Ofcom has suggested that the mobile broadband network operators should bear the cost of mitigating the interference caused to digital TV services by forthcoming 4G mobile internet. The fourth generation of mobile services, due to be rolled out in 2013, sits close to the frequencies used for Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) broadcasting. In a minority of cases, signals from mobile base stations could interfere with set top boxes and digital televisions, affecting up to 3% of DTT users if no solution is found.
According to Ofcom, one solution would be to fit a filter to TV aerials, blocking the interfering 4G signals to ensure TV reception is unaffected by the new technology. However, in a small number of cases, estimated at up to 0.1% of DTV viewers, a filter will not solve the problem and Ofcom is looking into a number of options, including requiring some viewers to change platforms. Ofcom is also consulting with the Government on managing these issues.
In March Ofcom announced plans to begin the auction of the 800MHz spectrum for 4G mobile broadband services next year. The auction is a way of allocating bandwidth to the various mobile operators, who must bid for licenses to operate the latest generation of mobile broadband services. The UK is adopting 4G later than many countries, but amongst the advantages of the technology are far better speed and mobile broadand coverage, and increased reliability compared to 3G services.