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4G interference could leave you picking up the bill

4G Freeview interference

The 4G network rollout is great news for smartphone users, but could cause a headache for some Freeview TV owners. Have you been affected by 4G interfering with your TV signal?

You may be excited by the arrival of the UK’s new 4G mobile phone network, but did you know that it could interfere with your Freeview TV reception? Particularly if you live in an area with a strong 4G signal, such as near a 4G transmitter.

Recent trials suggest that although the disruption won’t be as widespread as first feared, up to 90,000 households could still be affected.

Freeview filter fix

A new company, at800, has been set up by the mobile operators to help solve problems that arise. It has just kicked off a major awareness campaign to explain what’s happening. If your household could be affected, you will be contacted up to 12 weeks before 4G transmissions start in your area and issued with a free signal filter to connect to your TV.

If you haven’t been sent a filter, but experience Freeview interference then you’ll be able to request one. If you live in a block of flats with a communal aerial then at800 will supply a special filter, though it will be up to the landlord to pay for the installation.

Free filters, but only one each

Although the filters should be easy to fit, some people, such as those who have aerial amplifiers or a distribution system that feeds lots of TVs in their building, will probably require professional help. This will also be funded by at800 so, although it will be an inconvenience, it shouldn’t leave you out of pocket.

However, this isn’t the case if you have more than one TV aerial, as you’ll only be entitled to one filter for free. Our research shows that more than a third of houses (38%) have multiple Freeview sets. If this applies to you and you have different sets running off different aerials (such as a second TV with a portable indoor aerial), you may have to buy additional filters for your other TVs. Each additional filter costs around £15.

Filters won’t work for everyone

It’s estimated that for up to 10,000 households a filter won’t solve the problem. In these situations, at800 will look to upgrade the existing aerial to improve Freeview reception or will switch you to a free satellite or cable service. However, this won’t happen if you only have an indoor aerial – if your filter doesn’t work, you’ll be left to pay for a solution yourself. At800’s remit doesn’t cover problems arising from indoor aerials.

We believe that it’s unfair that anyone should have to pay to fix a problem with their TV reception when they haven’t done anything to cause it. Households affected should get free filters, including any necessary support, for all of their Freeview TVs so they continue to receive good reception as 4G rolls out.

The majority of you agree – 63% of people we spoke to backed our call for at800 to issue people with as many filters as they need.

Have you already been affected by interference or contacted by at800? Did you receive the filters you need?

Comments
Profile photo of John Ward
Member

The number of households running a portable Freeview TV [or a portable TV with a Freeview box] off an indoor aerial, is an unknown – and not necessarily small – proportion of the total affected by the 4G signal. It probably includes a higher percentage of elderly prople and others who have not been able to feed an external aerial connexion to the room where they like to watch television. Certainly they should not be penalised. I believe the government is making a fortune out of the sale of 4G transmission licences; it should have required the regulator to insist on no detriment for any TV viewer irrespective of aerial type or location. It wouldn’t surprise me if the communications industry’s attitude was that “if the free filter doesn’t work you can trade it in for one that does” so a secondary market in the filters will spring up on well-known websites.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

The publicity for at800 works – after a fashion. When I was in London recently I saw a lot of at800 advertisements on the sides of buses. They were a bit perplexing and made no sense to me initially; indeed, I thought they were probably a teaser advert for one of the mobile phone networks. Nevertheless, it intrigued me sufficiently so that when I got home I looked up the at800 website and found out what it was all about. Of course, the website dances lightly around the problem that Which? has highlighted for a considerable number of consumers. Will the regulator be able to do anything about it? Is it even within the regulator’s remit?

Member
GillyGloucs says:
16 July 2013

Is this why, in recent weeks, we’ve been getting no/poor signal messages on screen when trying to view some Freeview channels? We can access few enough channels via Freeview as it is without any additional interference!

