Fewer problems than forecast with TV reception during UK 4G test

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

at800 has completed its first live test to help assess the extent to which Freeview* could be impacted when new 4G mobile services at 800 MHz are launched later this year. Fifteen households in the test area reported problems with TV reception caused by 4G. Before the test, at800’s forecasting model predicted 120 households would be affected.

Approximately 22,000 homes surrounding the 4G at 800 MHz masts were sent information in advance of the testing asking them to contact at800 directly if they experienced problems with Freeview. Over 100 calls were logged by at800 from these households. Professional aerial installers, as well as TV signal experts from at800, the BBC and Ofcom, visited locations that reported problems to verify their cause.

All issues that could be attributed to 4G at 800 MHz were in television systems with signal amplifiers, either in communal blocks or domestic installations where the amplifier was attached to the aerial. A filter that blocks 4G signals at 800 MHz resolved problems seen by viewers when installed between aerial and amplifier.

Simon Beresford-Wylie, chief executive of at800, said “This was a useful, small-scale, test. We’ll now improve our forecast model and look at the approach we use to tackle the issues we’ve seen. Further extensive evaluation will occur during April and May as masts are switched on for tests across larger urban areas.”

at800’s preparations for the commercial rollout of 4G at 800 MHz continue with a second phase of testing. These will focus on urban areas covering a larger number of addresses. at800 expects to be able to announce plans for a second test soon.

* The tests were conducted in the Cradley Heath and Rowley Regis areas of the West Midlands between 18 and 30 March 2013
** 4G mobile services at 800 MHz and digital TV operate in adjacent parts of the radio spectrum. Equipment that receives television signals, such as aerials, amplifiers, and digital tuners, can fail to block 4G at 800 MHz. This can cause loss of sound, blocky images or loss of some or all Freeview channels. Freeview is the television viewers receive through their aerial. BT Vision, YouView, Talk Talk and Top Up TV also provide Freeview services. Satellite and cable TV services are unlikely to be affected by 4G at 800 MHz.

at800 will contact those households it predicts may be affected by this issue before 4G at 800 MHz is switched on in their area. It will also contact businesses, social housing departments, care homes, hospitals, schools and colleges to advise what action needs to be taken. Special arrangements are being made to support vulnerable people.

Domestic at800 filters are smaller than a pack of cards and when installed correctly block 4G frequencies at 800 MHz, enabling viewers to receive and watch Freeview as normal.