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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
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.

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.

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?

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…