How do I know if the 4G broadband will overload my Freeview?
During 2013, some of the frequencies that were used for television before the Digital Switchover will be auctioned off and used to provide 4th generation (4G) mobile broadband. Many homes will need to fit a filter, and a small few will have to switch (for free) to Freesat. Knowing in advance where these homes are is a complicated matter.
Since then, the television DigitalSwitchover has been finished and 4th generation (4G) mobile broadband services - also known as Long Term Evoluition (LTE) have launched all over the world, including a service from Everything Everywhere (EE) in the UK.
To understand why and how these 4G broadband services will cause problems during 2013, you need to take into consideration a number of technical factors.
Understanding the radio spectrum
The Radio spectrum is the name given to the frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum that can be usefully used to transmit radio, television and data services.
The top bar on the diagram below (or download) shows a selection of the services used in the UK, with old-fashioned long-wave radio, then medium-wave radio, though FM radio, the digital DAB radio services up to those used for television broadcasting. (See here for a really complex chart).
The highest frequencies on the diagram, the "ultra high frequencies" (or UHF) band is shown enlarged as the lower purple bar. In this range we can see TV "channelsC21 to C60" (blue), second- and third- generation mobile phones (2G orange, 3G pink) and the location for the 4G services.
It is important to note that some of the 2G capacity in the "1800MHz" range has already been converted to 4G operation by Everything Everywhere (EE). The other two yellow boxes show the "800MHz" (to the left) "2.6GHz" (on the right).
The problem that has to be solved as the 4G services launch, is that the new mobile broadband signals can cause overloads onto the frequencies that are being used for Freeview.
One particular problem is that a very common type of Freeview signal decoder, a superheterodyne receivers are sensitive to signals being present nine channels (72MHz) away.
In addition to overloads, 4G may also cause Signal-Interference Noise Ratio degradation, where reception breaks down because the receiver can no longer decode the digital information in the transmission.
Knowing who will win the 4G auction
4G auction takes place, no one will know which company has the right to use the 800MHz channels for mobile devices. The following companies have qualified to bid:
Everything Everywhere Limited (UK)
HKT (UK) Company Limited (a subsidiary of PCCW Limited)
Hutchison 3G UK Limited
MLL Telecom Ltd
Niche Spectrum Ventures Limited (a subsidiary of BT Group plc)
Telefonica UK Limited
Viewing high power television and using low power mobiles
This illustrates two points. Firstly, that Freeview broadcasts are high powered and one-to-many - mobile devices are low power and peer-to-peer. The mast your TV signal comes from may be miles, sometimes tens or miles away, for your mobile perhaps only meters away.
The second point is that if an existing 2G/3G mobile supplier wins a 800MHz 4G slot, they will wish to use their existing "phone mast" locations (especially the 900MHz ones) as this would be most economical for them. Until the action winners emerge, and then plan their network, only idle speculation about possible interference can be made.
Using the TV frequencies for 4G masts and phones
Research (see here) shows that a 4G mast in relative close proximity, or a mobile 4G handset closer than a meter to an unfiltered Freeview box will cause overloading on many tested devices. The following diagram shows the relationship between the 4G use and the old TV channel designations.
Once the proposed mast locations for 4G services are known, it will then be possible to predict which homes will need to fit the special filters in areas where Freeview uses the higher channel numbers (the C52 to C60 range).
If you then have a rooftop aerial without a signal amplifier, to get an overload you will need the 4G mast to be in the line-of-sight between your Freeview transmitter and the aerial, or possibly "directly behind" the aerial.
If you then have a rooftop aerial and an amplifier, or perhaps have lower-grade cables, you are likely to need to protect from a 4G overload if the phone mast is close to your rooftop aerial.
Finding transmitters that use the higher range frequencies
Protecting Freeview boxes and sets, cables, amplifiers from 4G devices
Again in areas where Freeview uses the higher channel numbers (C52 and above) you may have to protect your Freeview devices from signals from a 4G handset (such as mobile phone, tablet, or USB "dongle").
This may, once again, require the fitting of a special filter, or the upgrading of the "fly leads" used to connect your aerial to the set top box or TV. This may be a particular problem if you have used an indoor aerial or signal amplifier.
I have replaced the 5 year old mast head amplifier and PSU for a Triax 4 way 4 g filtered masthead amplifier i am happy to report that has cleared allot of my reception problems and free view signal is now stable no more break ups. I think the old mast head amp/PSU was on its way out as it was on for 5 years 24/7
rob : Thanks for the update, pleased to know that you have succeeded in overcoming the problem.
However, I do have to say, that as far as your old mast head amplifier as well as the age of is concerned, they either work or they don't, never partially unless through internal corrosion caused by water ingress, and your success is more likely to be attributable to the 4G filter incorporated within the new amplifier rather than anything else.
Although you cant go wrong by updating / replacing your old masthead amp.
All was OK with my Freeview TV until last night about 10pm Thursday 25th June 2015
and lost the picture and all sound etc and it froze. Cannot get any channel at all now
even as at Friday night . It attempts to get a picture but it is very very fragmented
and no sound because of that I guess. Not one channel.
Any ideas what has caused the sudden failure (weather maybe ) ?. Check cables and
all OK .
Watching TV is becoming a nightmare as I never know if I will get to the end of a programme as we keep 'going off' sometimes all the BBC (at least I can watch BBC live on my desktop) sometimes ITC programs or Freeview, sometimes all. This has been relentless for the last month or so. I share a communal arial, and all leads are OK.
Is is 4G that is doing this? How do I find out? what can I do? I LIVE IN LONDON W11 4BT
Please help as is sending me MAD!!!!
Frederica 27th July 2015
4G problems are quite rare although it is and can be a problem more than lightly its a system fault
First thing you need to investigate, are others on the same communal system having the same symtoms?
If the only one with problems and your sure your tuned into correct channel frequencys hook another TV up to the same outlet to prove its not or is your TV at fault.
IIf others also have a problem and your TV equipment is ok then you will need to contact the building management services that maintains your property to deal with it