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Mobile operators consortium aims to tackle 4G TV interference

18 Oct 2012
Mobile spectrum antenna against sunset

The UK's major mobile operators, EE, O2, Three and Vodafone, have announced the creation of the Digital Mobile Spectrum (DMS) organisation, another positive step forward in the move towards 4G services in the UK.

The organisation, previously known under a working title as MitCo, will be responsible for resolving any issues that may occur on consumer Freeview TV services due to 4G deployments.

Issues could occur because the 800MHz spectrum range is likely to interfere with some digital television services in the 700MHz range. This means that thousands of homes could lose TV services unless specialist aerials or filters are fitted, costing between £10 and £150 each.

In total, these requirements are likely to cost £180m, with the money taken from the funds raised when the spectrum bands in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz ranges are auctioned off.

The creation of the DMS is another important milestone in ensuring a smooth path to the deployment of 4G services in the UK. Previously, operators agreed to drop possible legal challenges against one another earlier this month to ensure networks should be live by 2013.

The secretary of state for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Maria Miller, welcomed the move as key to ensuring that another issue that could hamper 4G rollouts was averted.

"The rollout of 4G is a huge step forward for mobile broadband services in the UK, and will be incredibly important in driving economic growth," she said.

"I am pleased that the mobile operators will be working together to ensure that no viewers lose their television services when 4G is rolled out, and congratulate them on setting up the assistance scheme so quickly."

The organisation will be funded by the operators that win spectrum in the 800MHz band and will be led by Andrew Pinder, who currently heads up phone regulator PhonePayPlus.

"It represents a real milestone and I will continue to work with all of the mobile operators and other stakeholders to get plans in place for the rapid launch of 4G services on the spectrum to be auctioned next year," said Pinder.

The move is another positive step for the UK on its slow path to 4G services after years of in-fighting and the threat of legal challenges have delayed auctions for the new spectrum on several occasions.

The industry was forced to sit down and talk through its issues, though, after Ofcom gave EE the greenlight to run 4G services on its existing 2G network, which the firm aims to have live by the end of the month.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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