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TV viewers 'left in dark' over 4G switchover

Mobile phone firms attacked for 'Cavalier' attitude

Written by . Published on July 2nd 2013.

TV viewers 'left in dark' over 4G switchover

WILL the plug soon be pulled on the telly for thousands of homes in Liverpool? 

The arrival of the new generation of mobile technology – 4G – may bring massive changes in the way people communication via emerging media platforms.  

 But for people relying on Freeview boxes as their link to the outside world, it could spell an early night. 

4G signals zap high-speed Internet into your phone on a frequency perilously close to the frequency used to send Freeview to your telly, leading to concern that 4G would interfere with Freeview. 

(Click here to add text)A phone mast yesterdayCards have been sent to homes across the city from an organisation called at800, which represents phone companies, offering filter boxes for homes experiencing problems. 

But the way the introduction of 4G is being implemented in Liverpool has led to an attack by the Lib Dem leader in the council chamber, Cllr Richard Kemp.

Ahead of a debate on 4G at the city council meeting this month, Cllr Kemp wants urgent action. 

He told Liverpool Confidential: "I am appalled at the Cavalier way in which people are being treated by the organisations concerned. 

“People like myself - who are IT illiterate - are trying to understand what to do with the one filter that we get and how that relates to other televisions that we may possess. 

“What we need is a well-thought-through advertising campaign, such as that undertaken for the digital switch over to explain what is happening, why it is happening and how to make things work as it does happen. 

“The people who expect to make vast profits from the move to 4G should be prepared to put some of their profits into this sort of information and reassurance exercise. Why should we suffer inconvenience because someone else is making a profit?" 

Britain's first 4G network, EE, uses a frequency that doesn't affect Freeview. Only the airwaves auctioned off to the other networks are at risk and their 4G services are starting to kick in in the next couple of months.  But recent tests have indicated that the damage may not be as severe as originally thought.

A question on 4G has been tabled by Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Erica Kemp and Lib Dem colleague Pat Maloney. 

It states: Residents across the city have recently received notification that if they have Freeview they may be affected by the rollout of 4G mobile services. Council notes the concerns of many residents about possible disruption and inconvenience they may encounter such as only receiving one filter free of charge from at800 which they need to install themselves to their TV set if they experience interference to theirFreeview service."


They are calling on chief executive Ged Fitzgerald to "urgently liaise with at800 and brief  councillors and neighbourhoods staff so they are fully informed about this issue so they can assist local residents who are experiencing problems now and in the future roll out.”

The information card delivered to thousands of homes states 4G will be operating at a similar frequency as Freeview (800mhz), and warning householders it may cause problems to Freeview services such as loss of sound, blocky images and loss of television channels. 

It’s estimated that anyone living within a 1km radius of a 4G transmitter might experience interference. Flats and those living in communal aerial buildings may face additional problems but the 4G Consortium of mobile phone companies has stumped up £180m to spend on fitting filters for special cases. 

Each home is being offered one free filter per household which people have to connect between their aerial and TV set. Those wilth more than one TV and Freeview box will have to find £15 for each additional filter. 

The 4G Consortium has set up a website to offer help and advice here.

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12 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJuly 3rd 2013.

old news, so what's the story? At800 have mailshotted everyone in the potentially affected area, just like happened with digital switchover, and there is free help, support and equipment for those affected. What's the issue apart from another local politician desperate to try and say something of interest? And to be standing there with the badge of 'IT illiterate' as the leader of a political party of a major city is appalling. Get a grip. It's got nothing to do with IT anyway. Tests in other cities (yes, we're not the guinea pigs either so no story there) show that a fraction of households will be affected (100 out of 22,000 in the last test).

Ena SharplesJuly 3rd 2013.

I was in the shop of a leading mobile phone operator last week. I went in to buy a PAYG dongle for £15 and a man almost got me to part with almost a thousand pounds in a two year deal on a 4G phone. Unlimited minutes and texts and 500mb data for £41. I told him I only ever used about 100 minutes and 100 texts and he said the phone firms don't care any more about that: people only use mobile phones for internet and that's where the money is, so I needn't bother asking for a lower price deal. But what they forget is a good chunk of Liverpool isn't even on the internet yet, and the same people who buy the Echo for the death notices and listen to Roger Phillips every day are the ones who will be needlessly inconvenienced and pissed off by this. So it is very relevant to many, in my opinion.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Minnie CaldwellJuly 3rd 2013.

Oo Ena!

Handel GartsideJuly 4th 2013.

I've been gone a while, but now I'm back, hot lips an' all

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