4G Fudge

It’s a bit surprising that it’s only now that proposals have been issued for dealing with the interference between digital terrestrial broadcasting and 4G transmissions.

Ofcom was pointing out last June that the frequencies for digital terrestrial TV broadcasting were ‘adjacent’ to the 800-900MHz band being auctioned for 4G.

What we now have is a classic British fudge. Earlier this week t he Department for Culture,  Olympics, Media and Sport (DCMS) accepted that 4G transmitters are going to affect terrestrial TV broadcast reception in nearby households, and all of these households will l be issued with filters on the basis of their proximity to the transmitters.


The filters will connect to STBs and this process will be so simple anyone can do it, says DCMS. One hopes that not too many Grannies will be electrocuted..


The filters will do the trick for most of the 900,000 households. However, some 10,000 of them will not benefit from the filters, and will have to switch to satellite or cable TV.


If a household can’t switch to cable or satellite, and the DCMS thinks there could be 500 such households, they’ll be given £10,000 by the government and told ‘you’re on your own’.


The DCMS recommends that groupings of the cast-out 500 could pool their money to invest in additional relay transmitters.


The nationwide cost of providing the filters will be £108 million which will be funded by the winners of the 4G spectrum auction which has been delayed by bickering among potential licensees but it currently due for later this year.


DCMS Sec of State Ed Vaizey says: “We expect the deployment of 4G mobile services in 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz to begin in 2013 in the UK, when the spectrum has been cleared and is available for 4G services to be deployed.”


‘Clearing’ could be a reference to the need to use the frequencies for the Olympic Games. The government has already asked the Ministry of Defence to make spectrum available for the Games, and it could very well be that the delay in 4G deployment is partly in deference to the requirements of Lord Sebastian Coe.



  1. I assume this is going to sort out the good-designer sheep from the bad-designer goats, Dr Bob, and stuff designed with shitty frequency control is the stuff which will have problems.

  2. Crikey [Anonymous] that’s a good point. I wonder who’s going to be making them? A possible share-buying opprtunity? Sounds like those $50 gold-plated diodes the Ministry of Defence used to buy. Someone may have done a good snow-job on Ofcom.

  3. Based on your figures, I calculate the cost of supplying a filter at £120 each. Are they made of solid gold?

  4. Anonymous.
    It’s not just burglar alarms in the 868 MHz band but also Fire Alarms as well as Personal Safety Alarms as used in sheltered housing.
    The Wireless Fire Alarms tend to be used in Listed and Historic Buildings and also in some schools (like my daughter’s school as is all schools in Monmouthshire)

  5. Yes indeed Engineer, you don’t want to live there, but establishing some kind of squatters’ rights to qualify for the £10,000 – a sort of ‘Occupy 4G Transmitters’ movement – might be a lucrative, but necessarily very temporary, move.

  6. If I was bang under a transmitter (assuming I am within the transmission beam pattern), I would not care if I do not have TV reception, I would be worried about the radiation and try to move as quick as possible before a scientist come up with new health effects of this new frequency! May be 10K is first installment for the health compensation!

  7. ‘Mr Cynical for 4G Tsar’ is my recommendation for fixing things, Mr C.

  8. Christ, what’s up with this Country we haven’t even got 3G working across the whole population yet (Ofcom fudge it by saying that 75% of the population is on 3G but what they don’t explain is that it is across 5 carriers which of course is useless to any individual) and now we are spending zillions to go to 4G.
    Someone needs to get a grip on things?

  9. So if you are very unlucky, “The Government” will give you £10k and tell you you have no TV reception, but if you get together with “the others” you could perhaps build a relay.
    Well well, David Cameron’s big society has now encompassed TV distribution.
    What next? Motorway maintenance?

  10. Presumably, Nick, they’re right bang under the 4G transmitters. So why not set up camp under every mast and collect multiple £10,000s?

  11. Presumably, Nick, they’re right bang under the 4G transmitters. So why not set up camp under every mast and collect multiple £10,000s?

  12. £10,000?
    Where are these 500 households? Think I’ll move there and take the £10,000, thanks very much.

  13. I well remember the joy of going to fetch my dad because he couldn’t open the doors of his car because Tetra was swamping the signal out of the keyfob.
    Just using the key to open the door set the alarm off.
    Of course you then couldn’t cancel the alarm.

  14. Now that’s a point [Anonymous} I hadn’t thought of that. I wonder if Ofcom has.

  15. Well it will be a mess ! Along with all the wireless microphones that were (possibly illegally) moved from the band they had been in since the 1960s. And when we try to move to SuperHD we’ll find that the mobile companies have taken the bandwidth needed.

  16. Does this mean the 868MHz license free band is doomed?
    There’s a lot of burglar alarms that use this.
    Shades of the 418MHz tetra thingie if so.

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