The UK's major mobile operators have formed an alliance to limit the impact of 4G services on digital television reception.
EE, O2, Vodafone and Three have created a company called Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited, which will be responsible for ensuring that consumers continue to receive clear Freeview TV signals following the roll out of 4G mobile services in the 800MHz spectrum band from the Spring of next year.
Ofcom explained in June that, due to the proximity of the 800MHz spectrum to the frequencies used for digital terrestrial television broadcasting, signals from mobile base stations could interfere with set top boxes and digital televisions.
This could potentially affect up to three percent of viewers if no measures were put in place to solve the problem.
Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited will be responsible for mitigating interference in a number of ways, including fitting filters to viewers' TV aerials, providing information and help to consumers and in some cases helping them to change platforms.
The company will be funded by the successful bidders for 800MHz spectrum in the forthcoming auction. Provisions have been put in place to make sure that if any other party acquires some of this spectrum in the auction they can immediately become a shareholder in the company.
“The roll-out of 4G is a huge step forward for mobile broadband services in the UK, and will be incredibly important in driving economic growth,” said Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller.
“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.”
Bringing forward the creation of the company was one of the areas highlighted by Ofcom and the Government in their recent discussions with the mobile phone companies about accelerating the roll-out of competitive 4G services.
Andrew Pinder, who has been appointed to act as interim chairman of Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited, added that the mobile operators have responded well to Miller’s challenge to set up the company as quickly as possible.
The discussions also resulted in Ofcom accelerating the 4G auction process, and announcing that spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands would be cleared and ready for 4G mobile services across much of the UK five months earlier than previously planned – from spring 2013.
Meanwhile, EE's 4G network, delivered using the 1800MHz spectrum band, will go live to customers on 30 October.