Member
Lance says:
16 July 2013

A which director on daily politics this morning was far too European and should
keep out of politics and Jeffrey Lawson rather showed him to be not so clever on Europe. We are thinking very seriously of cancelling the Which subscription.
Joseph

Member
Kathleen Thomson says:
16 July 2013

I fully support the above mentioned comment about ‘Which’ representative Mr Jeffrey Lawson’s strong support for Britain to embrace the European Parliament fully, as an unprofessional and totally irresponsible statement
European Parliamnet, is in my eyes, unstable , corrupt and over paid.

No more Mr Lawson or I too will be leaving Which.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Thank you for the feedback Lance and Kathleen. Which? works within Europe for positive change for all UK consumers and our Executive Director Richard Lloyd highlighted one recent move within Europe, on ending high data roaming charges, that has benefited people in the UK. Kathleen, just to add, Mr Lawson has no affiliation with Which?.

If you’d like to email us about something that’s not featured on our website, please use our contact us form: https://conversation.which.co.uk/contact-us/ This particular Conversation is about 4G interfering with Freeview TV.

Member
TE says:
21 July 2013

I have suffered from poor reception and loss of channels on and off since a retune in April. I got a free filter from at800 but that has not solved the problem, so I went on the diagnostic checker on the radio and tv help link provided in an email from at800. They replied the same day (Sunday) and advised me to do do a default setting followed by a manual search. This hasn`t worked either and you can`t reply or send any emails with your case number, you have to write or ring instead – how good is that?? I am left totally frustrated and intend to complain to Ofcom.

Member
Ian Skidmore says:
22 July 2013

This may be a separate problem but still a problem. For at least the last 6-9 months, ie before any 4G introduction we have had persistent loss of signal for all BBC programmes but for no others. Any explanation (cross transmitter interference?) any solutions?

Profile photo of David B
Member

I just wanted to say that I was caught up in the recent Sony/Pioneer Freeview EPG debacle. I posted a question on the at800 web site and promptly received a helpful response saying basically that it couldn’t be 4G because they weren’t broadcasting in the 800 MHz band in my area (Sutton Coldfield). They had also already heard that a large number of people with Sony equipment had been affected and gave me several contact numbers and web site addresses. In comparison, even now I haven’t had a reply from Sony Support to my problem report, although they did manage to get that problem fixed…

Member
Mike says:
27 July 2013

I’m not sure that the proportion of Which? members that has heard of the 4G issue is relevant. Channels 59 and 60 are only used for Freeview in certain regions. at800 has only publicised this issue where either is in use.

I live where channel 59 is used for the ARQA multiplex, and I received a postcard from at800 two or three months ago, explaining that there might be interference from 4G. A few weeks ago, all the ARQA programmes became unwatchable (blocky and freezing), with the TV reporting a signal quality of 1/10 or even no signal. I emailed a query to at800 on Friday evening and received a reply first thing on Saturday. (That’s impressive.)

They won’t supply a filter because the 4G service is not yet running in my area, so it can’t be their fault. Hmm, not so impressive.

It may well be that my signal problem is caused by my aerial or tree leaves – the signal has certainly become far worse than it was during the winter. I need to check the aerial alignment, downlead and connections, and I will change the masthead amplifier just in case. It would have been useful to be able to fit a filter at the same time – I’m now wondering about buying one to save another trip up the ladder later.

I find it strange that they don’t publish 4G activation dates. I still don’t know whether it has been turned on yet in Watford, but the state of channel 59 is no different: I still can’t watch Dave. (OK, so that is actually a good thing.)

Member
JoAnn Kidd says:
14 August 2013

1,095 Which? members – who were obviously ‘on-line’! about 4G/Freeview issue; does not include a lot of us wrinkles who are not using IT or want to. But who want life in the slow-lane & not to be hustled into the 2013’s. We have to keep spending out limited cash to keep up with Technology just to watch the TV.

I find myself watching less & less television (as the Freeview keeps disappearing) – but my best choice in listening to the radio & Radio 4 is one of the best – as they are also introducing a lot of low comedy to that now.

Choice is an expensive luxury nowadays. They (whoever ‘they’ are) keep telling us, choice is all.

