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Freeview and 4G interference mitigation scheme outlined
Wednesday 11 July 2012 13:54:29 by Andrew Ferguson

A scheme with a £180m pot of money to resolve interference problems between those 4G networks that utilise the 800 MHz frequency band and Freeview TV was announced back in February. Now we have Communications Minister Ed Vaizey detailing how he perceives this scheme as working. The £180m is to be taken from the money paid by the mobile operators as part of the 4G auction process.

The fact that only 4G networks utilising the 800 MHz spectrum will potentially affect Freeview TV is an important point to make, and while it is expected that this band will be popular in the 4G auction, there are other frequency bands up for grabs. The lowest frequency band has the advantage of a better range from the base station, and better penetration into buildings. Though to what extent these advantages are weakened by possible requirements to reduce mast power output to reduce interference is a big unknown.

Ofcom originally indicated that it thought 2.3 million households would be affected by the 4G issue, but once you break this down to households who rely on Freeview for their primary viewing it is a smaller figure of 900,000.

"It is these 900,000 homes which should receive the assistance necessary to enable them to continue to view the services they are used to.

The support offered should be as follows:

  • the provision of information;
  • the provision of filters free of charge (on a proactive and reactive basis); and
  • platform changes where fitting a filter alone cannot restore an acceptable level of TV reception.

I have also decided that extra support, including the installation of filters where needed, should be offered to vulnerable consumers, where "vulnerable" is defined on the same criteria applied under DSO."

Extract from open letter by Ed Vaizey Communications Minister

Those who require extra support, e.g. fitting a filter due to a masthead amplifier, will get a voucher for £50+VAT, based on the figure that a typical charge from an installer should be at this price. Not all homes will find fitting a filter will fix things, some 38,500 fall into this category, and where other tweaks (e.g. limited base station power) does not resolve the problem, extra money will be spent to provide Freesat or cable TV. If 4G handsets and dongles support suitable alternate bands, one extreme option would be to turn off the 800MHz band in very badly affected areas.

With an Ofcom consultation underway already on pushing 4G down the spectrum lower into the 700MHz band, then any filters installed may actually need changing in a few years. The EU is keen on creating a harmonised 700MHz band across Europe for 4G mobile broadband, so chances are further changes to Freeview are very likely. We guess this means that those who qualified as a Digital Installer for the Digital Switchover, may be in work for a good few years yet.


Posted by otester over 5 years ago
Freeview needs to go.
Posted by ronray over 5 years ago
How are they going to cover the full cost of Freesat or Cable over the lifetime of the user? With Freeview you can watch a different channel in any room in the house on any TV. If you tried to do this with Freesat you would need a very expensive setup and you would also need a Freesat box for every TV. Who will paty for the extra electricity and replace the boxes when they go wrong? Who is going to pay for all the extra cabling needed to run Freesat to each room in the house to give you the same flexibility you had previously with Freeview?
Posted by timmay over 5 years ago
It is only the people that have problems when 4G is finally available that will need to consider alternatives. Chances are that they are people that already have problems because of having a very marginal signal to start with. Which will likely mean that they are already using sky/freesat/cable.
Posted by ronray over 5 years ago
Yes I know it's only up to 38,500 people. Maybe some already have problems. What I was trying to say is that a Freesat dish and box on it's own won't give you the same flexibility as Freeview. But I suspect that's all they will be offered.
Posted by tommy45 over 5 years ago
@ronray, that would be an improvement on what i currently have, no sky or other subscription based TV here, I ain't paying the premium for repeats ect
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
@ronray The subsidy will just cover the main viewing TV in the home.

I guess the limit has been placed to avoid those who can afford five or six TV's from abusing the system.

With Freeview it uses electricity and there is no replacement of the settop boxes if they break. So not sure why that enters into argument.
Posted by fibrebunny over 5 years ago
How would those with multiple TV's be abusing the system? If a household has six TV's with freeview inbuilt then they would be at a loss. A naff freesat box for one tv hardly compensates. Even with a freesat box they would still suffer loss as freesat does not carry the same channels as Freeview.
Posted by astanden over 5 years ago
How do we find out which areas will be affected?
Posted by astanden over 5 years ago
How do we find out which areas will be affected?
Posted by ronray over 5 years ago
I've got 6 TV's in the house and all of them have built in Freeview tuners. So if I was one of those 38,500 people how would a single Freesat enabled TV compensate me for the loss of Freeview? How would I be abusing the 'system' by expecting the same level of service I had before the spectrum was sold off?
Posted by ronray over 5 years ago
My built in tuners don't use any more electricity than the TV does - because they are built in. The Freesat tuners would not be built in - unless I was supplied with new TV's that had them built in but they are few and far between. Even if this was done the really messy and expensive would be running the cables through the walls for the Freesat feeds from the dish.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
@ronray perhaps see if the TV already has the appropriate filter installed already.

How common is six freeview tv's in a house? The 4g launch is a yearaway and then network build will take time, in that period the face of TV may change.

