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UK Government To Offer Free TV Filters For 4G Interference 94

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-can-see-clearly-now dept.
judgecorp writes "4G services could interfere with terrestrial TV in the UK, so the government plans to offer one free filter for every household affected by the issue. The analysis suggests that 2.3 million households could be affected, but many of those have cable or satellite TV, so the plan might only need a million filters (each household only gets one, even if they have many TVs)."
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UK Government To Offer Free TV Filters For 4G Interference

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  • Could? (Score:2, Funny)

    by aglider (2435074)

    Either it does or it doesn't.
    Unless the Govt doesn't even know the frequency bands involved into both the TV and the 4G.
    In which case ... the filter won't help!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SuricouRaven (1897204)
      It depends upon regional frequency allocation and distance to the transmitters.
      • by aglider (2435074)

        That is, the UK Govt allows frequency allocation ranges to overlap?
        Then you're right.

        • Re:Could? (Score:5, Informative)

          by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday July 13, 2012 @04:28AM (#40636681)
          Not exactly. The allocations don't overlap, but they are close - real radio equipment isn't quite as ideal as regulators would wish, and will pick up some signal from outside of its designed range.
        • Re:Could? (Score:5, Informative)

          by geogob (569250) on Friday July 13, 2012 @04:42AM (#40636741)

          Even if you are have no band overlapping, if you are close enough to the transmitter the out of bands harmonics might be strong enough to go through your receiver.

          I've had this once while landing at Toronto City Center Airport, right next to the CN Tower and its FM transmitters. On final we suddenly had some stupid Radio show bleeding over the Tower Frequency and I'm quite sure there isn't any Frequency overlapping between FM radio and aviation bands. But I also suspect their might have been an issue with the Receiver. Anyway, it illustrates well that you don't need frequency overlap to have annoying interference.

          (and we narrowly avoided our desire to crash into the transmitter, Nickelback was playing).

          • by f3rret (1776822)

            (and we narrowly avoided our desire to crash into the transmitter, Nickelback was playing).

            Dude, you just admitted to considering terroristic acts, DHS is on the way.

            • by geogob (569250)

              If their understanding of sarcasm and humour is that bad, I'll gladly facepalm myself all the way to where ever they take authors of bad jokes. Hopefully it's not also where they take bad bands.

              • DHS employees are not selected on the basis of sense of humour.
              • You may laugh, but Trial of Paul Chambers [wikipedia.org]. Fortunately it didn't land him in prison.

                • by geogob (569250)

                  Very interesting case!
                  But, I think there are some major differences. I never said I had the intention of committing a criminal act, nor did I said I planed one (an I obviously do not plan to, nor did I at any time. All readers understanding english should have understood that in the context). Furthermore, I believe there is a fundamental difference between admitting in a desire, or in an intention, regardless if they are true or not. This difference is even bigger when both are obviously false.

                  Paul Chambers

            • by Dishevel (1105119)

              They do not monitor for that here.
              Although if he posts that comment to Facebook [slashdot.org] ?????

              • by geogob (569250)

                I hope they don't monitor for that here or anywhere... But I believe they monitor for stuff almost everywhere. Probably here too.

            • by emag (4640)

              But it was Nickelback. That's like a free pass. And it was Toronto, so it's not like they were in a real country anyway.

            • It's not a terrorist act if nickleback is singing about raping a woman.

          • by aglider (2435074)

            If the 4G harmonics can harm the TV broadcasts farther than a few meters away, then it means that 4G tx power is outrageously high!
            And the other way around, as well.

          • by ai4px (1244212)
            Take the frequency of the offending FM radio station add the IF frequency of your airband com/nav radio and I'll bet the sum is the same as the tower frequency. Either that or the front end of your radio was simply overloaded. The other way this works is that an FM receiver inside the aircraft (ie a passenger listening to his tunes) has a local oscillator running at 10.7mhz above the desired frequency. The sum of FM radio station + 10.7mhz is usually in the aircraft nav band (108 - 118). For example, an
            • by geogob (569250)

              I suspect the former. If another LO interfered, it must have been one of the navigation or com radios. No other receiver was on during the flight.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        It also depends on how good the TV's tuner is. Mine is crappy and seems to filter nothing, while others never get interference.

