At800 Stops Shipping Filters As 4G Freeview Disruption Fears Fade

At800, the organisation responsible for ensuring Freeview TV viewers receive no disruption from 4G services at 800MHz, is to adopt a reactive strategy rather than a proactive course of action, after revised estimates suggested that fewer than 90,000 households are likely to be affected.

It was originally thought that 900,000 homes could be affected, leading at800 to notify 8.5 million households of possible disruption and send out one million aerial filters. However at800’s research showed that only a handful of viewers actually required the filter, making it a disproportionate course of action.

For a six month trial period, starting in February, at800 will only send filters to people who request one and will send someone to install it. The organisation has also pledged to reduce resolution times from 15 working days to ten and will also provide additional support for properties using communal aerials.

At800 operations

“There’s no change ultimately to what it is we do as an organisation,” says CEO Ben Roome, who replaced Simon Beresford-Wylie in November. “The changes we are making are a result of the experience we’ve learned over the last ten months.”

Roome concedes that sending out such a large number of filters might have “unnecessarily” scared people, and that it might contribute to a future electronic waste problem, however he adds that 800MHz 4G services are only operational in 15 urban areas, so they’re worth holding onto until the rollout is complete.

He also says that filters were sent to areas where its data and models predicted disruption, but says there were other factors to consider, such as tuner and cabling quality, that could result in interference. However he also says that one of the reasons there has been less disruption than feared is because modern tuners are good at protecting a DTT (terrestrial) signal, while 4G base stations have behaved well.

At800 says that although its operations have contracted somewhat, it will continue to ensure that television viewers are aware of its existence and it will monitor any future disruption. Its remit will end a year after O2, which is required by its licensing agreement to provide 4G coverage to 98 percent of the UK population by 2017, completes its rollout.

“The changes we’re announcing today will help us provide a better, more effective service,” says Roome.

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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