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800MHz 4G to launch with Freeview disruption for just 90,000 homes across UK

No more than 90,000 British homes will suffer Freeview interference from 4G mobile broadband, with operators in London getting the green light to launch.

Predictions following months of real-world tests have deflated the worst fears of interference made by computer models when the 800Mhz mobile services were announced.

Interference is most likely to crop up for homes with a weak Freeview signal where a 4G mast is built in between the home and TV transmitter.

800MHz 4G to launch with Freeview disruption for just 90,000 homes across UK
AT800 has been looking for people suffering interference from its 4G tests

Read Recombu Digital’s guide to the 4G Freeview FailAT800, the body set up to solve 4G Freeview interference problems, said many of these homes have already switched to Freesat, Virgin Media or Sky.

“In Brighton in particular we have seen interference, but it’s much lower than predicted by the computer model,” said an AT800 spokesperson.

“In areas of weak Freeview signals we often find that people have already switched to different platforms, but when you are producing a forecast model you cannot just guess where this self-selection process will happen.”

AT800 has been running tests since February 2013 in the West Midlands, south and west London, Brighton and York to measure the impact of 4G test transmissions.

It has stockpiled more than a million 4G Freeview aerial filters in anticipation of nationwide problems, which will be sent to every home at risk of interference.

It is delivering postcards to every home, business and public building in London to advise them of the risks to Freeview, which broadcasts at 470-790MHz.

Freeview’s 4G, 5G and extra HD future: do you have the right TV aerial?Homes in a 4G danger zone are more likely to suffer interference if they have a Freeview signal amplifier and a wideband TV aerial.

Some types of aerial – particularly those most common in London – will reduce interference from Freeview because they exclude the 800MHz frequencies used by 4G.

Communications regulator Ofcom said it was happy with the testing results from AT800, which is funded by the UK’s big four mobile phone operators.

“We are pleased that the trials are showing that number of homes affected by 4G is likely to be relatively small,” an Ofcom spokesperson told Recombu Digital.

“We are conscious of the fact that the trials so far have only been based on a handful of 4G base stations in areas of strong signal strength. They are going to be doing some more pilots and we think that’s a good idea.

“What the pilots show so far is that the problem is going to be manageable within the budget that AT800 has for mitigation.”

No mobile operator has yet said when they will launch 4G services at 800MHz, but 02, Vodafone and Three will be keen to catch up on the head start gained by EE, which already has 500,000 customers.

EE was able to launch 4G in November using old 2G mobile frequencies at 1800MHz, far away from Freeview signals.

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