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New 4G signal could cause TV blackout for 2.3 million households

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As the super-fast 4G network is rolled out, TV signals across the country could be about to conk out.


The 4G network, which is being rolled out this year to increase internet speeds, could cause TV signal problems for 2.3million households. That's 10% of the population.

It will be rolled out from May 2013 and will mainly affect TVs close to 4G mobile base stations and those a long way from a TV transmitter.

To cope with the problem, a new company has been set up with £180 million raised from the 4G network auction.

The 4G blackout

Fourth Generation, or 4G, internet is a super-fast broadband which will provide internet services up to five times faster than the current 3G network.

But the problem is it’s likely to interfere with existing TV signals because it works on the radio spectrum which was originally used for 2G networks. This network, also known as 800MHZ, uses a very close frequency to the Freeview network. This means some Freeview customers will notice signal problems, but those with cable or satellite won't notice a difference.

Those households which use Freeview as their primary TV source, (around 900,000 households) will be able to get free help from the Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited (DMSL) company.

It will contact people who are likely to be affected and give advice about how to avoid any problems. This includes giving out free filters for those households who are likely to experience problems.

These should stop any interference, but they won’t work on all TVs. In these instances customers will be offered alternative ways to watch TV, such as being moved to an alternative satellite or cable platform for free.  

The 4G roll-out

Everything Everywhere (EE) is the only operator with the right to offer customers the 4G network but other providers are currently bidding for licences.

Once these are approved, 4G will be rolled out across the country, with the aim of offering broadband speeds which are much faster than the current rate. This should begin in May and could take between three and five years.

More information can be found on the website AT800 (run by DMSL).

More on 4G

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The cheapest Blackberry Z10 smartphone pay monthly tariffs

Three to offer 4G at no extra cost

Vodafone launches rival 4G campaign

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