Reducing interference between digital TV and future mobile services

02 June 2011

Ofcom today set out proposals to ensure that digital TV delivered through a roof top aerial can function alongside the next generation of mobile services to be rolled out from 2013.

On 22 March, Ofcom set out plans to auction 800 MHz spectrum for 4G mobile services next year.

The 800 MHz spectrum is adjacent to the frequencies used for digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasting. Due to its proximity, in a small number of cases this could cause the signals from mobile base stations to interfere with set top boxes and digital televisions in the future. This could potentially affect up to 3% of DTT viewers if no measures were put in place to solve the problem.

Mitigating interference

Ofcom has today proposed a number of ways to reduce this interference.

In some cases viewers will have to fit a filter to their TV aerial. These filters block the signals that interfere with TV reception and should solve most of the interference cases.

Ofcom proposes a scheme to give information and help to consumers. Further work is being carried out in conjunction with the Government on the level and nature of consumer support.

Ofcom proposes that the majority of the costs should be borne by the future 800 MHz licensees.

In a very small number of cases - less than 0.1% of DTT viewers - filters may not solve the problem. Ofcom is considering a number of options to address the problem which may require some viewers to change platforms.

Ofcom's role is to ensure that mobile services can be used effectively in the 800 MHz band and at the same time enable DTT broadcasting to function properly.

Ofcom is carrying out more research into this issue and expects to publish a further consultation in the autumn.

The consultation, which closes on 11 August, can be found here: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/coexistence-with-dtt/

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1.    In May 2010, the European Commission decided to create a harmonised band of spectrum for use at 800 MHz to realise the full benefits of new, faster mobile services.

2.    800 MHz spectrum is essential to meet the UK's rapid increase in mobile traffic, fuelled by the growth of smartphones and mobile broadband data services such as video streaming, email, messenger services, mapping services and social networking sites. All of these services depend on spectrum - the airwaves that carry information between customers' mobile handsets and the internet.