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DTV interference could cost UK LTE operators £100m

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Winners of the 800MHz digital dividend spectrum in the UK could have to shoulder the £100m cost of ensuring that signals do not interfere with digital terrestrial TV.

A report by UK spectrum regulator Ofcom has noted that the 800MHz spectrum, due to be auctioned in the UK in 2012, sits very close to the frequencies used by digital TV, with the result that LTE base stations could prevent some UK residents from receiving DTV terrestrial broadcasts. Ofcom’s report said that up to 760,000 households in the UK could potentially be affected by this interference.

The regulator’s report states that filters fitted to consumer DTV equipment and onto base stations, as well as changes to TV aerials, would deal with the issue, but estimates that the total cost could amount to £100m, which it says should be, “borne predominantly by the new licensees of the 800 MHz spectrum.”

The report also states that, “no decision has been made on whether consumers should bear any of these costs”.

Either way, it seems likely that should the carriers be required to pick up the tab for the fixes, the costs would in turn be passed on to future LTE customers through higher pricing.

However, at this stage, this is no more than a proposal and Ofcom is currently seeking input from the industry on the issue, with a deadline of 11 August.

Ofcom has said that the the UK’s digital spectrum is due to be auctioned off in the first half of 2012.


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