£180m scheme to address 4G digital TV interference
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey has unveiled a new £180 million scheme that aims to find solutions to digital TV signal interference caused by next-generation mobile services.
Telecoms industry watchdog Ofcom is set to auction off spectrum for 4G mobile technology at the end of this year, with the first services expected to be introduced by network operators from 2013.
While 4G will offer a substantial boost to mobile data services, the technology will also cause interference to Freeview reception for some households. According to Ofcom, up to three per cent of digital terrestrial TV viewers - representing around 760,000 people - will be affected by the issue.
Solutions to the problem will be sought through the introduction of the new scheme, which will be funded and run by the network operators that purchase the spectrum.
Most affected viewers will simply need to fit their TV with a filter that will be supplied by the scheme, although extra support with installing these devices will be offered to people who are registered disabled and the over-75s.
However, some households may find they need to change platform from Freeview to cable or satellite - a process that will be funded by the newly-announced initiative.
Other homes will still suffer from impaired digital TV reception even if they move platform or fit a filter. In this case, up to £10,000 per property will be used to resolve the issue.
Explaining the initiative, Mr Vaizey insisted releasing additional mobile spectrum is "essential" to enable communications providers to meet the growing consumer demand for data services on the move.
"Next-generation mobile services are essential for economic growth. They will bring an estimated benefit of £2 billion to £3 billion to the UK economy," he added.
"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."