As I’m such an old stick in the mud I’ll happily be one of your ‘secret shoppers’ in the aged section. But my results will be slowly released – by snail mail, my preferred option (& only option).

Member
Colin says:
23 October 2013

Again, big business shafting the general public. 4G do we really need it? Maybe if we’re to keep up with the rest of the world, but it’s not really going to improve your life. It may be adding to your ill health. No one will tell you about the real problems created by ALL radio waves.

And so to you TV, Ok, you’ll get a filter, but only one, and when, how long will you have to hang on for one. More than one TV – shafted! What happens when the filter breaks down? Another market opens up to deprive you of your hard earned cash.

If they cannot guarantee your safety, let alone a decent TV signal (without cost and inconvenience) then they should never have gone ahead with more brain affecting signals in the first place.

Conspiracy theory??? Do your research and don’t believe the tests they have done on their behalf.

Worrying about your TV signal is the least of your worries.

Member
ALAN BROMLEY says:
17 December 2013

Recently Nov 2013, my wife received an ‘Orange message’ saying she was on EE now; as we live in Dorset this did not change our mobile reception at all; However in the last 2 weeks since the beginning of December; we have lost ALL ITV TV STATIONS; Desite having a good ‘quality’ signal but ‘weak one’??
And accordingly our T.V. engineer is recommending a further booster to our aerial AT A COST OF £132 + vat; should I send the bill to Orange or (I use) Vodafone??

Member
mikka says:
14 November 2015

I live in North East Wales and over the past 6 months the freeview signal quality has been degrading, no loss of sound but lots of sporadic pixelation and very slow response especially with weaker BBC channels. I have a filter coming but am now seriously dissapointed with freeview service, if it doesn’t work i will set rid of the tv all together and probably go spoon whittling!

Member
John Aird says:
8 June 2016

I have two holiday lets and have been suffering interference I got in touch with at 800 and they said that the lets were near a transmitter but as they see holiday lets as commercial I will have to sort the problem myself I see this as totally unjust I am being penalised for them to run there business at the expense of mine.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

John HMG “castrated ” the GPO Radio Interference Group long ago to allow for a more “open ” radio communications network -ie- more open to commercialism – aka commercial exploitation You wont get that group now turning up for every citizen who complains of radio interference but refers you to “bodies ” who are really there to “diffuse ” your complaints . I am not interested in the main frequency transmission of the interfering transmitter as it could be harmonics you are receiving but could you tell me the specifications of your equipment type/make/model/ frequency range / low power transmission so I can check for any blocking that could be applied ?

Member
Rod Tippett says:
11 August 2016

I have just come off the phone with at800 who have told me that as they have sent me a filter it is not their problem and I will have to pay for an engineer to sort out a problem that wasn’t there before the nearby 4g mast was switched on. I was also told that as I have my own satellite system and can get tv on that they dont have to do anything about my freeview tv. All the houses around us have had the filter to little success and are spending hundreds of pounds having new aerials, cables, masts and boosters fitted to fix a problem that was not there untill the 4g came online and the engineers are struggling to get the singnals back.
This is not right but not sure what to do next we have a right to not have our lives disturbed by these un human corprate companies.

Member
sylvia madden says:
15 November 2016

I returned from 10 days away to find my TV “stuttering” for want of a better description. It was unwatchable.
It cost me £80 for 2 visits by the local TV Engineer. I can now watch BBC 1, 2, ITV, 4 & 5 but no freeview
channels.
I had not received a “card” from 4G before going away warning of disruption and, after spending almost 1 hour on the phone (on a Friday) it was quite clear that I would be visited by their Engineer as and when they
saw fit hence my contacting the local Engineer.
I now seek to reclaim the cost from 4G in County Court and would appreciate any help in identifying a postal
address in order to serve the Claim.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Sylvia- -registered name-4G.co.uk Limited -address-16 Gold Tops, Newport, NP20-4PH -company number -04939307-place of registration-Wales- VAT no- 821-648-432. Hope this helps ?