Digital Switchover

 

The Digital Switchover (DSO) is now complete for the whole of the UK. Digital TV is also available through Sky and the BBC/ITV Freesat service and many people are enjoying better quality pictures and extended services via their TV as a result.

The benefits of digital TV principally centre around High Definition (HD) images and an improved set of services delivered via your TV. This is in no small part due to the reduced bandwidth required for digital TV transmission when compared with traditional analogue broadcasting. Many people will now be able to enjoy the benefits of interactive TV, telephony, HDTV (High Definition TV), together with a broader range of channels including movies and sports. Additional features include on-screen listings, audio descriptions and subtitling for viewers with audio or visual impairments. 
 

Aerials and Satellite Services

Many existing rooftop aerials and even some set-top aerials continue to work effectively after DSO although some may not offer sufficient signal strength to ensure uninterrupted viewing and may merit replacement. If you opt to receive digital TV via Sky TV, Virgin Media, or Freesat, this will entirely remove the need for an aerial.

 

Television Sets

In essence, you will either need to possess a digital television with a built-in digital Freeview receiver or you will need to buy a separate digital receiver with outputs suitable for connection to your current TV. Different receivers are designed with different output types ranging from traditional RF through SCART to HDMI or HDMI 2 connections for high definition audio and video combined. Do bear in mind that if your current TV isn't designed for iDTV, it won`t allow you to access many of the interactive features included in the new service. Equally, older non-HD units will compromise the quality of the image possible via the new service.

In fact for many people, the Switchover was the point at which it made sense to upgrade one or more older TV's to newer HD ready or full HD models in order to take full advantage of the new service. In many cases this involved several sets around the home but with the ever reducing costs of both plasma and LCD TVs, this was far less of a financial commitment than it would have been even a couple of years ago. There is now a vast range of digital TV's from which to choose including, as an example, the Samsung UE40B7000WW which will give you High Definition TV using LCD (liquid crystal) technology on a 40 inch screen and LED edge lights.

 

4G Mobile Service – Major TV interference in Oxford

Now that the switch to digital TV is complete, the government have decided to use some of the spare frequency spectrum for ‘fourth Generation’ (4G) mobile services. This will give users of smart phones and tablet computers much faster mobile broadband. However, the frequencies that are going to be used are directly adjacent to current Freeview TV signals and there will be lots of interference to TV channels!
The auction for the available frequencies were completed in February 2013 and the first roll-out of 4G is has happened. Initially it will cover Britain’s major cities (rural areas are unlikely to benefit for a while).

 

How bad will the interference be?

We do not know what the scale of the problem will be. The power of the new signals will be much greater than we have seen before and in Oxford particularly the frequency channels being used (including Channel 61) are right next to the Oxford ITV frequency (Channel 60). The effect will vary depending on how close your house is to a 4G transmitter. We don’t know yet where they will all be.

 

What will the Government do to help?

The Government have set up company called MitCo to deal with these issues. They will initially supply a simple in-line filter to any consumer who complains of interference. This will solve a proportion of the problems. But there are situations where this will not work. For example, the filter will need to be fitted in front of any amplifier on the aerial system and if you have an amplifier it may be in your loft or even on the roof! If this is the case then the filter will need to be installed by a professional installer. Mitco may issue a voucher to cover the cost of this but that has not yet been confirmed. If a filter doesn’t work, there will be a fund of government money to move some viewers over to Freesat. There is also a fund to assist the aged and vulnerable.

 

What about all of my bedroom TV's?

The help offered by the government will only apply to your main TV point. If you have additional TV’s in the house (most people now do) then you will have to get the others sorted out privately. OXFORD AERIALS will have a supply of filters to fit to your other TV’s. If the filter doesn’t work on your main TV, then it looks as though Mitco will subsidise a switch to Freesat but not so on your other TV’s.
OXFORD AERIALS will have a stock of new aerials which are designed to NOT pick up the 4G signals. We will also have higher quality ‘super filters’ and screened sockets and leads where the problem is particularly bad. We hope we can always get a solution for you.

 

What about blocks of flats?

TV systems in blocks of flats will perhaps have the worst interference. These systems usually have a very large amplifier at the head of the system. These amplifiers can amplify TV signals by up to 1000 times before it is distributed around the block of flats. Signals will need to be properly filtered using professional grade filters before entering these powerful amplifiers.

 

4G is already advertised. Has it not started already?

The interfering signals won’t start until well into the latter part of 2013. There is confusion because one company, ‘Everything Everywhere’ (EE), who own Orange and T–Mobile, have started advertising 4G services. EE have only been granted the use of the old 2G frequencies around 1800 MHz for a version of 4G. This will not cause problems with terrestrial digital freeview television.