    • Re:Could? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Zocalo (252965) on Friday July 13, 2012 @03:21AM (#40636435) Homepage
      Nope. It's "could". Mobile cells don't all operate at the same frequency - they operate at a number of frequencies within a given band, so depending on how close your local cell's operating frequecies are to the frequencies your local TV stations are you could see some interference. There's also the possibility that you could be far enough away from your local tower that the interference is too weak to actually cause noticeable disruption to the TV signal.
      • by Teun (17872)
        But when you're further away from the cell tower your mobile device is going to ramp up it's power and because it is much closer to your TV you are more likely to have an issue.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ozoner (1406169)

      > Either it does or it doesn't

      Utter rubbish.

      It depends on so many things. Most importantly the relative strength of the Interfering signal compared to the wanted signal, but ultimately it depends on how well engineered the TV is in its ability to reject unwanted signals. Most TV's are woeful in this respect.

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      I think they mean 'could noticeably interfere'

      You can have interference that shows up on an oscilloscope that doesn't matter to the experience of watching TV.

      The article has a fairly interesting breakdown of when and how they think people will have problems. I guess there are 150 base stations for 4G that they figure will cause problems, but only for people with specific setups.

      They go so far as to suggest that for the 500 worst affected households the government through this fund they're making carrier et

    • Re:Could? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Cimexus (1355033) on Friday July 13, 2012 @03:27AM (#40636465)

      Yeah weird.

      Incidentally this is precisely the reason why in Australia, Apple got penalised by the courts for advertising their new iPads as '4G'. It wasn't ~merely~ because the iPad's didn't support the 4G frequency that the Australian mobile networks used, it was that they only supported frequencies that would NEVER have any hope of being used for 4G in Australia, because those frequencies are allocated to terrestrial TV in Australia. So there's no way Apple could argue "well maybe one day someone would start a 4G network on a supported frequency" ... it was impossible from the outset for the iPad to ever be connected to a 4G network in Australia due to the frequencies being completely unavailable.

      Which makes me wonder how this interference in the UK is being caused? Surely OFCOM has defined permissible bands for 4G and for TV, and ensured they don't overlap or interfere with each other?

      • because those frequencies are allocated to terrestrial TV in Australia.

        It is actually because Australia will be using the (more sensible) 'digital dividend' plan with the rest of the Asia region once we finally turn off digital TV, not the US layout which was carved up according to political and profit motives. I don't think there are any interference issues. Maybe the UK regulator is tight on available bandwidth in the European 800MHz band.

        • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Friday July 13, 2012 @03:59AM (#40636571)

          In the US, TV channels have been reclaimed for cellular service twice. First channels 70-83 were turned into the original 800Mhz cellular range (really 850Mhz) and now 60-76 has been carved out for the new 700MHz 3G/4G frequencies.

          How is this somehow not sensible?

          The US has interference issues as much as Australia does as much as the UK does. Frequencies which used to be TV channels now have (much stronger) cellular transmissions on them. Because TVs were designed to tune to those frequencies, they don't have blocking filters for those frequencies, making interference possible.

          In Australia, 126MHz of bandwidth will be reassigned from UHF TV to cellular.

          Interference in the US has been minimal (at most) and I doubt the UK or Australia will have much difficulty either.

          • The APAC 700MHz is a straight forward split in half, 45MHz each up and down with a some separation in the middle.

            The US has two major 700MHz bands which are presently incompatible, CPE-wise with each other, yet alone other frequency plans for the "700MHz" block.

          • Frequencies which used to be TV channels now have (much stronger) cellular transmissions on them.

            What are YOU talking about? Much stronger? The average cellular base station maxes out around a watt or two and has a coverage area of a few miles.

            A local analog UHF here in Chicago used to broadcast around 1MW and had about a maximum coverage of 75 miles or so. I highly doubt there are any million-watt 4G LTE towers around here, but I could be mistaken.

            • There was only one of that UHF tower. And RF power falls with the square of the distance. Actually, it falls off a lot worse than that at UHF frequencies, which is why UHF stations get so much power to transmit with in the first place.

              You don't have a million Watt LTE tower, but you have a lot of 10 Watt towers and you are in general a lot closer to them. And you can have a half watt LTE transmitter (your phone) in the same room as your TV.

              My phone sitting on the coffee table 1 meter away at 0.5W versus a t

            • by ai4px (1244212)
              ...maxes out at a watt or two (per channel) and there are hundreds of "channels" multiplexed onto the antenna at your local cell site at any given moment. But me thinks this filter is more concerned with the proximity of the 4g phone in someone's pocket as them sit in front of the telly and watch tv. Compare the max output of your 4g phone's 340mw at 1 meter from your TV with the 100kw tv station transmitter that is 60km away. The 4g phone near in proximity and in frequency could "win" a lot of the time.
      • Re:Could? (Score:5, Informative)

        by pipedwho (1174327) on Friday July 13, 2012 @03:55AM (#40636559)

        The issue with interference isn't always due to primary band spectral overlap.

