Over 2 million homes could find their TV reception is affected by 4G connections when the high-speed mobile signal is rolled out in their area, an Ofcom report has suggested.
Millions of TV watchers could suffer from interference, image distortion and the loss of channels due to the introduction of superfast 4G mobile broadband, which allows users to use online features of their smart devices more rapidly and easily while on the move.
Latest findings have suggest that the most affected viewers will be able to install a filter to block the 4G signal, but for those living closest to the 4G base stations the signal could be too strong for the filter to be effective.
This filter, which could cost up to £10,000 to install per television, would only be affective for Freeview televisions, whilst satellite TV viewers would not be affected. Those unable to switch to satellite or cable TV providers could be left without access to terrestrial TV channels altogether.
However, ministers have promised a £180 million help scheme, funded by the mobile phone operators currently bidding for 4G licences in an auction run by Ofcom, to help fund filters or alternative options for those homes whose TV reception is affected.
Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, MP John Whittingdale, has urged for the national 4G launch to be delayed while tests and trials are carried out across the country.
“One of my concerns is 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,” said MP John Whittingdale, speaking to the Daily Mail.
“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.”
In an attempt to tackle the problem across the country, Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited (DMSL), a not-for-profit organisation, has been created and are currently assessing the severity of the disruptions to come.
“I looked forward to working closely with broadcasters and mobile network operators to ensure everyone continues to be able to receive their current TV service,” said Chief Executive of DMSL, Simon Beresford-Wiley.
“DMSL plans to pre-empt the majority of potential interference issues cause by 4G at 800 MHz and existing TV services. We’re focused on being able to provide anyone who may be affected with the information and equipment they’ll need to ensure they continue to receive free-to-air TV.”
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