Outfit which will save your Freeview TV from 4G interference stands up
Hurray, 4G signal! Boo, the telly doesn't work! Call DMSL
The UK's mobile networks, in agreement with Ofcom and the Ministry of Fun, have set up a company to spend the £180m assigned to make sure that Freeview reception isn't knocked off the air by 4G.
Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited will fill the role described as "MitCo" (mitigation company) in the various consultations and discussions Ofcom has been having around the subject over the last year or so. The company will be joint-owned by the operators and chaired by one Andrew Pinder, who'll be responsible for spending the cash to mitigate interference issues, or, more accurately, he'll be responsible for trying to avoid spending the cash while still mitigating the interference.
The money will come from the 4G licenses which go up for auction early next year, and will be spent providing filters to households whose Freeview reception might be hit by 4G moving in next door - with up to £10,000 available to houses where filtering isn't good enough and Freesat isn't practical. But anyone expecting cheap cable will likely be disappointed as any left over cash goes back to the operators so Pinder will no doubt be motivated to spend it with care.
The cash is needed as LTE, the 4G technology of choice, will be snuggled up next to Freeview transmissions in some areas, and most Freeview boxes lack the fidelity to avoid picking the LTE signal up. In most cases a cheap filter can be put on the aerial cable, but if there's a booster involved - as there often is, to achieve a decent Freeview signal - then it can make cutting out the LTE signal impossible.
No one knows how bad the problem will be, though Ofcom's guess of two million homes seems to be the most respected figure - so Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited will have its work cut out.
The operators, Ofcom and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport (aka Fun) are all keen to tell us how they personally pushed through this agreement to get the 4G deployment rolling. In fact it's a long expected and necessary step on the winding road towards competing 4G networks, but very welcome none the less. ®
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