        If a high gain receiver is trying to receive a small signal within a wide bandwidth that contains other much higher power signals, then the receiver can be saturated by the non-desired transmissions - even though it isn't in the same narrow frequency band as the desired signal. This could happen to someone that lives next door to a 4G tower, while trying to receive a signal from a distant TV transmission tower. (Again, it's possible to design receivers to resist this, but most cheap TV receivers won't need to be, and thus engineers probably won't bother.)

        A secondary problem is side-band interference that occurs when the out-of-band components of a high power interfering signal are large enough relative to the desired signal to cause direct in-band interference. These out of band harmonics and side-bands are reasonably well suppressed below a given threshold relative to the carrier - eg. 60dB below the carrier. However, if the interfering transmitter is next door and its signal into the receiver is significantly higher (eg. greater than 50dB higher than the desired signal), then the signal to noise ratio of the desired TV channel will be insufficient for 'clean' reception, and interference will be visible.

        The same issues occur when your house is 'next door' to a high power local TV transmitter and you're trying to receive a program from a much more distant channel in a neighbouring band. But, that particular issue has been worked around since the dawn of TV broadcasting. OTOH, mobile phone towers are much more densely packed and have tighter beams that can be electrically steered to point right past (and thus be received by) a given TV antenna as it 'follows' the phones it's transmitting to.

        • Users of signal amplifiers are likely to see 4G transmissions drive the amps into clipping, taking out everything. That's the main reason they don't know how many households will be affected, regional signal prediction can't give good enough estimates of individual conditions.

          I'm sitting right on the border between 2 transmitters, both needed masthead amps for good reception on all multiplexes. One of them has 5 muxes in the 4G danger zone. I'm not pleased.

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          The same issues occur when your house is 'next door' to a high power local TV transmitter and you're trying to receive a program from a much more distant channel in a neighbouring band.

          We had precisely this problem in my old house. It was an AM transmitter about 800m away. We picked it up on every AM channel on all but the most expensive receivers. We picked it up on our phone lines too if you listened carefully.

          Worst of all we ended up creating the worlds most boring crystal radio in primary school as a science project. It could pickup just the one channel. That said it worked just as well without wire wrapped tuning needle as it did with one so it was much easier to build (the tuner bei

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...think of loads of invisible turds flying through the air in every direction. I hear political scientists use the term "regulatory capture" - because catching the largest turds thrown at them is all public servants can do under the new post-Thatcher civil service.

    For example, the shortwave censorship which took the Soviets $100Ms to achieve has been successfully implemented by Ofcom by permitting the sale of noisy "Ethernet over powerline" devices.

    4G basically means that one person can get fast mobile con

  • In both the UK and the US, they handed out free decoders during the digital switch. They know very well that were a significent portion of the population to lose television, crime rates would go up and there may be riots in the street. Panem et circenses, never fails.
    • >In both the UK and the US, they handed out free decoders during the digital switch.

      Free decoders in the UK? Nope. They have a Digital UK switchover scheme, but it'll cost a person £40 minimum to get the worst option form them (a cheap decoder).

      You can be considered eligible to use the scheme but ineligible for a free decoder: the limitations on it screen out almost everybody - for insatnce once you're considered eligible - basically over 75 and/or certain types of disabled you then ALSO have to b

  • If the government gives them out "free", it means that the taxpayers pay for them.

    Why not force the 4G providers, who are causing the interference, to foot the bill . . . ?

    • by 6031769 (829845)

      Certainly they are not free, but the taxpayers might not actually be paying for these since HMG sold (licensed) the 4G space to the telecoms firms in the first place. The idealist in me thinks that the filters would be paid for out of those funds.

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      If the government gives them out "free", it means that the taxpayers pay for them.

      Why not force the 4G providers, who are causing the interference, to foot the bill . . . ?

      Because the government hopes to make a metric shedload of money "for the taxpayer*" when it auctions off the old analog TV frequencies to the 4G providers later this year (it worked when they auctioned off the 3G spectrum in the 90s). This should be loose change in comparison.

