A recent decision by the UK Government to implement 4G mobile network signals around the UK has been met with distaste by leading digital broadcaster Freeview, who claim that their platform’s signals are incompatible with the wireless signals that are produced by 4G outlets, despite the two parties otherwise having nothing to do with each other.
It is believed that the 4G signals interfere with those recieved by TV antennas, and that the government have pledged to put up £180m in implementing filters to avoid such problems for an estimated 2.3m homes that would be caught in the firing line. However, Freeview have claimed that it will not even cover half of what is needed, with their estimations suggesting that with the filters in place, a combined £200m would still have to be spent by consumers (an average of £86.96 per houshold) to fully resume normal signal service.
A clear and obvious solution being suggested by the digital terrestrial broadcaster is one that would also spare the government from spending, as they claim that the mobile operators who would be responsible for the 4G signals should foot the entire bill (of at least £380m), due to the initiative mainly being for their purpose.
Freeview managing director Ilse Howling said of the situation: “It is vital that any strategy listens to what consumers want and need. We strongly believe that the Freeview homes should not be subject to further inconvenience and additional cost to make way for mobile broadband. The government has committed to recouping the cost of protecting viewers from interference, using proceeds from the 4G mobile auction. However, this will still leave viewers to bear a substantial proportion of the cost. The mobile phone operators will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this new service, and we believe that they should pay to mitigate the television interference according to the ‘polluter pays’ principle.”
Freeview are now proposing that the government make revisions to their 4G proposals by focusing on the areas of households with more than one TV set (who should not have to pay extra for more filters to be installed), customers having to pay for professional installation of filters, and support for elderly and disabled viewers in need of extra assistance with the filters.
Howling also warned: “Free, quality television is part of this nation’s DNA. Almost 90% of Freeview homes and 75% of second set homes would be unhappy if Freeview were no longer available. It is crucial that as an industry we don’t turn a blind eye to consumers but ensure that technology evolves in line with what people want. It is critically important that the government finds the best way to get both – protecting free TV and addressing the need for superfast broadband.”
The plans will not go down well with average viewers once they are told they have to pay to keep a high-quality TV signal, and while a side-effect may be better streaming quality to mobile devices, the lack of TV at home might be considered a more important factor. Will the mobile device providers rightly be made to ‘pay’ for their upcoming interference?