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Freeview suddenly UNWATCHABLE dross? It may just be a 4G test

Mobe broadband fired up to stress telly transmissions rather than show quality

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AT800 - the guys tasked with stamping out radio interference caused by 4G mobile broadband - will switch on 4G transmissions near Dudley to see if Freeview survives the experience.

It's feared national 4G deployment at 800MHz will disrupt terrestrial telly viewing for about two million homes, but exactly how many and what mitigation they'll need is unknown, so the fortnight of testing that kicks off today is critical to establishing just how bad things are going to be.

AT800, or Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited to use its proper name, has £180m of network operators' cash to spend, and is charged with ensuring that 4G networks won't knock out the neighbouring Freeview transmissions. The plan is to proactively provide filters to homes where interference is expected, and has set up a pretty website for those who find the filters ineffective or can't work out how to fit them.

So far AT800 has been collecting filters from an unsurprising handful of suppliers - Filtronic, Link Microtek, Philex, Radio Design and Televes - and is busy with an enormous roll of stickers to show they've been tested and are approved.

Residents left of Birmingham and south of Dudley are asked to report if their Freeview starts playing up in the next couple of weeks as the testing progresses and we finally start to get some idea how bad the problem will be.

Any money left over will go back to the operators, who'll be hoping for a resounding silence, but widespread problems will indicate something more serious, so it will be a tense time for anyone looking forward the 4G rollouts expected over the summer. ®

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