      * Don't hold your breath for your rebate cheque, though :-)

    • by Nick Fel (1320709) on Friday July 13, 2012 @04:02AM (#40636577)
      That's exactly what's happening [bbc.co.uk]: "Costs will be met by the winner of a spectrum auction later this year."
    • by Shimbo (100005) on Friday July 13, 2012 @04:04AM (#40636591)

      If the government gives them out "free", it means that the taxpayers pay for them.

      Why not force the 4G providers, who are causing the interference, to foot the bill . . . ?

      £180 million is top-sliced from the 4G auction; the government will make up the rest, if any. They probably bring in more money for the taxpayer that way, than if the bandwidth came with an unknown liability,.

    • Well, the 4G license purchaser will indeed bear the costs for the units, but aside from that being part of the spectrum auctions terms and conditions, why the fuck should they? Its the Government that has decided "we shall sell these ranges of spectrums to two incompatible user bases, and we know there will be interference between them" - why shouldnt the government bear the costs of that decision?

    • by ultranova (717540)

      Why not force the 4G providers, who are causing the interference, to foot the bill . . . ?

      Because 4G providers are corporations, while taxpayers are mere humans, and poor humans at that.

    • by Dishevel (1105119)

      "Free" The worst word ever.
      This word makes the stupid stop thinking.
      The word should be banned. There is no such thing as free. The use of the word is almost always a ruse. A ruse to suck in the stupid and sell them on a product or idea.
      "Free Shipping!"
      "A second set absolutely Free!"
      "Free Health Care"
      "A free meal with the purchase of another meal of equal or greater value."
      All things designed to make you think you are getting a deal when you are not.

  • by throwaway18 (521472) on Friday July 13, 2012 @03:51AM (#40636547) Journal

    For a few more months in the UK analog TV will use 470-862MHz
    The last few analog transmitters will soon be switched off,
    the replacement digital transmitters will just use 470-790MHZ.

    806-854MHz was auctioned off in 2009. 790-806MHz may be used for other tings in areas where it is not used for digital TV.

    The worst case scenario for TV interference is roughly this.

    Someone's house is on the edge of the coverage area of a digital TV transmitter which is on the highest multiplex frequency. They are 35miles from the transmitter and have a big TV antenna on a twenty foot pole on the chimney with a wideband preamp on the pole.
    The TV signal is just barely strong enough to give a picture and only freeze occasionally when a pigeon flies in front of the antenna.

    The TV signal is 8MHz wide ending at 790MHz.
    A mobile internet base station push out 100 watts is installed 100 meters away from the house using frequencies starting just 16MHz higher at 806MHz.

    In terms of power the mobile internet signal might be 70dB stronger, that's ten million times the received power.

    The base station signal is strong enough that it overloads the masthead preamp. It dosn't even matter if the TV decoder can handle a massive signal close to a very weak signal, (and it probably can't) because the preamp is clipping and the weak TV signal is lost before it even gets to the TV.

    In theory with good planning will mitigate this considerably.

    In practise vast amounts of existing TV equipment is specifically designed to receive and amplify the frequencies that have been sold oof for other uses.
    Mobile applications need lots of base stations close to the users.
    Inevitably lots of people will have a base station on a tall building that they can see out of the window in an area where the TV transmitter is twenty miles away.

    • One thing, TV stations are 6MHz wide, not 8MHz. This is true with NTSC and PAL/SECAM, I would imagine it's true worldwide.

      filler filler filler (do we even need to fill anymore? I'm going to err on the safe side).

      • by ai4px (1244212)
        The only place PAL is 6mhz wide is in south america.
      • by jimicus (737525)

        Is that still true when we consider that the analogue signal in the UK is all but switched off? It'll be completely gone in October.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Wouldn't the filter have to be before the amplifier then? If the amp is on the antenna mast on the roof then someone is going to have to be paid to go up there and fit it.

  • We've known this since February [slashdot.org].
  • Why do you need more than one? Can't you just install this before you split the signal? I doubt people actually have multiple cables entering their home.

    • by salmacis2 (643788)

      Because this is about terrestrial television, not cable television.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Why do you need more than one? Can't you just install this before you split the signal? I doubt people actually have multiple cables entering their home.

        Because this is about terrestrial television, not cable television.

        So? I'm guessing most of the british don't use rabbit ears on their TVs - they stick the antenna on the roof, with a preamp on it and then it goes down and into the house where it's split up and distributed to indoor jacks as if it was cable.