If its unfair, then make sure you lodge a complaint, but chances are that you will not be affected, and even if you are filters will fix it.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago

You mean 3.9G launch?

Wasn't aware they were launching LTE Advanced any time soon...
Posted by ronray over 5 years ago
@andrew. I expect that virtually all TV's in a house would be enabled for Freeview either now or in the very near future because there will be no analogue signal. You would struggle to buy a new TV now without Freeview buit in.
I expect most people have multiple TV's in a house.
Posted by ronray over 5 years ago
For those 38000 with severe interference they would have to run the coax cable direct from the dish to each TV in the house plus buy Freesat tuners to get a similar service to what they had before - and let's be honest here - this will be the case for most of the 38000 houses because the majority have more than one TV now.
Posted by ronray over 5 years ago
I'm very unlikely to be effected but I'm just trying to highlight how unfair I think this is to those that will be. How would you feel if you had multiple TV's in your house and then you find you can only watch one. Not very practical for those with a large family etc.
Posted by ronray over 5 years ago
Just spotted an interesting implication. It sounds like there will be 1.4 million homes that won't get anything because they don't use Freeview as primary viewing. Even though it's very liely they will have Freeview other TV's in the house. So that's another load of people stitched up.
Posted by ronray over 5 years ago
Also fair to assume that some of those 1.4 million houses will have severe signal issues (probably about 50,000 based on the ratio for houses with Freeview as primary viewing). So they won't be able to use other TV's in their house either unless they put expensive multiroom systems in.
Posted by Ronat over 5 years ago
Just strikes me that it is just a PR exercise. Let's make all that money from the sale, and give a tiny bit back to those affected. Not going to work for you? Tough. We are still going to make money. They don't really care about those people who they can't help.
@andrew. I think it is ridiculous to say that people who have 6 tv's would be abusing the system. Why should anyone suffer because government is desperate for extra cash. No one had a say about the analogue signal closing,so they did the only thing by updating to digital.
Posted by searcher100 over 5 years ago
Our analogue signal turned off some time ago so it is either Free view (On-digital) or Freesat or pay TV. So the Government said it had no links to sky then said There may be a problem where 4G will ruin the Free View signal for a couple of Million people. It looks a little like they are handing a lot of people over to a satellite platform which is absolutely useless during heavy rain or snow,hail etc. And who knows what will happen during a solar flare period.That could knock-out a whole load of satellites.
Posted by GrahamMills over 5 years ago
I thought that Andrew's comment was very blase. Typical response from a bureaucrat.
My houisehold of 2 has 4 TV's. Lounge, Kitchen and 2 bedrooms. If I had a couple of Children that could easily be 6.
"Make sure you make a complaint" - which will of course be ignored.
Posted by AaronT over 5 years ago
I have to ask why are we even thinking of licencing frequencies that will cause interference?
Posted by RichBeardman over 5 years ago
I must agree with Aaron T. The frequencies for the farce which was digital staggered TV switchover have been known for years. What idiots (or greedy bureaucrats) would think of offering a frequency band for auction that would interfere with the freeview signal. Again, government of the people not for the people.
Posted by ronray over 5 years ago
I wish I knew how to confirm if I will be effected. I'm thinking of buying a Freeview HD PVR - maybe even a YouView box. But this would be a waste of money if my Freeview gets wiped out.
Posted by mugwump1200 over 5 years ago
I have 3 freeview antennas with masthead amplifiers and distribution amplifiers.I have 2 HD Bluray/DVD recorders (expensive) 1 HD PVR machine and several Standard Definition recorders all Freeview. All rooms have Freeview facilities and Freeview pictures are excellent. Theere are 2 base stations close by. If I have to go to Freesat I require EVERYTHING to be paid for.....
Posted by mugwump1200 over 5 years ago
Freeview HD is my primary viewing because I like to record quality programmes to Bluray disc or.. is it my Sky HD because I can view more programmes in HD but cannot save them to Bluray disc for archiving? Obviously I want both.Is the government going to check my equipment and decide which I am allowed to have? This is nonsense. I have suggested that test transmissions are carried out to see what problems arise before licenses are sold.Base stations which cause interference must be closed down or drastically reduced in power until everyone who is affected is happy.
Posted by dejavu59 over 5 years ago
@mugwump1200 12 days ago
Freeview v FreeSat no contest, FreeSat wins hands down. Why? - Because Freesat allows the viewer the functionality of regional programming and recording, Freeview is fixed. Watch TV from a Freeview service and all you'll get is fixed BBC/ITV programmes over the air from your transmitter - okay you might get a few independant channels over & above FreeSat, but invariabley these are repeats just like Sky. I have a FreeSat/Freeview TV c/w FreeSat HD PVR and can record 2 channels at the same time whilst watching 1 and can copy/export to an external HDD.
Posted by dejavu59 over 5 years ago
Also with FreeSat live in the Shetlands, watch English South East or whatever, postcode friendly. :)
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