4G could knock out millions of TVs, say campaigners

Campaigners reckons millions of Britons could find themselves without TV when 4G fires up -- but they could be fitted with FreeSat instead.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
2 min read

4G could knock out as many as one in ten TVs, campaigners have warned. Broadcasting pressure group The Voice of the Listener and Viewer reckons millions of Britons could find themselves suddenly without TV when the next generation 4G phone network fires up for the first time -- but don't worry, you could be fitted with FreeSat instead.

VLV warns that the number of homes affected by 4G will be more than previously thought -- a couple of million households instead of the 900,000 estimated by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. That will mainly affect the 60 per cent of homes that have more than one TV.

4G is the name given to the next generation of mobile phone data network which will allow you to surf the Web and stream music and video on your blower at head-spinning speeds. 4G has other benefits too: the signals travel further and so have a wider reach than 3G, bringing the Internet to areas that don't even have a decent fixed-line broadband.

It's those signals that are the problem, however, as 4G zaps data around on an adjacent frequency to TV signals. VLV wants to be guaranteed that all those affected telly addicts will be supplied with the filters required to keep their tellies pumping out Britain's Got Talent and The Only Way is Essex.

It isn't as simple as fitting a filter to a TV, however. The filter has to be installed on the aerial wire, but on the right side of your signal booster if you have one, which is probably in the loft and fiddly to get at. If you can't install the filter yourself, a new company proposed by Ofcom called MitCo could come round and fit you with free satellite service FreeSat instead. Plans are still being finalised though, so we'll keep you posted on developments.

The government has so far set aside £180m for easing the transition to 4G, which some experts say could add as much as £75bn to the UK economy. Cor!

We should note briefly that 4G is a catch-all marketing term for the next generation LTE technology to be used by the phone companies, which technically doesn't really count as 4G.

The government will auction off the 800MHz 4G spectrum later this year, although T-Mobile and Orange are jumping the gun by using a part of their existing airwaves.

Do you have more than one TV or is one enough? Are faster data speeds on your phone worth the hassle? Which takes up more of your time: the Internet or TV? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.