        So the house is "wired" for TV all to an antenna o

        • by rb12345 (1170423)
          In most cases, the splitter will be hard-wired to the antenna. Installing the filter on the antenna side will require cutting into the existing coaxial cable, which most people will require engineers to do. The affected houses will probably get a small box that plugs in between the aerial and the TV or set-top box. Something similar was done when Channel 5 was first broadcast on analogue to prevent interference with video recorders. Pretty much anyone can handle plugging the filter box in, which means t
  • Where I live we've only just gone fully digital - well since Sept 2011.

    This meant that I went from having "sometimes poor reception" (about 30% power) and certain channels were affected more than others, and it seemed to be many factors - night time, birds flying, phases of the moon. To always having good reception (90%+ most of the time), and also being able to pick up another region - so I get Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

    So, now they pull this out of the hat! Yea we've moved everything, turned off analogu

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Viol8 (599362)

      UK governments don't give a stuff about you and me - they only care about the money they can make from selling spectrum to big business. If that means the new use of the spectrum will cause interference to our TV viewing ... weeeell, thats just collateral damage.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        To be honest, they are damned if they do and damned if they don't. People want spectrum for fast mobile internet, and they want spectrum from digital television.

        Since there are plenty of other ways of getting digital television, I think it's reasonable that a small number of people are affected for the benefit of the majority. Perhaps relax planning regulations for satellite antennae for those affected.

        • by Viol8 (599362)

          "Since there are plenty of other ways of getting digital television, I think it's reasonable that a small number of people are affected for the benefit of the majority. Perhaps relax planning regulations for satellite antennae for those affected."

          I think you've got that the wrong way around - almost everyone watches TV and they far outnumber the people using 3G for mobile internet , never mind 4G.

      • by isorox (205688) on Friday July 13, 2012 @05:15AM (#40636859) Homepage Journal

        UK governments don't give a stuff about you and me - they only care about the money they can make from selling spectrum to big business. If that means the new use of the spectrum will cause interference to our TV viewing ... weeeell, thats just collateral damage.

        Also worth noting that Sky won't be affected. We've just had an inquiry that shows how in bed the political class is with Murdoch, and the BBC is always under attack.

        Before Freeview (DTT), we had an over-the-air subscription based service (ondigital, later itvdigital). People thought "digital tv == subscription"

        Greg Dyke (DG of the BBC at the time, hounded out for being in charge of a reporter than said the evidence to invade Iraq was "sexed up" -- later proven completely true) made a bold play to push through Freeview when ITVDigital went bust, which got DTT receiving equipment without CAMs, which meant the Murdoch lot couldn't later argue for the BBC to move to a subscription basis.

        He paid the price for this defiance, and they're slowly trying to get rid of freeview

        • by jez9999 (618189)

          He paid the price for this defiance, and they're slowly trying to get rid of freeview

          I hope they succeed. I don't want to pay a licence fee for other people's viewing habits, and I don't want them calling it "free".

          • by DaveGod (703167)

            You realise that subscription TV is the same paying for other people's viewing habits? I think it's fair to assume you won't like every programme on the channels you buy on subscription TV.

            And all TV is heavily cross-subsidised. Even pay-per-view.

        • People thought "digital tv == subscription"

          No, they didn't. I bought an 'OnDigital' box when they came out and never had to pay another penny to anybody. I received an updated card once in the post, I think, but that was the only contact I ever had with them once I had done the initial registration (to activate the supplied card).

          That box was still in use (without card) to receive Freeview until February this year - digital changeover. I took it out of service because the newer boxes now available use much less power.

        • by jimicus (737525)

          He paid the price for this defiance, and they're slowly trying to get rid of free view

          Cite?

      • by Hatta (162192)

        governments don't give a stuff about you and me - they only care about the money

        That's all you really needed to say.

  • I spend my time in poor countries like the Philippines and they had 4G last year. The UK is still talking about this in the future tense? Is Britain copying the US so much that they are even getting stuck in the dark ages with their phone system now?

    • Stop whingeing - things have come a long way since GPO Telephones became BT, and put an end to the policy of not using technology less than 30 years old in case it was "new fangled" (or actually worked). I would far prefer to have cheaper calls and data than yet another new technology.

      <Something about lawns goes here>

  • Free roll of tinfoil with every new or used TV!
    Filters out those nasty 4G signals!
  • British TV is hard to follow and not all that entertaining. BBC just keeps repeating the same news all day. I usually just turn it off and go out for a beer.

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