Communications minister Ed Vaizey has written to Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards detailing the terms for the help scheme designed to support TV viewers affected by the launch of new 4G telecommunications services.
In a new move Vaizey says the installation of filters should be provided to vulnerable consumers using the same criteria as for digital switchover. The government also says it will fund any overspend.
The letter – which follows an Ofcom consultation on the issues for digital TV raised by the launch of 4G services – says help will be available for the 900,000 digital terrestrial television (DTT) homes which Ofcom estimate will be affected when 4G is introduced next year.
“Many of those consumers will also be viewers of DTT and some of those will unfortunately have those TV services affected by the LTE services unless action is taken to deal with interference,” wrote Vaizey. “The Government is keen to mitigate the effects of interference, so that no television viewer loses access to television services.”
The announcement was welcomed by the DTT marketing platform Freeview, which has taken on the unlikely role of consumer champion.
“Freeview welcomes the Government’s announcement of additional support to be given to households to meet the costs of installing filters where necessary to protect TV services against the impact of 4G interference. This was a clear omission in earlier proposals,” said Freeview managing director Isle Howling.
“However, we remain concerned that viewers living in flats, many of whom will be on lower incomes, will not be covered by the Government’s plans. Additional TVs will not be supported either. It is unfair for Government to expect viewers to foot the bill to protect their existing services from 4G interference.
The statement added that Freeview believes it would be in consumers’ interests that Government and Ofcom to mandate a trial of 4G services in a limited area before proceeding to national roll out.