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£180m bailout to save Freeview from 4G mobile broadband

Digital TV transmitter upgradeMobile broadband operators will have to pay out £180m to protect Freeview viewers from losing their signal when 4G mobile broadband services start.

The fund will be used to provide filters or help people move to cable or satellite TV if their Freeview signal is blocked by the new services.

The government is set to auction off some old analogue TV frequencies for mobile phone providers to run high speed mobile broadband.

The 4G frequencies will be very close to Freeview in some areas, and could block Freeview signals for an unlucky few.
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “More and more of us are using smartphones and tablets to access the Internet. Releasing more spectrum is essential to enable industry to meet this growing demand.

“Next generation mobile services are essential for economic growth. They will bring an estimated benefit of £2-3 billion to the UK economy.

“There will be some interference when 4G services are rolled-out but we will have the solutions in place to eliminate the disruption to television viewers.”

Most affected households will be sent a filter which they can fit in the aerial cable to block the 4G signals, and there will be extra help for the over-75s and people who are registered disabled.

If this doesn’t work, the scheme will offer help to switch to cable or satellite TV – probably Freesat but Sky has a no-subscription option.

But if that doesn’t work – such as for those in flats who can’t have cable no satellite – the scheme could spend up to £10,000 helping a household to find a way to keep their TV alive

The scheme will be overseen by a company that will be managed by the operators who win the spectrum auction. Communications regulator Ofcom will run a consultation to decide how this scheme can be run.

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