4G services could disrupt digital TV signal says Ofcom

Ofcom has highlighted its concerns that arrival of 4G services in the UK could cause problems for digital TV signals.

When the next generation of mobile phones arrive using faster speed internet in 2013 the watchdog is worried that unless firms act 760,000 homes tuning into Freeview services could be affected.

This means that there will be potential interference from mobile base stations that could affect the ability of some people to receive DTT.

It is thought that in some cases it will be necessary to fit a filter to TV sets in order to block interfering signals.

However it is expected that mobile operators lining their pockets with cash raked in from the 4G service will be footing the bill for any expenses incurred according to Ofcom.

In some extreme cases it will be necessary for digital viewers to switch to satellite services where the filters are unable to work.

The fears arise around the 800 MHz spectrum used by mobile operators using 4G or LTE services, with an expectation from Ofcom that if nothing is done up to three per cent of viewers could see problems.

Ofcom says that as the spectrum is close to that used by digital TV it means  “that there will be potential interference from mobile base stations that could affect the ability of some people to receive digital terrestrial television (DTT).”

Proposals set forth following research by the watchdog include setting up an implementation body to provide information to the public and broadcasters, as well as receiving feedback, with the new body being funded by money generated by 800MHz licenses.

Ofcom will also look at alternate methods for avoiding signal disruption, such as “filters for mobile base stations”, and “changes to aerials including reorientation and cross polarisation”.

A consultation will now be carried out by Ofcom, with an expectation to publish results during the autumn.