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New 4G networks could disrupt television signals

High-speed mobile networks are being rolled out across the nation this month

As new 4G networks are switched on over the coming weeks, there is a danger that the signals will interrupt television signals, though Ofcom assures homeowners that only "a relatively small number of homes" should be affected.

4G is the next generation of “super-speed” mobile phone networks, with all three operators – O2, 3, and Vodafone – set to launch their own services after EE offered the first 4G contracts.

Experts believe that the new signals might interfere with those used to broadcast Freeview TV. EE uses a 4G signal at the 1800mhz frequency, which puts it well clear of the 700mhz band used for Freeview, but the newer providers will be launching on the 800mhz. The proximity of these signals could rob TVs of sound, pictures, or even complete service.

A source speaking to The Telegraph said “From July London is going to start to light up. By the end of the year there could be thousands of masts carrying 4G. The broadcasters in particular are getting very jittery about this."

At800, an industry-funded body responsible for the launch’s smooth-running, has sent out postcards to homes across London, warning about the disruptions but stating that only a “small minority” of households will be affected.

But it also admitted to ordering a “few million” filters that can be fitted to televisions to safeguard signals, as well as hiring new engineers and call centre staff.

“We are scaled up for anticipated problems,” said at800 spokesman Ben Roome, “But so far in tests in south-east London, although we have received calls from lots of households, any problems they have been having their television has not been caused by interference from 4G.”

These reassurances were echoed by Ofcom, who spoke to The Independent, saying that the trials they have approved "suggest a relatively small number of homes are likely to be affected by 4G interference nationally."

 After the launch in London, 4G will continue to be rolled out across the nation, with other tests being carried by at800 in Brighton and York. EE plans to extend its services to 55 per cent of the population, across 80 locations by this month.

 The industry believes that the new, faster services will be transformational, allowing faster access for consumers, and increasing mobile users’ ability to access the internet on the move, as well as apps and other services.