Posted by searcher100 over 5 years ago
Ever tried watching a live event on freesat or sky when There is snow,hail or heavy rain in the space between the satellite and your dish. Most frustrating and spookily lost reception when bbc news were explaining the high court judgement when the pub land lady won her case to use a foreign satellite card to watch football.
Posted by pdthomas1952 over 5 years ago
Notice the coverage statement? 98% of the population, vastly different from 98% of the UK.

Mobile internet is a joke more because of its coverage than its speed so yet again the emphasis is on speed, the fact that it is totally unusable outside large cities will not be fixed and so it will remain a joke and probably with 4G a very expensive joke.

My guess would be that if there was a large uptake by users of 4G there would be insufficient bandwidth in the areas where it is available so reducing speed anyway.
Posted by TGVrecord over 5 years ago
I frequently watch live TV on Freesat and I have only once been affected by excessive snow on one occasion. I just used a broom to clear the snow off the LNB and had no issue after that. Some people do have problems with satellite reception in poor weather conditions but if you have a small measly 43cm dish you get what you deserve. I have a 60cm dish and have excellent reception.
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
I wonder if I can cash in on this. I am right on the edge of freeview coverage, its a reasonable assumption that a 4G mast will be closer, I dont have a freeview box tho. So would they let me claim for costs of fixing the issue?
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