This week the DCMS announced a programme to ensure anyone affected by interference from 4G mobiles would be compensated. It’s taken a while, says Julian Clover
As much as anything the remaining question surrounding the interference issues involved in the deployment of 4G mobile and broadband services is how did it take the authorities this long to come to their realization.
My memory kind of plays tricks with me these days, events of a few years ago turn out to have taken place over an even longer time frame, but I would say it was as long ago as 2007 when demonstrations took place at IBC to show the problems that might come if advanced telecom services were to find themselves on frequencies adjacent to broadcast channels.
Since then there have been a series of calls from trade organisations representing the broadcast community, also including Cable Europe, DigiTAG, the EBU, BNE and the ACT, warning that interference, particularly from LTE terminals, remains a serious threat.
In 2010 an Ofcom commissioned report into the possibility of interference from LTE handsets to DVB-T receivers concluded the installation of high quality filters and aerial flyleads can resolve the majority of issues.
There are two forces at play here. The first is the desire by governments to raise funds from telcos willing to spend their way into a market leading position. The second the certain requirement from the public for ever greater amounts of broadband capacity. Your opinion as to whether or not the process is a good thing or not probably depends on if you are buying or selling.
Of course the broadcasters don’t have a say in the matter. This so-called second Digital Dividend is being handled in slightly different ways depending on the market. But it is generally assumed that it will be the telcos that get the capacity and the broadcasters just have to put up with their lot.
It’s just that video is expected to take 90% of broadband traffic within a few years and much of that will come from the broadcasters pushing their content onto tablets and mobile devices.
It says the average cost of a platform change – moving the consumer to either satellite or cable – will be £350 per household. The licensee will be expected to meet any costs incurred. Extreme measures, where no satellite or cable reception is available, includes the installation of new DTT relays and further restrictions on the licence holders. About 30,000 households (0.1%) could lose one or more multiplexes.
But it is not just DTT that is affected, in extreme cases cable and satellite boxes also face problems and a sideline in this week’s statement from the DCMS suggested as much as £10,000 could be spent on homes where neither a filter or a shift to another platform is an adequate solution. Is that for a personal relay station or just a metal cage?